God bless Steven Universe.
We have the character Greg, who works his ass off at a crappy job to provide for his kid. He lives in a van. He has nothing. But he always makes sure Steven has everything he needs. He never begrudges the fact that he had to give up on his dreams to stay in Beach City. He’s never resentful about his lot in life. He’s just a fantastic guy in general.
So an episode comes up where he, after years of being very poor, ends up with a lot of money. A TON of money.
Everything in cartoon history tells me that he’s supposed to go nuts spending all the money or he’ll be scammed or tricked or some crazy event will happen that costs a ton of money, or it will turn out it was all fake, and just somehow, by the end of the episode, he ends up back to being dirt poor and learns some cheap message about humility and money not buying happiness. I spent the whole episode “Mr.Greg” waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under him.
But it wasn’t.
He spends money somewhat frivolously, but it’s all to have a good time with his son, which he does, and he still has the vast majority of the money left at the end. It probably only cost a few thousand out of his 10 million at most.
He doesn’t become obsessed with being wealthy. It doesn’t change him at all. He stays in his van instead of buying a big fancy house because it’s where he feels comfortable. He keeps working the car wash because it’s something to do. When he buys a tablet, he decides it isn’t for him and lets Steven give it to someone who would like it more. He buys a car he always wanted, but he buys it used. It’s not showy or extravagant, it’s just a car that he’d always wanted and can now have.
The only difference now is that, when something happens like someone stiffing him at the car wash, or the gems destroying another diner booth, Greg doesn’t have to worry about it. He can just live his life comfortably and without stressing about money.
It also makes me happy that Greg earned the money through his music. It’s not the way he’d originally envisioned it, perhaps, but he is now an incredibly successful musician.
There was no lesson about not “selling out”. There was no moral about how money won’t fix your problems. There was no joke about a poor man being totally clueless about money or overwhelmed with greed.
It’s just a great, humble, hard-working guy who becomes monetarily successful and remains a great, humble, hard-working guy who just now doesn’t have to worry about money and can afford to treat himself right after years of neglecting himself to make sure that his son was always provided for.
I don’t know, maybe they will still pull it all out from under him yet. Maybe it will still all go away and he’ll be back to being dirt poor. But for now, I’m loving the direction they’ve been taking with this story line. I’m so sick of seeing shows be so afraid to change anything about the status quo of the show that they have to undo all progress anyone makes by the end of every episode. It’s refreshing to see a show where things change.