Adventure Time and Portrayal of Female Friendship in Fiction

I’m now regretting giving up on Adventure Time for so long after season 4.  It really did rebound a good bit with season 5, even though some of ‘morals’ struck me as strange and inappropriate (such as children not needing their father).  It’s still fairly clear that it has given up on being a kids’ show, but the storytelling was a good bit better, and, going into it as an underground comics style gonzo horror fantasy instead of a weird wacky kids show, it’s pretty good for what it is.

What miffs me, though – and this position is one that may court controversy (shocking, I know!) – is the direction that the comics have taken with Princess Bubblegum and Marceline.  There’s always been fanon and shippers who see these characters as OTP, but I found the heavy implication that they get together as a couple somewhat annoying.  No, I don’t hate gays or lesbians, real or fictional; what I hate is the tendency for whenever you see a deep friendship between two female characters people want to make them a couple. There’s always the Peter Griffin slowly popping up from behind the bush going “C’mon… start makin’ out… that’s it…”

Throwing Flame Princess into the mix along with repeatedly showing that PB is a romantic dead end for Finn and flash-forwards showing Finn and FP married pretty much leaves both PB and Marceline single and without suitor.  There’s a desire in fandoms that all characters be paired off romantically; unfortunately that leaves characters like PB and Marcie, who’ve been shown to have a complex friendship with ups and downs, to have their friendship turned into “oh, they’re an item”.

So, I guess what I’m getting at is when nuanced portrayals of female friendships are uncommon in works with as wide a demographic an appeal as Adventure Time, it seems kind of obnoxiously reductive to say ‘it’s cuz they’re a couple and they’re in love’.  It’s like girls in fiction can’t have best friends without people wanting them to get it on, and the Adventure Time comics seem to want to cater to those who fantasize about best girlfriends doing it, cuz that’s secretly what they do, right?

I will note that the implication is significantly less in the show than in the comics; the implication itself smacks of retroactive continuity, as it was something not present at all in earlier seasons.  As it is, the whole thing comes off as being shaped by a fandom that wants to see Peebs xxx Marcie.  Also, yeah, I know I’m like a year and a half late on this controversy.  Whateves.

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3 responses to “Adventure Time and Portrayal of Female Friendship in Fiction

  1. I don’t read the comics, but the PB/Marcie romantic vibe has bothered me, as well. Moreso because I prefer not to have SJW values shoehorned into every cranny of nerd culture now, but YMMV.

    • I don’t even think it has to do with SJW values; it’s more of a rule 34 thing that some members of the creative team behind it were okay with enough to run with.

      In the show, you have to squint your eyes pretty hard to read it that way (at least through what I’ve seen), but the arc I saw in the comic pretty clearly implied that they get married and rule the candy kingdom together. Future PBG whispering in each of present day PBG and Marcie’s ears and both of them blushing is what pushed it into ‘not just best friends’ territory.

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