One summer, twins Mabel and Dipper are dropped off to live with their Uncle Stan in the sleepy town of Gravity Falls… but not all is as it seems. Over the course of two seasons on the Disney Channel and Disney XD, the twins go on an assortment of spooky and exciting adventures. Created by Alex Hirsch, Gravity Falls felt like this magical concoction of curiosity and wonder. It made me laugh as much as it made me cry. The highest compliment I can give is that it’s the kind of show I wish I had watched when I was growing up (but still find it amazing as an adult). With thoughtful approaches to themes that adults and kids can get behind, here are five reasons you need to make a journey to Gravity Falls right now.
1. Genre Meets Coming-Of-Age Tale
Alex Hirsch has described Gravity Falls as Twin Peaks meets The Simpsons, but it contains plenty of nods to shows like X-Files and movies like Alien, Mad Max, and even Pacific Rim. Yet, every reference is in service to the story in that episode. One of my favorite examples is in season two when the twins, along with badass Wendy and goofball Soos, encounter a creature that’s a riff on John Carpenter’s The Thing, but as a way for Dipper to reveal his true feelings for someone in an unexpected and touching way.
2. Perfect Cast, Perfect Characters
Kristen Schaal is a prolific actor and hilarious comedian and Mabel is her warmest performance yet. With every candy-colored sweater, the layers of Mabel are peeled back to reveal a character who’s so deeply open to the world in all the worst and best ways. Meanwhile Jason Ritter’s Dipper has a harder job of carrying the narrative through-line in many episodes, but the playful tension between fear and curiosity always endears us to his struggles. Linda Cardallini as Wendy Corduroy, the teenage lumberjack badass, literally smashes her way to our hearts. Alex Hirsch infuses so much life into the lovable goof Soos AND Grunkle Stan, the grumpy con man with a heart of gold. The guest star list is also staggering, with Weird Al Yankovic as a Dungeons & Dragons wizard, Chelsea Peretti as a seductive spider, and Louis C.K. as the ‘The Horrifying Sweaty One-Armed Monstrosity,” among many others.
3. Homestar Runner Roots
Homestar Runner is a flash-animated web cartoon that reigned supreme in the early 2000s. It was a collection of shows filled with irreverent and surreal humor that rewarded those who were dedicated to its zany cast of characters. Leave it to Alex Hirsch to bring on one of the creators of Homestar, Matt Chapman, to Gravity Falls to write eleven episodes of the two seasons including classics such as “Boyz Crazy,” “Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons,” and a “A Tale Of Two Stans.” Matt Chapman also does a lot of voices in the show, including a hilariously touching turn as Mermando, the suave Spanish mermaid (that reminds me of a certain Lucha Libre-masked wearing Homestar character) whom Mabel and Dipper rescue in season one.
4. The Mystery Twins
The relationship between Mystery Twins, Dipper and Mabel, is tested again and again in Gravity Falls, but in ways that feel real no matter the outlandish (or paranormal) circumstances. Whether it’s Mabel leaving Dipper to go work on her ‘sock opera’ when she promised to help him solve the mysteries of the town, or when Dipper ditches Mabel to go search a UFO for alien space glue instead of helping prep for their 13th birthday, in the end they realize they can’t trust anyone but each other. I have a sister that’s basically the same age so I’ve shared plenty of awkward sibling hugs in my day!
5. Pixar Perfect Attitude
Gravity Falls ultimately succeeds because of its great storytelling, expressing its themes in a big-hearted way that Pixar fans know all too well. Yet, Alex Hirsch and company appeal to the obsessive crowd and fandom in all kinds of ways, like all the ciphers and hidden puzzles in the background of every episode. There’s also plenty of humor in the show’s self-awareness. One of my favorite moments of this is when Soos, the goofball repairman of the Mystery Shack, wonders aloud to himself as he’s about to go an adventure, “If you’re a side character, you die within the first five minutes of the movie. Dude, am I a side character? Do you ever think about stuff like that?” Gravity Falls just gets me.
Do you wish there was a third season of Gravity Falls or did the show end the way you wanted to? Share your favorite Gravity Falls moments in the comments below!