ANA G. VALDES
Ah summer break, a time for leisure, recreation and takin ‘er easy. Unless you’re Dipper and Mabel Pines. From fighting a thousand gnomes to outsmarting the beast with one eye together, there’s nothing that can stand in their way. But I’m getting ahead of myself. You may be wondering what the hell I’m talking about. Rest assured: there’s a perfectly logical explanation.
Gravity Falls is an animated show made in 2012 by creator Alex Hirsch. Twins Dipper and Mabel Pines are sent to spend the summer with their great-uncle, Grunkle Stan, in the mysterious town of Gravity Falls, Oregon. Grunkle Stan has the kids help him run The Mystery Shack, the tourist trap that he owns. The twins try to adapt to the weird surroundings but sense there is something strange about Gravity Falls and begin to unlock its secrets. When Dipper uncovers a cryptic journal that offers insight into the town’s mysteries, he and Mabel use it and their enthusiastic desire to vanquish evil to battle the imminent mysteries that surround them. Gravity Falls is more than just local color and mysterious relatives, it’s also the sort of town where every paranormal phenomenon you could think of is real and where little else is as it seems. The main antagonist; Bill Cipher, is an ancient demon who’s older than the galaxy and far greater than other nightmare beings who honestly scared me as a child But, not everything is what it seems. Each episode has its own message: For example, “Weirdmageddon 2: Escape from reality”. In this episode, the message is very clear if you have searched for it. Its creativity showed the living impulses of a child’s mind manipulated by fantasy and fear, and the wonderfully disturbing darkness balances out with the humor. This is the real reason why I like “escape from reality”. I’m not a fan of change myself and I hate that my reality can change in a split second, but that’s how life works out sometimes. The episode kicks off with Dipper, Soos and Wendy entering Mabel’s prison bubble (created by none other than Bill Cipher) called “MabelLand”. Mabel happily reveals that she awoke in this world, and is the ruler of it all as the mayor. Still harboring grief over being forced to grow up and leave Gravity Falls, possibly without her brother, she is overjoyed to remain in her world of fantasy, now complete with the group by her side; however, this is due to Bill having caused her worst emotions to cloud her mind. In Mabel Land you can have anything you want; For example, Wendy when started to side with Dipper, taking into mind the dire state of Gravity Falls, but is interrupted by her friends, who plan to ride a monster truck filled with explosives to a high school, destroy it, and stick a plunger on the principal’s head, something that Wendy has always wanted to do, causing her to leave with her friends.Soos assures Dipper that he remains committed to the mission, but his resolve is broken when he is heartwarmingly reunited with his dad conjured from his own imagination, as he is unable to remember how his father looked like. Dipper now remains alone with Mabel, he rejects his desire and leaves her alone. Now being at “Giggle Creek”, Dipper begins to accept that Mabeland truly is perfect compared to the real world, one example being how his thrown stones skip perfectly in the creek. His thoughts are voiced aloud and thus heard by Wendy, who comments on his weird behavior. She voices out her growing dislike for Mabeland, and subsequently praises Dipper for being so smart, saying that if he was older, she would be his girlfriend. While Dipper is shocked by this, she realizes that they could ask Mabel to make Dipper older so they could become a couple and live together in Mabeland forever, and asks Dipper to agree and come with her by taking her hand. Dipper nearly accepts but realizes that Wendy would never say such things: she is only saying what he wants her to say. He is thus able to realize that Wendy is a temptation and only a fantasy and backs away from her. “Wendy” being rejected by Dipper reveals to be nothing but insects, before breaking apart and with the cockroaches crawling away. The world suddenly darkens, and a “stuffed animal tree,” now revealed to be corrupted with glowing eyes, chides Dipper on his decision, with the animals warning Dipper he was always being watched. Realizing how horrifying this world truly is, he announces that he has to return to reality. This causes him to break Mabeland’s one rule: to never mention reality. He is suppressed by some waffle guards, who prepare to exile him back to reality forever.
Another episode that stood out to me was “Dipper vs Manliness”. In this episode, Dipper decides he needs to learn to “be a man.” This episode is one of my favorites, and It has interesting moments that touch on real world issues. And it firmly applies to toxic masculinity. The reason why Dipper was so entangled with the idea of becoming a real man is because he was always viewed as “soft.” The episode starts off with Dipper who declares that he is going to win everybody free pancakes by beating the Manliness Tester, a game in a diner that tests your manliness level. But Mabel and Grunkle Stan just laugh at him. Grunkle Stan makes fun of Dipper, citing an incident where he found Dipper in the bathroom singing “disco girl” (yes, it’s a parody of that one ABBA song lmao) into a comb. Dipper then attempts to win the free pancakes but fails. A card comes out that says, “You are a cutie patootie!” to the sound of a baby laughing and nursery music playing in the background. Dipper runs off to the forest embarrassed where he meets a manotaur (half-man, half-taur!!) and encounters tests of bravery to become a real man, but then Dipper is given the task to bring back the multi-bear’s head to the leader of the mantaurs. And Dipper finds the Multi-Bear and defeats him. However, the bear asks Dipper if he could grant his last wish before he dies. Dipper agrees and the Multi-Bear points to a tiny radio in the corner of its cave, asking Dipper to play the tape already in it. Dipper turns it on and the Multi-Bear reveals that his favorite song is Disco Girl. Realizing that the Manotaurs bullied the Multi-Bear because he likes this song (which is a sign of girliness), he decides to let the multi-bear live and tells the manotaurs that they’re a bunch of jerks if they want him to do it. The manotaurs leave him telling him he will never become a man. He goes back to the diner to tell Grunkle Stan and Mabel what happened. Due to being his own man and standing up for what was right, Grunkle Stan tells Dipper that what he did “sounds pretty manly” to him, enlightening Dipper. The whole show overall has its own meaning by the end of the series. When the show came out I was about 9 years old. I always found the show fascinating as I was pretty adventurous as a kid myself (my mom told me). I always loved how the series showed how the kids grew mentally and succeeded at their goals. Now as a 19 year old, i admire the bravery that the twins had throughout their summer adventures and how the creator of the show put meaningful messages throughout the series.
It’s truly one of the best animated TV shows I’ve ever watched. I still cry watching the show. Gravity Falls succeeds in conveying the very essence of what it means to be a child, growing up in a world that you don’t fully understand.