A Confession

Okay, this isn’t easy to say, but I have a confession to make.

This isn’t easy.


I’m a big fan of the cartoon Gravity Falls.

Yes! That’s right! I admit it, and I’m not ashamed! It’s a really fantastic cartoon, channeling the weird humor of the cult classic “Courage the Cowardly Dog”, but smarter and, yes, funnier. “Courage” relied on essentially the same plot week after week. “Gravity Falls” is, by contrast, really a wild card in terms of what to expect. It has character development, great characters, an interesting story, and terrific animation and voice acting (the voice actress who plays Mabel is especially a treat to listen to).

Also, the AV Club reviewer for the show is the same guy who reviews “Justified”, and he’s great, so that’s cool too.

If you want to get your best introduction to the show, watch the pilot episode, “Tourist Trapped”. The big twist of the episode is an absolutely perfect set up for the show. Throughout the episode it seems as if you’re watching a typical kids cartoon – kind of cute but nothing you’d show anybody over ten, maybe 12, or so. But the twist is HILARIOUS, unexpected, and completely logical given what we know of the episode up to that point, and it sets up the template for the show to come in spectacularly funny fashion.

The reason I bring this up now is because a new episode just aired, and it was a complete game-changer for the plot. I just wanted to say that the end of the episode, where Mabel is challenged to either make the logical choice or trust Grunkle Stan, was the best type of dramatic moment, because I honestly didn’t know what Mabel would do. And THAT is good storytelling.

Whew. Got that off my chest.

I don’t expect to talk about this show a lot, but for what it’s worth if you’re any fan of cartoons I whole-heartedly recommend it.

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31 Responses to A Confession

  1. zodak says:

    i was going to start watching it, until i found out that gravity falls is a feminst cartoon, even the bitches at the mary stupid like it.

    • I will tell you what that article is: Utter bullshit written by a dude looking for a show to mean what he wants it to mean. The Dipper manliness episode was hilarious.

      Look at what he even says:

      Although the episode puts a neat bow on Dipper’s arc by offering a pat moral – “You did what was right even though no one agreed with you. Sounds pretty manly to me”…

      In other words: His whole theory about how it’s really all about subversive gender roles or some shit is wish-fulfillment nonsense.

      • John says:

        I know this subject is probably a bit redundant now, but after searching around a bit recently and analyzing some things personally, I simply gotta ask you one more thing.
        Namely, are you really sure there isn’t any subversiveness in Gravity Falls?

        I mean, look at Wendy.

        Wendy seems like she is a classic feminist figure with her independence from other men and willingness to fight and fend for herself in the end, and especially how she tries not to make her relationships too serious to the point that some members of the fanbase think she’s aromantic or asexual, and tries to help Mabel not worry about boys.

        Doesn’t this seem like the writers are trying to send a message with her character? Or is this just par for the course and not really anything to worry about? What do you think?

      • Sure, I think there’s definitely some. But I think the majority of the connections are forced and that for the most part the show is trying to send completely different, generally unrelated messages.

        Real subversion is Stephen Universe.

      • John says:

        About subversive elements, one final thing.

        I recently came across an article that sounds like the most typical cultural Marxist you’ve ever heard:


        He points out certain subversive elements of the show which he finds very delightful and queer. Here are a few relevant exceprts from his article:

        >>>It’s delightfully, charmingly queer. As I watched season 1, I found the amount of gender subversion and sexual ambiguity fun, playful and hilarious.

        Looking at it objectively, the first season contained a bratty, feminine villain……, a lazy, flannel-wearing, tomboyish young woman, a boy-crazy twelve-year-old girl with a deep voice and a wrestler’s build, and an effeminate man with long lashes……, among other characters who pop up in the show.

        Even the twins themselves, Dipper and Mabel Pines, present two subversive characters. Mabel could ostensibly be called “typically-girly” — she loves adorable sweaters, cute animals, glitter, sleepovers with her friends and going boy crazy — but she’s also the goofy dork out of the twins. She is messy, rough-and-tumble and, similar to Tina of Bob’s Burgers, wonderfully awakened and aware of her physical desires for boys. The masculinity of Dipper, on the other hand, is constantly being called into question, and is explored at different points during season 1.

        An entire episode is spent on Dipper trying to learn to be a man from a group of “Man-otaurs,” before ending up enjoying a duet of “Disco Girls” by girly Icelandic pop sensation Baba with the Man-otaurs’ rival monster. Instead of muscles and might, Dipper relies on his mind to solve the mysteries of the paranormal town.

