There can be benefits to having insomnia. Occasionally, you stumble across a gem while scrolling through Hulu Plus at 2 A.M..
Last month, I had a run of sleepless nights so I quickly exhausted my backlog of New Girl and The Mindy Project episodes. I needed to fill another hour of sleeplessness so I decided to take my friend’s recommendation and try a little show called Gravity Falls.
I am so glad I did.
Gravity Falls is an X-Files-like show that aired on The Disney Channel from 2012-2016. (Don’t let that four year gap lean you on. There are only two seasons of this show.) It follows the adventures of twins Dipper and Mabel Pines as they visit their Grunkle Stan in the titled town.
Like many fictionalized towns in the Pacific Northwest, Gravity Falls has its share of secrets, mysteries, and quirky characters for the twins to encounter. Grunkle Stan also happens to run the Mystery Shack–which unsurprisingly is the center of a fair bit of weirdness itself. Over the course of the series, Mabel and Dipper encounter gnomes, unicorns, a self-aware dating game, and a triangle bent on world domination. These misadventures are often reminiscent of classic Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Horror stories–making this series perfect viewing for the pop culture nerds of all ages.
Along with these homages and otherwise wacky stories, Gravity Falls boasts of amazing characters with depth and originality. Mabel is adorable, loyal, and adventurous while her brother is more cerebral and curious. As for Stan, well, he might be a con man on the outside but he loves his family more than anything deep down. It really is amazing how these characters always manage to ground Gravity Falls in reality even when they’re dealing with monsters and the end of the world.
The animation and voice-acting are also first rate. Jason Ritter and Kristen Schaal are particularly amazing as Dipper and Mabel, but I adored Nathan Fillion, Chelsea Peretti, Nick Offerman, and Neil deGrasse Tyson’s guest appearances as well. Alex Hirsch, Gravity Falls’ showrunner, is even more brilliant as Grunkle Stan. Seriously, him being able to create this show and voice-act so well is beyond impressive!
Now, you should know that your preference for the first or second season of Gravity Falls will entirely depend on whether you are partial to serialized or episodic storytelling in your animated shows. Personally, I prefer episodic so it’s not surprising then that, while I enjoyed the second season, I loved Gravity Falls’ first season so much more. I adored the humor in the stand alone episodes, the quirky homages, and the gradual character development of Dipper, Mabel, and Grunkle Stan. Once the story switched gears in Season Two to build up to the grand finale (Alex Hirsch knew he was ending the show after Season Two), most of the humor’s lost and the homages nearly disappeared (except for one notable Dungeons and Dragons episode). Of course, none of that stopped me nearly giving into tears when the finale wound to a close. Gravity Falls always excelled in creating memorable, complicated characters so that, even when the tone and storytelling style of the show changed, I was still incredibly invested in their stories.
While I wish Gravity Falls could have developed its weird world in future seasons, I’m glad that the creator got to tell Dipper, Mabel, and Stan’s story on his terms. Gravity Falls is a perfect snapshot of a show. It left me wanting more, but I am completely satisfied with the two seasons I was given.
I highly, highly recommend checking out Gravity Falls if you love wacky stories, engaging characters, and animated pigs.
What is your favorite animated television show?
Image Source: Kiss Them Goodbye