Bubbline is canon (or as canon as it can be) and here’s why
In November the eight-part miniseries called Stakes aired as part of season 7 of Adventure Time, The much anticipated episodes lived up to the expectations, the fans wanted some Marceline backstory along with a compelling and emotional stroyline and they got it. But more than that, Stakes offered even more of the relationship between Marceline and Princess Bubblegum, after the second epsiode of the season, Varmints saw them working together. Not only Bubblegum worked with Marceline and helped her just like the regular leads, Finn and Jake, but Stakes had the two females in more than suggesting situations. Meaning, the amount of ship tease was so big that I wouldn’t even call it that anymore, I’m fairly sure that the not so subtle signs were indicating something more than that. I believe that Stakes made Bubbline, the romantic relationship between Bubblegum and Marceline canon, or as canon as it can be for the time being. Here’s an almost 4k word long explanation.
First let’s see the journey that led up to Stakes. A good portion of the Adventure Time fandom started shipping the so called Bubbline relationship back in 2011 when What Was Missing aired. In the season 3 episode there was clearly tension between the two of them, especially after Marceline sang her rock-ballad I’m Just Your Problem. The song heavily implied that the two had a history full of strong emotions and that they’ve known each other for much longer than anyone would’ve thought. The audience mostly saw the relationship from Marceline’s point of view, but at the end it was revealed that Bubblegum’s stolen possession was a shirt the vampire had given her. And so it didn’t take long before fans began speculating that the Vampire Queen and the Princess of the Candy Kingdom shared a romantic relationship before the start of the show. Since then more episodes have aired that referenced their shared past and emotions, Sky Witch and the above mentioned Varmints for example, not to mention the numerous comics that featured the two of them. If nothing else, the close friendship they had before something went wrong has definitely been established. But I’ve already written about their past and the way their relationship has been portrayed so far.
But could it even be canon? In 2014, Marceline’s voice actress, the wonderfully talented Olivia Olson basically confirmed that they used to date and said that Pendleton Ward himself, the creator of the show told her so. Later she tweeted (and since then deleted) “I like to make things up at panels. Ya’ll take my stories way too seriously…” which caused even more controversy than the original statement.
Whether Ward or Olson were joking or something else was in the background, it is a fact that Bubbline couldn’t be explicitly canon then and still can’t be as of today. As Olson also said, in some countries where the show airs even being in a same-sex relationship is illegal, so the network couldn’t risk putting something like this in the show. And we don’t have to go too far, although marriage is finally legal for anyone in the United States, putting LGBT+ characters and showing their relationship on cartoons is still a process that has only just begun.
Although confirming their past relationship (not to mention rekindling it) would face some difficulties, it wouldn’t be impossible to make Bubbline canon without upsetting Cartoon Network. The network’s other popular series, Steven Universe (created by Rebecca Sugar, the former Adventure Time storyboard artist who basically kickstarted Bubbline) caused some stir with its rather unambigously queer characters and relatonships. The show has at least three LGBT characters as listed on Wikipedia (although, based on Olson’s comment Marceline and Bubblegum are on the list as well) and it’s generally acknowledged as a groundbreaking cartoon from that perspective. And even before the episode that started all this, Jail Break aired in March, 2015, Nickelodeon also took its first steps towards representation. On the 19th of December, 2014, the finale of The Legend of Korra aired and it all ended with the titular character, Korra, and one of the other main characters, Asami entering a romantic relationship after years of being friends. The relationship wasn’t overly explicit but still rather unambigious, and the creators later confirmed it. As I said, we’re still at the beginning of this process, but kids’ television is starting to get there with LGBT representation, and considering that in a way Bubblegum and Marceline started it all back in 2011, it would be only fitting to give these two the opportunity as well.