        There’s also a moment in the finale, where it seems a little bit like Mabel is the damsel in distress, in the clutches of the evil, girly, tiny, big-haired villain, Gideon Gleeful. However, after Dipper does battle with the little monster, Mabel ends up with Dipper in her arms, saving both her and her brother.

        Why I find it so endearing is because the ambiguity and subversion is just accepted as another facet of the strange little town. Even when Dipper, Gideon or any of characters are at the butt of “girly” or “unmanly” jokes, I never found them cruel or offensive, but rather exploring that part of the character in a humorous way — when Mabel first meets Gideon, for example, she loves getting makeovers with him and considers him a girlfriend, and no one finds this at all strange.<<<

        One response that instantly pops into my mind is that this guy seems to have a very confused idea of masculinity, seemingly implying that masculinity entails solving your problems with your muscles rather than your mind, even though in the 50's and early 60's the traditional public perception of masculinity included both characteristics.

        But I'm not so sure about the other things he mentions, as it seems to fit the criteria of what you described as ''Sure, I think there’s definitely some.''

        So is this actual subversive stuff the guy found out about the show, or is this just some more desperate wish-fulfillment from an awfully petty Marxistic leftist?

      • John says:

        So, what do you think about the subversive elements the guy points out in the above comment?

      • Thoughts:

        1) I’ve been trying to get better at not making excuses for entertainment I like, hence my post facto condemnation of “Jessica Jones”. Some of those are indeed valid objections (they don’t consider them objections, but I of course do).

        Some I’m pretty skeptical about. Dipper is a nerdy character, but he’s the leader of the group and clearly more masculine than Mabel. He’s shown to be a hero all the time.

        Mabel takes part in adventures, and especially the later episodes of season two lean more heavily into the subversive (two episodes especially veer into obnoxious territory), but she’s obviously very girly, obsessed with boys and love. That she sometimes plays a hero role hardly seems like a bad thing to me – like the grappling hook thing they mention, who in their right mind even considers that?

        The deep voiced girl they mention is pretty much entirely played for laughs. It’s funny. If they were making a point there, they were undermining it by making the character comic relief.

        And I think it differs from Wondie in that I’ve never seen Disney or “Gravity Falls” try to sell it as a subversive show or feminist show. “Stephen Universe” is very different because it is very, very blatant about what it’s trying to do. “Gravity Falls” seems to me like a story first show with entertaining characters that will sometimes lean into subversion to make a point, but it’s not baked into the show’s DNA like “Stephen Universe”.

        THAT SAID – There are valid points in there and it’s worth it to keep them in mind when you’re watching it. And I enjoy the show, so I’m obviously biased, and that should be taken into account as well.

      • John says:

        Ok, then, so this is a sort of middle position you’re taking there.

        But yeah, there are some subversive elements in the show that people should be careful with, especially that episode where Robbie wants to beat up Dipper for manipulating his relationship with Wendy and then the show tells them to act like girls and hate each other in secret and be nice to each other in front of the girls. In other words the episode teaches Effeminacy.

        Other than that, I agree with you that the show is mostly harmless and won’t affect any of the kids ( or more older viewers) in any actually harmful way.

      • John says:

        BTW, if you’re wondering what I’m talking about when I mention the episode of Dipper manipulating Robbie’s relationshio with Wendy, I am primarily talking about an analysis of the Fight Fighters episode done here by a Catholic alt-righter:


        He points out a certain thing he disagrees about the show with, particularily the episode Fight Fighters where the basic message is, well, let me quote the article:

        >>>Wendy shows up, and says, “Hey – you two weren’t fighting were you? I hate it when boys fight!” They both deny it, and then Dipper recalls some ‘wisdom’ proffered by his twin sister Mabel earlier in the episode: “Why can’t you learn to hate each other in secret? Like girls do!” He suggest this to Robbie, and the episode finishes with both of them acting like sycophantic Beta Orbiters to Wendy’s face, while hating one another whenever her back is turned.

        But hey, at least they’re not being disruptive, right?

        It isn’t enough to condemn the show, but it was disappointing….

        Ironically this came after an episode where Wendy explained to Mabel that you can’t let guys down easy; that when you try and do that, the only result is that you’ll be leading them on. In Fight Fighters we see the result of what leading a guy on does, but instead of dealing with the resultant mess, the message is that we all need to play nice and get along. It doesn’t matter if we all hate one another and we’re all miserable – so long as we can put on a fake smile, and pretend that everything’s fine.

        I’m being harsh on the show, but that’s because effeminacy is a major issue in our time<<>>There was an excellent episode late in the second season where Dipper learns Game from Gruncle Stan.

        So despite the episode mentioned here, Dipper learns to move on and resolves to use his great-uncle’s techniques for good.

