Posted February 25, 2016 by GP Manalo in Movies/TV

Remembering the Awesomeness of “Disney’s Gravity Falls”

In the year 2012, there was nothing much going on in the house of mouse when it comes to their TV department. The usual being, factorizing child stars to have TMZ shoving them on your face 25/8, Phineas and Ferb making enough episodes only to do specials the year after, and more sitcoms, cartoons, and TV movies that belonged to the oblivion of the 90s. It was in that same year when Gravity Falls debuted and got better and better with each episode that drew a large following. The second season on the other hand, takes the show to higher heights. So is Gravity Falls an overall good show on TV right now? The short answer is: Yes and “more than just GOOD”, now be prepared for the long answer.

215685-gravity-falls-gravity-fallsBut before I could get anywhere, what is this show about?

Twins Dipper and Mabel Pines are sent to spend the summer with their great-uncle, Grunkle Stan, in the mysterious town of Gravity Falls. Grunkle Stan has the kids help him run The Mystery Shack, the tourist trap that he owns. The twins try to adapt to the weird surroundings but sense there is something strange about Gravity Falls and begin to unlock its secrets. When Dipper uncovers a cryptic journal that offers insight into the town’s mysteries, he and Mabel use it and their enthusiastic desire to uncover the mysteries behind the weirdness of the little town and the author of the journal.

To be honest, I never followed Gravity Falls as passionately as my friends did at first (I was pretty late in the game); I would catch it on TV and the episodes I would watch aren’t exactly the ones that would get me into the hype (my first episodes being “Boss Mabel” and “Boyz Crazy” – both episodes giving me a good laugh but after it I never went back for it). But then I caught episodes like “Summerween” and “Northwest Mansion Mystery” both episodes catching my interest into the mystery aspect of the show and even having some clever laughs.

Those were the episodes that convinced me to watch them right from the first episode of the first season. I binged watched the entire show on my break right before the controversial episode “Not What He Seems”. And to those who do know about what happened in that episode, you could just imagine how that episode broke my sanity. But recalling the first two episodes I watched, I did have a new found appreciation for them (so stop sending me that hate mail for talking smack about Boss Mabel and Boyz Crazy).


I hear this remark a lot when I started getting into it. The show may appear as your standard family cartoon show, but to quote Grunkle Stan’s meta-line that actually describes this show itself “this show has a BIG mystery element and a lot of humor that goes over kids’ heads!” The show at its core is both smart and witty in terms of the mystery aspect and its sense of humor. It’s a rare animated show that understands where to begin and end, while in between finding some really strong places to flesh out their characters and actually follow a developing overall story. It’s in the humor and clever dialogue where we see Hirsch being the master of words, while the mystery element that also involves its fans shows that he can be real The Mystery Man as well.

There are two kinds of episodes in this show; the ones that would just be there to flesh out the characters bit-by-bit by also delivering some good laughs and teach some good life lessons (which we will get on later). And then there are the plot heavy ones that would take the show to another level. Has this always been perfect? Not exactly… There were episodes in the second half of the second season felt rushed to me, but they were still overall good episodes. In fact I don’t even think there was a bad episode of Gravity Falls!

When I was watching this show in full I couldn’t believe how much these things past the censors. My favorite line having Grunkle Stan talk to a mind-switched Dipper about the pituitary gland being “small but has BIG ideas” along with other dirty jokes in there that does give dirty minded “adults” like me laugh about for hours. The subjects would always be poking fun at recent and past pop culture too; one episode poking fun at the nature of the 90s making things uncool look cool (with jive language) and another episode making fun at boy bands being scientific creations the entire time (SEE! I’m not the only one with this idea). But other than the dirty jokes and the pop culture references, there were some graphic violence and imagery too (for a TV Y7 rating at least). There was a fist fight between Dipper and Gideon at the end of season 1 where you could feel every punch and even so featuring some demonic elements that would make conservatives spray holy water on your kids’ eyes and television. This being a monster show and all, it’s not like Scooby Doo monsters where it’s just a man underneath, they really are creatures that could give your kids nightmares.

