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Rebecca Sugar on Gender, Steven Universe, and the Show’s Inspiration



Rebecca Sugar, the creator behind Steven Universe, recently had an interview with Entertainment Weekly about her show and how it found its place among some of television’s most feminist titles. And, of course, she also dishes on the show and teases just a tiny little bit of what’s to come.

Steven Universe has been on the minds and hearts of a lot of people lately, and it’s no surprise why. The show features great storytelling, more diversity than you can shake a stick at, and an incredibly endearing set of characters. But what is (arguably) central to the show is how it’s “geared for boys” (whatever that means) but still features almost a majority female cast.

To Sugar, the decision to play with the dynamics of gendered television was a very intentional one. She said:

My goal with the show was to really tear down and play with the semiotics of gender in cartoons for children because I think that’s a really absurd idea that there would be something radically different about a show for little girls versus a show for little boys.

It’s exciting to me to play with a lot of that language, because everyone’s very familiar with it but it really doesn’t make much sense. I used to really enjoy shows that were aggressively targeted to boys when I was a little girl and I know the same can be true the other way around, so why not have something that everybody can watch?

But for her, the gender politics is all icing on the cake. She said this show is really for her brother, and that her relationship with him is what’s inspired her to make the choices she’s made with the show.

I think that’s the feeling that I want to give to everyone, the feeling of having an unconditional friend that’s always there for you, because that’s really what he was. So as much as I want to talk about gender politics and make a cool action show that’s really cool, and a funny comedy show that’s really funny, at the end of the day I really want to do something that’s dedicated to my brother.

Sugar still had a bit to say about the show’s future, and when asked about what’s to come, she was just a little coy.

I think moving forward in the show, a lot of things are starting to happen in real time and they kind of can’t avoid talking about why and the history of what Gems have been doing on earth and why they need to keep them away from it. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but there will be a lot more about Gem history and Gems in the present and how they feel about what’s going on, on earth.

And her favorite Gem? She said, “It’s Steven. I mean, he’s my brother. The show is so much about us and he’s really saved my life.” This show has so much heart, and it’s clear to see where it comes from.

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Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (, and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters ( She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.