        Stan also points out that the life of a PUA isn’t a glamorous one at the end.

        I’m actually surprised that episode was made, let alone aired.<<<

        So it seems we now have controversial concepts such as Game coming into play here, as well as a critique of effeminacy that has a bit of it's basis on Game, which as you know has been criticised as being male decadence by Zippy and maybe others as well.

        Which means that I don't know if the second season episode that Swiftfoxmark mentions is a good episode because it teaches Game which means it is opposite of effeminacy and is healthy masculinity, or is actually another example of a bad episode because Game has been criticised as male slutfulness and therefore the episode encourages something bad.

      • The problem is that the techniques Stan teaches to Dipper are basically benign in nature; pretty much amounting to being confident enough to approach women and then not acting like a wuss in front of them. The evil thing Dipper does is not follow up with calls, even though he never actually *promises* to call anyone. It was all, by his and Stan’s own admission, pretty much just practice at talking to girls.

        The street fighter episode I agree wholeheartedly about.

      • John says:


        There seems to be a cutoff in my comment when it says:

        ”I’m being harsh on the show, but that’s because effeminacy is a major issue in our time<>There was an excellent episode late in the second season where Dipper learns Game from Gruncle Stan.”

        What I am refering to when the text says ”<>” is a comment posted by Swiftfoxmark2 in defense of the show in the comments of the article which I wanted to point out,

      • Really? That episode was TERRIBLE. It was all about a caricatured version of becoming attractive to women with the end message of men who act masculine to attract women are evil, and all men lie, anf women are superior. Total disaster.

      • John says:

        One final thing.

        According to this site, there are a number of ”feminist lessons” that girls (and even boys!) can learn from Gravity Falls:


        Here are the relevant quotations that describe the alleged ”lessons”. I will highlight the most important points;

        >>>In “The Hand that Rocks the Mabel,” the twins meet kid psychic and town darling Gideon. Mabel thinks she’s found a new friend who just likes the same things as her, but quickly it becomes clear that he wants more — namely, for Mabel to be his figurative and possibly literal queen. There’s a lot of emotional COERCION going on, and even when Mabel says as kindly as she can that she only wants to be friends, Gideon pushes her into trying out just one date.

        A key part of this episode is how much Mabel tries to smooth over the rejection. She’s a nice person who doesn’t like seeing people be sad, and she does everything she can to try to approach the topic without being cruel. THIS IS HOW A LOT OF GIRLS ARE TAUGHT TO ACT — that they have to be nice to people even when they’re made uncomfortable. Dipper, who has been encouraging her to tell Gideon upfront how she feels, offers to break up with him for Mabel. Gideon loses it, accuses Dipper of turning Mabel against him, and then lures Dipper into his factory to kill him. MABEL FINALLY CALLS HIM OUT ON HIS TOXIC BEHAVIOUR. She doesn’t put up with his violent reaction to her refusal and cuts all ties with him.

        “The Hand that Rocks the Mabel” takes the trope of “sweet, adoring male friend willing to push the boundaries to win fair maiden” and REFUSES TO SUGARCOAT HOW TOXIC IT IS. It’s huge for kids to see that THE BLAME IS ON GIDEON for pushing Mabel into a relationship she didn’t want INSTEAD OF on Mabel for not making Gideon happy by continuing to date him.<<>>It’s a pretty small storyline compared to Dipper’s in the episode, but the fact is that Gravity Falls gave Mabel TWO SWEET, FUN GIRLFRIENDS. While perhaps not a lesson in the classic sense, the episode shows THE POWER OF SISTERHOOD. We don’t always get to see main female characters with girlfriends when they already have guy characters to pal around with. It lets Mabel have more storylines that DON’T DEPEND directly on Dipper…

        The episode also passes the Bechdel Test from the girl’s first conversation alone, because we have enough female characters that are JUST TALKING ABOUT THEMSELVES instead of the MANY MALE characters in the show.<<>>So I said there were five feminist lessons here, but there’s a bonus bit of feminist greatness to “Boyz Crazy” that I need to bring up. The B story of the episode is Dipper convinced being that his crush Wendy (who is a teenager and clearly sees him as just a younger friend) is only continuing to date her no-good boyfriend Robbie thanks to subliminal messages in his music. After some trial and error, Dipper finds proof and interrupts their date to reveal it.