maxresdefaultMysterious Mysteries

As said previously, Alex Hirsch is Mr. Mystery himself as there are so many clues that come to play in the overarching story. Season one sets the rules, season two is where shit goes down. But when there would be an episode that is said to have all of the answers, it does but at the same time you would find yourself asking new questions as well (The second season’s first half story arc is the best example). It is as if it involves the audience who follows the series as we try to go back and uncover some cleverly put together hints, even in smaller episodes (Especially with the ciphers and glyphs in the end credits). I just recently discovered that in the filler episode of Grunkle Stan trying to rip off a visitor, he shared a story of how Waddles gave up his invention for a jealous sibling who means the world to him is something that would end up echoing Stan’s bitterness and grief towards his failed relationship with Stanford. It’s the mysteries that are worth analyzing and worth going back to every time.

RivalryYou’ll be surprised, they teach good life lessons as well

The show has 20 episodes, and they were able to flesh out these said stereotyped characters in situations that one would deem as cliché. But in reality, these situations not only brought out the best in its characters but also some great life lessons as well. Yes, in the same show where a pig can think and talk like Neil deGrasse Tyson and rainbow puking gnomes, they have some life lessons that could be great for both kids and adults. Life lessons in kids shows could beat you in the head over and over like Captain Planet and even Sonic the Hedgehog’s PSAs, It’s in Gravity Falls where these lessons  intertwines subtly with the story.

Dipper learned that the true way to manliness is standing up for yourself and what you believe in and letting your insecurities stop you from accomplishing certain things. Mabel learned to appreciate one’s unique personal qualities despite their imperfections (they are yours after all); in the end, both siblings (along with Ford and Stan) learning that despite their polar opposites, every working relationships are built on compromise and sacrifice. More so on how one’s good or bad decisions could backfire, family being in the unexpected places, and how at the end of everything your true friends will show and fight the battle with you/ Of course I’m just scratching the surface here but these are just a few of the best lessons this show has to offer (the article is long enough already anyways). It was lessons like these that made me wish that shows like this existed in a time where I was just a wee lad trying to figure out the world. Granted, I still think we had great shows back in the day, but not as great as this one.

The Characters                                                                              

On a surface level, Dipper and Grunkle Ford appears as the know-it-all, Mabel and Grunkle Stan are the dumb and quirky type, while Soos is the lovable man-child, and Wendy being the moody teen. But as the show furthers you get to see these people not act like the walking stereotypes you thought they were at first. Hirsch along with his vocal cast members breathes life to these characters where they can be quite relatable a lot of the times in the show.

Dipper and Grunkle Ford are gifted with intelligence and advanced information with a life of adventure people dream of, but their thoughts of not being good enough and their obsessiveness gets in the way. Mabel and Grunkle Stan, are witty and occasionally positive but they had their own fair share of distractions that detracts them from their own personal growth. Soos, is fun but refuses to accept the reality he’s in and distracts himself from flashy stuff. Wendy is cool, but her angst and toughness has its own source from the stressful experiences she has gone through when she was growing up. Li’l Gideon does appear as the typical villain with the southern accent but he falls under the category of Ford and Dipper as well. The characters aren’t exactly perfect, as they do have their own flaws that make them less than just characters but more human.


In the end, Alex Hirsch and company makes a delightful end to one of the best western cartoons in television right now. The heart being the humor and emotional core are what made this series make a satisfying whole. The overall show is one of the best explorations of childhood, seeing how much the show changed these characters is one of the things that made the ending feel satisfying and rewarding. Making Hirsch’s promise of the show’s end with their birthday in the last day of summer is quite symbolical and above all emotional (than logical than Hirsch said in a Reddit AMA) for not only the kids’ growth but the other characters of the main cast as well. Thanks for everything, Alex Hirsch.



GP Manalo

G.P. Manalo is a student by day, and a resident tortured writer by night. Writing to keep him sane from all the Business School papers and presentations piling up each week.