Animated TV shows have an amazing ability to attract a viewership outside their supposed target audience. This is particularly true for Cartoon Network shows, but Disney XD has a great show of its own that’s often overlooked: Gravity Falls.
Created by Alex Hirsch, Gravity Falls follows twins Mabel and Dipper who are sent to spend their summer at their great uncle’s Mystery Shack in the mysterious town of Gravity Falls. Season one is pleasingly bizarre, featuring gnomes, ghosts, mermen, and the adorably evil Lil’ Gideon. By the end of the first season and into the second, the show becomes genuinely unsettling through the introduction of Bill Cipher, a reality-warping floating triangle man voiced by Hirsch himself.
What tends to keep you watching, though, is not the antagonists, but the brightly coloured main characters. Dipper Pines, voiced by Jason Ritter, is an adventurous, anxious 12-year-old boy who, despite fitting the archetype of many similar protagonists, still manages to be relatable and a genuinely good character. His sister Mabel is the real gem of the show. Voiced by Kristen Schaall, Mabel is bright, bubbly and ridiculous, and provides comic relief while maintaining the integrity of a three-dimensional character. It’s difficult not to fall in love with her light-up sweaters, obsessive personality and optimistic attitude, and Schaall voices her perfectly. The other main characters, the money-grabbing ‘Grunkle’ Stan; the clueless Soos, and cool teenager/object of Dipper’s affection, Wendy, are all equally entertaining. Every character has their own history and personality that is explored throughout the show, but Gravity Falls does suffer a little from a lack of character development. This is common for shows on children’s channels, which are rarely shown in the correct order anyway.
Gravity Falls doesn’t dull with repeated watching either, and there are plenty of call-backs and moments of significant symbolism you’re bound to miss first time round. Mabel and Dipper’s world offers a form of vivid escapism similar to other animated shows like Adventure Time or Bee and Puppycat. If you’re a fan of animation, Gravity Falls should definitely be at the top of your to-watch list.