        When she breaks up with Robbie (incidentally not so much for the mind control but finding out the guy lied about actually writing a song for her), Wendy is visibly upset. But Dipper is too busy audibly celebrating Robbie being out of the picture to notice. He IMMEDIATLY ASKS WENDY HANG OUT, and YOU EXPECT HER TO SMILER AND GIVE HIM A BIG HUG because in most shows and movies, Dipper would be REWARDED FOR HIS ACTIONS during the story. He’s the “good guy” who SAVED THE GIRL from the “bad guy.” But instead Wendy CALLS HIM OUT FOR ONLY THINKING ABOUT HIMSELF when she’s clearly heartbroken about being lied to by someone she trusted. Dipper ends up having to come to terms with HOW SELFISH HIS ACTIONS WERE, learning that breaking up a relationship so you AS THE NICE GUY can pick up the pieces ISN’T being a nice guy at all.

        KIDS GET TAUGHT through so many shows and movies that the nice guy who exposes the mean guy WILL GET REWARDED WITH THE GIRL’S AFFECTION. It’s so great to see a kid’s show like Gravity Falls BLOW THAT TROPE RIGHT OUT OF THE WATER.<<<

        So, what do you think of these alleged feminist lessons? Are they left-wing confirmation bias, or are these so-called ''lessons'' actually objections to the show and criticisms that can be made of it?

      • John says:

        Ah, I see the WordPress comment system screwed up again, so I will have to clarify a certain thing that will seem confusing.

        In my comment, you will find this:

        ”<>It’s a pretty small storyline compared to Dipper’s in the episode, but the fact is that Gravity Falls gave Mabel TWO SWEET, FUN GIRLFRIENDS. While perhaps not a lesson in the classic sense, the episode shows THE POWER OF SISTERHOOD. We don’t always get to see main female characters with girlfriends when they already have guy characters to pal around with. It lets Mabel have more storylines that DON’T DEPEND directly on Dipper…

        The episode also passes the Bechdel Test from the girl’s first conversation alone, because we have enough female characters that are JUST TALKING ABOUT THEMSELVES instead of the MANY MALE characters in the show.<>”

        What this part of my comment refers to is the episode Double Dipper and the alleged feminist lesson found in it.

        Hope that helps if my comment looks disorganised.

      • Like I said, a lot of those points are quite good. A few, though, are just dumb; anybody who watches the episode they’re talking about (with Gideon) and says “Man, FEMINIST POWER!” is pretty absurd. And really, the message of “Just be honest” is a fine one anyway.

        – Anthony

      • John says:

        Wait, so Double Dipper and Boyz Crazy can in fact be counted as equally subversive as Fight Fighters and Manotaurs?

        I can understand that Boyz Crazy is bad because of the reversal of the natural expectation that a male hero would be complimented and rewarded for his actions, but I’m not sure about Double Dipper.

        The only thing remotely feminist about that episode is the fact that a female character gets friends and because of this she is a bit more ”independent” from her twin brother.

        But yeah, I agree with you that we will unfortunately have to count yet another episode as something to be avoided, namely Boyz Crazy as mentioned above.

    • I’ll put it this way: I don’t actually think the show HAS a bad episode. Seriously, none.

  2. John says:

    About the two gay characters:

    The creator himself stated in his Reddit AMA that he would have added LGBT characters if given permission but he couldn’t because of the censors.

    But he did not mention the two side characters specifically.

    But when he did talk about them:


    He stated (My emphasis added):

    ”That’s something that we do a lot in the show is, we take relationships that maybe should be fraught with annoyance and we try to put love in there BECAUSE IT’S FUNNIER. I’ll give you an example, and this is something that has been interpreted in many different ways, but when we came up with the cops in town, Blubs and Durland, it was this thought of: okay, everybody knows the trope of, you’ve got an old hardass sheriff and his idiot rookie and he’s always saying ‘Damn it, rookie, get your head in the game.’ And we thought, ‘What if every time the rookie screwed up, instead he said, “Well, you are a delight” and threw him a piece of candy?’ Like, what if the sheriff was just…endlessly just overjoyed every time his subordinate was inept? That is such a weird way to play it. So sort of similarly for us, it was like, ‘Okay, what if Soos sees the world’s worst boss as the world’s most perfect man?’ You know, sometimes being kind and sweet is a MUCH MORE UNEXPECTED PUNCHLINE.”

    So it seems he’s admitting that he potrays them like this simply for comedy.

    Even the joke in the finale where they say they are mad with power and with love might be interpreted as a joke, especially if you consider ”love” to mean willing the greater good and not sexual/romantic/emotional mushy feelings.

    So yeah, I think you’re right when you say the situation is like Dumbledore.

    The never-ending liberal screaming and pointing of ”THEY’RE OBVIOUSLY GAY THEY SAY SUGGESTIVE STUFF TO EACH OTHER” not withstanding due to the fact they’re agenda-driven as heck.

