The Essential Steven Universe

(c/o Cartoon Network)
Finally, the world is catching onto the fact that not only is Steven Universe hella good, but it's literally revolutionary. I've got tons of friends trying to catch up, and I'm here to help with a guide to the episodes of Steven Universe that are essential to being caught up on the main plot. For those not in the know, here is an introduction to Steven Universe and its awesomeness.

Steven Universe is created by Rebecca Sugar, who worked on Adventure Time and wrote many of the songs on the show. It's a magical girl series, and the main magical girl is actually a hammy little boy named Steven. The magical girl team is called The Crystal Gems. They are from outer space and currently live in Beach City in an ancient temple and its adjoined beach house with interdimensional properties.

The Crystal Gems are non-binary female presenting (as in they technically don't have a true gender and they can shape shift into any form they want, but are typically regarded as women in terms of gender expression and pronouns) immortal, shape-shifting humanoid protectors of Beach City and Earth itself. Garnet (voiced by Estelle, British popstar of American Boy ft Kanye West fame), the leader, Amethyst, the wild one, and Pearl, the perfectionist, make up the team, alongside Steven, who is a half-gem and half-human. His mother, Rose Quartz, gave up her body/physical form to be reborn into half of him! He's growing up learning about his magical powers while living in a non-traditional family structure in which the Gems are all kind of like his moms (imagine being taken care of by three of your aunts) and his Dad lives in a van nearby so that he doesn't get too tangled up in all the magic shenanigans.

Steven's dad Greg is also great because he doesn't exhibit any forms of toxic masculinity. He doesn't force Steven to avoid his feelings, or act aggressively, or focus solely on achievement/competition. Greg is a former "rock star" (although the degree to which he was actually a big deal is not really clear) and now is kind of a washed-up loser who's flaky and owns a car wash. But he's a really good guy, and a good dad, and he really symbolizes a way of being that is more about being kind than achieving things or being the best. He doesn't have to be the best to be happy. He's just a good guy being a good guy in the best way he can. It's really really awesome.

As of yet, there are just over 50 episodes of Steven Universe, each running around 11 minutes. I recommend watching all of them, because the show is really sweet and beautiful, but if you want to get caught up on the plot so you can watch what's happening now, and go back for the more fluffy episodes later, this is your guide! This will take you all the way through the first season, ending with Episode 50.

Episode 1 - Gem Glow
Episode 2 - Laser Light Cannon
Episode 3 - Cheeseburger Backpack
Episode 6 - Catfingers
Episode 7 - Bubble Buddies
Episode 8 - Serious Steven
Episode 9 - Tiger Millionnaire
Episode 10 - Steven's Lion
Episode 12 - Giant Woman
Episode 13 - So Many Birthdays
Episode 14 - Lars and the Cool Kids
Episode 16 - Steven the Sword Fighter
Episode 17 - Lion 2: The Movie
Episode 19 - Rose's Room
Episode 20 - Coach Steven
Episode 21 - Joking Victim (This episode is Lars and Sadie-centric but I feel like their relationship is one of the more important ones in the show)
Episode 24 - An Indirect Kiss
Episode 25 - Mirror Gem (Part One of a major SU event-- this is when it really starts to heat up)
Episode 26 - Ocean Gem (Part Two)
Episode 27 - House Guest
Episode 28 - Space Race
Episode 29 - Island Adventure (Lars and Sadie-centric)
Episode 32 - Fusion Cuisine
Episode 33 - Garnet's Universe (this is not essential, but it's actually really, really cute and fun for gamers)
Episode 35 - Lion 3: Straight to Video (have tissues ready)
Episode 36 - Warp Tour
Episode 37 - Alone Together
Episode 38 - The Test
Episode 39 - Future Vision
Episode 40 - On the Run (holy crap this episode. You might not need tissues but get ready for some feelings.)
Episode 42 - Winter Forecast (not 100% necessary, but helps you understand that Steven is coming to grips with deeper and more complicated consequences of his actions as he grows up and becomes less sheltered)
Episode 43 - Maximum Capacity
Episode 44 - Marble Madness
Episode 45 - Rose's Scabbard
Episode 46 - The Message
Episode 47 - Political Power
Episode 48 - The Return (Part one of the Season Finale)
Episode 49 - Jailbreak (Part two of the Season Finale)
Episode 50 - Full Disclosure (Aftermath)

Support this amazing show by watching it on Cartoon Network or by buying it on iTunes!

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Notice to the Community: I'm Really F***ing Angry

"Notice to the Community" is a harmless set of words, but not for students at William and Mary like myself. This is the subject line we get in our inboxes when something terrible has happened, like a violent act, or the passing of one of our community members, and often, it is the opening to a message explaining that one of our own has committed suicide. Our small, elite state school is picturesque and safe by most accounts, but our suicide rate is startling. Our undergrad population is only around 6,000, which is quite small for a state school, but we just had our third suicide of the academic year this week. The fury inside me feels like fire poured into me like cement. How do you carry on when you are burning alive? How do you move forward with concrete grief and sadness filling you from toe to throat?

I don't know how. But we do. Because that's how we are here at William and Mary. This academically rigorous environment is home to mostly valedictorians who took tons of AP courses and founded non-profits in high school and won trophies. We did not get here by slowing down, by taking breaks, or de-prioritizing achievement. And that's probably what is, at least in part, killing us.

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