Steven Universe provides hilarity and relief

It’s the week after APs. Your brain is fried. No matter how many AP tests you took, they still make your previously pristine mind go numb, and any type of work that you could have done before becomes impossible. So you turn to TV, your old friend. The perfect show for your post-AP haze is Steven Universe, a 10-minute cartoon about Steven Universe, a half-alien half-boy who lives in the town of Beach City. It’s a dreamy place where Steven gorges on donuts and crunchy french fry bits in between fighting evil monsters from his alien home planet with his mother-figures, the Crystal Gems — Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl.

This show is probably one of the most soothing things I’ve ever watched, which is saying something because I’ve seen a lot of TV. The 10-minute format means that any conflict that arises has to be solved as quickly as possible, except for on the occasional overarching plot episode. This quick resolution is comforting because it gives a feeling that everything will be OK both in Beach City and in the real world. There’s no worry that Steven or the Crystal Gems will be brooding for 20 minutes over anything, so there’s some security in knowing that this show won’t be emotionally scarring. And all of us need that security at a time when we’re worrying about how we did on AP tests or how finals are going to go.

And the crazy thing about this super calming show is that it’s genuinely, stupidly hilarious. In one of the earlier episodes, “Cat Fingers,” Steven accidentally turns his fingers into cats, which sounds stupid and childish, but as Steven’s entire body is overtaken by cats, there’s a horror movie vibe. Steven tells his dad to spray him with water because he’s “a monster, an adorable cat monster.” In another episode, Steven and Connie (a girl he has just met and a possible love interest) get stuck in an indestructible bubble. They have to roll all around the city, from a roller coaster to the bottom of the ocean, in an attempt to escape as Steven tries to pretend that this is completely normal. Steven is so overly dramatic and silly but also so empathetic towards others that his character allows Steven Universe to find the sweet spot between comfort and hilarity.

Plus, the mix of a small-town feel with a fantasy story of the earth-saving alien race is so surreal that it adds an extra layer of depth, in that it seems so possible and impossible at the same time. There are episodes like “Cat Fingers” in which ridiculous things happen, but then there are episodes where Steven’s teen friends make t-shirts and try to rebel from their parents and episodes where Steven is extremely awkward about talking to his crush. Steven is a regular at a donut shop and is friends with the cashiers there, something that’s a cliché on many realistic TV shows, but he’s also able to make a shield out of the gem where his belly button would be in order to help the Crystal Gems save the planet. This mix of fantasy and realism is extremely difficult to pull off, but Steven Universe manages to by not questioning it. Some residents of Beach City think that the Gems are a little strange, but for the most part it all seems to be just a part of life.

It’s easy to dismiss shows that might be seen as childish for darker, grittier dramas, but there’s something to be said for the warmth of a show like Steven Universe. The soothing storylines and the humor are not just for children but are perfect for anyone, especially teenagers who had a rough semester. This show has depth, comedy and a fantasy premise that, when combined, are difficult not to fall for. Try Steven Universe as your first show of the summer or last show of the school year. The child you used to be and the adult you’re trying to become both want you to.

Steven Universe airs on Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. on Cartoon Network, and the first 35 episodes are available on Hulu Plus.