Hey, why not let’s talk about something I really like. And I really like Gravity Falls, which is a cartoon show made by Disney, seemingly under a sort of duress. I mean, it’s a strange little piece of what I guess I can only really call rural urban fantasy, with a modern-day setting, complete with smart-phones and cars and despite that, it successfully manages to weave a multi-series conspiracy theory narrative that pulls together all sorts of wonderful stories from a variety of American folklore sources. I mean we’re talking alien crashes and roadside attractions and just general, all-purpose the weird and unsettling and paranoia-fuelling –
I have such a hard time talking about how good this show is because there really isn’t anything like it. I’ve called it glibly Tween Peaks, and I’ve invoked The X Files while talking about it but that doesn’t do the show justice because it’s so much smarter and so much better than both Twin Peaks and the X-Files. It’s coherent and it’s layered and its aesthetic is soaked through the whole thing, with this sort of beautiful postcard letters-from-the-road streetside ridiculousness. Rather than ignore the obvious and immediate concerns of the story space, like we do in most conspiracy narratives (why aren’t there any pictures of this), Gravity Falls uses its aesthetic and style – a small American roadside town – and its tone – comedy – to reinforce it. It’s a town full of weirdoes and that weirdness is part of the script. So much of the narrative folds back on itself, it’s just so dense with rewatchable traits…
And it’s also a super-sweet story about a wonky, fractured little family. It’s about a girl going through a boy-crazy phase, about a boy struggling with ideas of masculinity and family. It is also so enthusiastically itself. Even its cringe humour comes from a place of love.
So I guess what I’m saying is I really like Gravity Falls and wish I was better at saying that.