    • The line in the finale didn’t seem any more suggestive than anything else they’d ever said.

      Anyway, there are probably some messages I could quibble at here and there. Manotaurs is indeed one, and another might be the episode when they go on the road trip where Dipper tries to learn how to pick up girls. But calling thesm subversive seems like a stretch and a half to me.

  3. John says:

    Correction/Further notification:

    Not to get confused, I think I need to clarify something further about the creator.

    I forgot to bring up that Hirshc (the creator) stated in his AMA:

    that he would have loved to include CANON LGBT characters.

    Which might leave the possibility open that he uses love as a motive for innocent comedy as a compromise between the censors and his desire to include some canon LGBT chars.

    Not that this is a problem because this neuters anything that could possibly be problematic seeing as it is so vague that a majority of people won’t notice it (if they haven’t made contact with liberal fans that is)

    Hirsch is known to have celebrated the June 2015 declaration on same-sex marriage,but beyond that there is nothing much to worry about (unless you’re a Trump supporter because he also tweeted criticisms of Trump and harshly criticised Trump himself as well)

    There is also the fact that the original storyboards for ”Love God” were leaked showing an attempt by the writers to leak LGBT symbolism, but that was censored completely making it a non-issue.

    But other then that, the show seems to be perfectly then I suppose.

    • John says:


      The final sentece was supposed to read:

      ”But other then that, the show seems to be perfectly fine then I suppose.”

      Not: ”But other then that, the show seems to be perfectly then I suppose.”

      BTW Sorry for dragging this out too much if that bothers you.

  4. I actually share your love with the show, I adored it myself. Personally one of the few problems I did have with the show was Mabel’s unending selfishness and how she never seemed to get punished for any of the shit she pulled. Like ever. It reminds me of another current cartoon, Star vrs the Forces of Evil wherein the titular character literally suffers no drawback for her selfishness and stupidity even if it hurts or inconveniences others except for a few episode morals, and who the sidekick Character Marco, who nearly always suffers because of her, doesn’t complain. It was annoying but not deal breaking.

    As for the homosexuality implications, I though the cops were probably being portrayed as PG gay, but I ignored it because it was easy to dismiss until the final episode line.

    • John says:

      ”As for the homosexuality implications, I though the cops were probably being portrayed as PG gay, but I ignored it because it was easy to dismiss until the final episode line.”

      Actually, the creator of the show said himself that he would have loved to include canon LGBT chars in the show, but couldn’t because of the censors.

      And an interview I cited above, the creator explicitly states that he adds love to certain usually annoying relationships in order to make them funnier, while admitting there are many interpretations of this, but primarily saying that when he came up with them, he came up with their potrayal as a comedic thing, not a serious potrayal of gay characters.

      Sure the last line is more suggestive, but it’s also most likely a joke as it functions in context like it.

      The creator might have desired to push through his beliefs later on, but it’s vague enough in the end that it can easily be interpreted differently.

    • I’m drawing a blank on selfish things Mabel did that she was never punished for.

      I’m also still confused as to how that line from the last episode is any more suggestive than anything else they said over the course of the show.

      • John says:

        Well, there were many articles popping up here and there that say stuff such as “Gravity Falls Confirms Gay Couple” which made many liberal fans gleefully scream as if this was canon from the mouth of the creator (it’s not actually canon because Hirsch never confirmed it).

        But I remember some liberals talking about the relationship between Dipper and Pacifica and saying that if you easily see these two as a couple or think it’s likely the above two could be a couple then you cannot reject the idea that the alleged gay chars are also a couple too.

        I personally think that is a non-sequitor but then again I don’t know how to reject this reasoning fully so I would like to know your thoughts on this argument.

        And I would also just ask you to clarify what you meant in your first answer of “Not really.”

        Did you mean to negate the idea that you have no objections about the show by pointing to the alleged gay couple as a problem?

        Or was your answer meant to clarify that the alleged gay couple isn’t really problematic and it’s as much of a problem for you as Dumbledore’s gayness in Harry Potter is a problem for you (in other words small enough that it practically doesn’t exist)?

      • I personally think that is a non-sequitor but then again I don’t know how to reject this reasoning fully so I would like to know your thoughts on this argument.

        There’s no response if you consider male/female relationships and same-sex relationships equal, but I don’t, so the argument doesn’t move me.

        And I would also just ask you to clarify what you meant in your first answer of “Not really.”

        I mean I don’t really have any problem with the show.

  5. John says:

    So wait, that means some of Wendy’s characteristics are in fact subversive to some extent?

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