It’s About To Get Weird
In 2013, Alex Hirsch created such a small novel idea that bloomed into something truly revolutionary and groundbreaking: Gravity Falls. What may appear like a simple animated kids show premiering on Disney channel, this show elevates the animated television genre to new heights by being one of the best television shows in the history of the universe, and I would be willing to stake my entire reputation as a reviewer on that claim. This shows rivals the likes of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and I would go as far as to say that it should be in the top 5 greatest animated projects of all time, including rivaling the likes of Pixar animation studios. Just what makes this show so good? Well read on to find out.
When twelve year old twins Dipper and Mable Pines travel to Gravity Falls, Oregon to live with their great uncle (Grunkle) Stan for the Summer, they begin to notice a lot of weird things happening with the town. Dipper discovers a mysterious journal that details a lot of the interesting anomalies surrounding the town and slowly begins to realize that there is definitely something afoot in the town. Both Dipper and Mable embark on countless adventures and shenanigans to enjoy their Summer while also unearthing the mysteries of the town.
I could start talking about how wickedly funny the show is and how I have never laughed harder in my entire life. Or maybe I should talk about the series’s great plot and mystery. Oh, and I shouldn’t forget about the many Easter eggs that are scattered throughout the episodes that keen eyes will notice and have payoff in a fantastical way near the end. But honestly, the main crux of the series that sets an excellent foundation for everything to be built upon are its characters.
Dipper and Mable are easily two of the most relatable, hilarious, intelligent, wacky, and well-developed protagonists in all of media history. Dipper is more of the intellectual of the two getting himself wrapped up in conspiracy theories and puzzle solving in order to deduce the true nature of the town. Mable on the other hand is more free-sprited and embraces new experiences and opportunities with a colorful optimism and joy that is infectious to all that watch. Each twin learns a small lesson in each episode, but the main allure is the bond that they share with one another. While still young but burgeoning on the crisp of being teenagers, these two have each other’s backs and deeply care about one another through thick and thin and it brings a heartwarming and oftentimes hilarious smile to your face.
The best episodes of the series often revolve around the bond between these siblings being strengthened, tested, or at odds. Both of them are clearly different from one another from the get go, and that leads to small bits of tension that put strain on the relationship the two characters have. The way they learn from each other is also admirable, with Mabel appreciating Dipper’s intellect but also Dipper appreciating the optimism and boldness Mable has as well. Their relationship is loosely based on the relationship creator Alex Hirsch had with his twin sister, and that just adds to the palpability and genuineness of their relationship.
All of the supporting characters are great as well, from Dipper’s teenage crush but resident bad ass Wendy, to carefree and clumsy Soos, to the cops that patrol the town, each character has a lovable quirkiness to them that adds to the magnetic feeling of the show. Furthermore, the show doesn’t shy away from developing these side characters into something with more depth and weight to them. We learn to understand why some characters are the way that they are either in a hilarious fashion or in sometimes a heartbreaking way. It makes this show more than something that is built “just for kids”, and something that families and even adults can enjoy as well.
The show is also disastrously funny, and I cannot stress enough how clever and smart the humor is in this show. This humor rivals that of which Pixar does, except all of the jokes are subtle and ingenious in their own way. Whereas Pixar may make a few jokes for older audiences and rely more so on kid-friendly humor, there are times where Gravity Falls is just so random and clever that you can’t help but laugh out loud each time. There are many jokes that when you observe closely are actually quite genius making this a show that is ripe for all ages of enjoyment.
Not only is the subtle humor, but the twins get themselves into some wacky scenarios that you can’t help but smile at the thought and effort that went in to craft something wholly original. Gnomes try to make Mabel their queen, unicorns are sassy and crude creatures, Dipper attempts to clone himself to get a date with Wendy, Mabel buys a pig, each scenario and episode is worth watching and at just 2 seasons with 20 episodes each, you don’t want to skip a single section.
In terms of an overarching narrative, Gravity Falls subtly and cleverly builds towards its endgame plot by setting small bread crumbs for eagle eyed viewers to be on the lookout for. There are codes at the end of each episode’s credits to be unscrambled, characters in the background that serve a larger purpose, and a haunting sign that appears just before the theme song ends that all begs to be decoded and solved. For those willing to get truly invested in the show, the episodes reward you for your efforts and theories in spectacular ways that are equally hilarious and satisfying to watch pay off. The cleverness actually makes the show more enjoyable to watch and adds another mystery element that other shows (let alone a “kids show”) are too lazy to delve into.
Season 1 of the show more or less deals with the fun and wackiness the town offers with each episode highlighting something weird, interesting, alluring, or downright insane that is going on. There is a lot of fun and laughs to be had and while there is a small plot that drives the season together it is mostly just there to introduce us to key characters and help develop an identity for the show itself. Season 2 on the other hand, still deals with the wackiness and fun of the town but also delves more into why the town is the way that it is. Each episode gets more deep but also balances it out smartly with its clever sense of humor leaving no bad or skippable episodes within its midst. There’s excitement, mystery, and fun to be had with each 22 minute episode.
It all culminates in what is arguably one of the best series finale’s of all time, paying off every theory, plot thread, character arc, and subtle references noted by avid fans. It delivers the heart and humor the series has been known for without going on too long to spoil its fun. It smartly keeps the focus on the twin’s and their relationship while also developing the outside mystery and questions its fans have had and pays them all off splendidly. It is sad that the show is only two seasons long, but I am glad that Alex Hirsch decided to end the show on his own terms instead of going on longer than it needs to. While this may not be the end of Gravity Falls and the adventures left to be had, I am glad that the story of the Pines family could be wrapped up nicely in a perfectly kept bow.
Gravity Falls is one of the best television shows of all time and it may surprise or deter you away to know that it was an animated Disney show, but I implore you to reconsider. It has amusingly clever writing, excellent and hilarious characters, and an overarching mystery that allows you to tap in along for the ride. There has never been a show like this before and I am not sure if there ever will be, but that is quite all right because I will fondly remember this show for what it was: good old fashioned fun and enjoyment that I will always cherish no matter how much I grow up.
Watch it now on Disney+