Adventure Time returned to television last week, and with its first two opening episodes, it gave Princess Bubblegum the backstoy that she needed, and the direction she deserved. Particularly, Varmints might as well be one of the best representation of a female character in an animated series in recent history.
In a single episode, we get to explore the multiple facets of Princess Bubblegum’s personality, other than just merely being cute, sweet, and pink. Bonnibel Bubblegum shows herself as a scientist, a political leader, and a fighter, but she also opens up to the things that drive her to do what she does—both the good and the bad. She admits to being a quitter, being disappointed in herself for her failures, being tired, and frustrated of having to push away good friends in order to focus on work.
Bonnie successfully breaks the Overly Serious Type of female characters. OST’s often have dark hair and an even darker past. Guarded, serious, and tough, their characters are interesting and badass enough to fool anyone into thinking that they are feminist characters. But all they ever really do is turn women into what men idealize about themselves–emotionless, unaffected, and always using violence to mask everything. They are characters that are never allowed to grieve over their losses, instead they look into the distance, remember for a few seconds what had happened to them, as the wind blows through their hair. And then they kick your ass. More than teaching us that women have the capability of being strong characters, they actually show us that females can’t be, unless they act like a man.
And this is where Adventure Time wins it. Princess Bubblegum, with a blaster gun and a whole host of her other inventions, comes in with Marcelline to shoot down a few Varmints, large creatures made mostly of a huge mouth, and their spider-like legs. But through their adventure of blasting down some baddies and exploring caves and jumping from edge to edge, they manage to tap into the friendship they seem to have lost, Bubblegum’s expectations of herself, and her frustrations with the happiness she couldn’t seem to find.
With the spotlight focused on her, it’s as clear as day that Bonnibel Bubblegum has grown far beyond the character that was once there to just be Finn’s pretty in pink love interest.