“Steven Universe” Makes History, Mends Hearts in a Perfect Lesbian Wedding Episode

As a professional lesbian TV critic who’s been professionally lesbianly critiquing TV for over a decade(!) it’s hard to get me to really feel TV in my bones like I did when I was a kid — or, you know, like I did before I wrote recaps about ten hundred thousand fictional gays getting axe-murdered — so I was shocked when I heard myself whimper during Friday night’s episode of Steven Universe, and reached up to feel tears flowing down my cheeks. But these were happy tears! Real, genuine, earned, treasured, happy tears! At the end of the five-episode Heart of the Crystal Gems arc, which included a shocking revelation about Rose Quartz and a horrifying fight between Ruby and Sapphire, Steven Universe went where no animated TV show had gone before with its queer characters — to the altar.

Their wedding came to be when Ruby and Sapphire unfused during the mid-week episode “The Question” because they were in turmoil over the discovery that Rose Quartz was actually Pink Diamond. She’s the reason they became comfortable with who they were, together, after all. She called them The Answer! But if she’s not who she said she was, then who was she to tell them who they were? Ruby took off on a cowboy adventure with Steven and seemed to be having a good time on her own, but at night, by the campfire, she confessed that every cool thing they did was only a fraction as good and fun and right as it could have been if she’d shared it with Sapphire. And so she galloped back home and dropped to one knee and asked Sapphire to marry her, so they could be together even when they’re apart, and as a symbol that their love is their own decision.

And that’s where “Reunited” kicks off, and with a big-stage opening number during which Steven recounts the heartache of the discoveries and deceptions of the last few episodes, as he implores the other Gems to focus on Ruby and Sapphire, just for today.

There’s so much to love about the lead-up to the wedding: masc Gems in dresses, femme Gems in tuxes, Bismuth in her armor because it’s the nicest thing she owns, together breakfast as a wedding cake with literally perfect cake toppers, Peridot wearing a dress she very clearly fashioned on top of her regular Peridot clothes, Peridot executing her flower girl duty with gusto and reporting to “wedding commander” Steven that all the flowers had been deployed, Greg strumming “Stronger Than You” on his guitar for the wedding procession, and Ruby rushing down the aisle so fast she leaves a trail of literal fire behind her, which Amethyst has to rush to stomp out.

Oh gosh, and then the actual ceremony.

Steven: We are here today to celebrate Ruby and Sapphire, two of my favorite people who combine into one of my other favorite people. You all probably know her as Garnet. She is their love, given form. Now it’s your turn to talk about that.

Ruby:
I know this is all kind of silly. I mean, we’ve been together for 5,750 years.

Sapphire:
And eight months.

Ruby:
I used to think I wasn’t much good, just one of me on my own. But when we’re together, it feels like it’s okay to just be me. So I just want to be me, with you — and not even the Diamonds will come between us! And if they try, we’ll beat ’em up!

Sapphire:
Ruby, my future used to look like one single obvious stream, unbending until the end of time. In an instant, you pulled me from that destiny and opened my eye to an explosion of infinite possible futures, streaking across space and time, altered and obliterated by the smallest force of will. What I mean is, you changed my life, and then I changed your life, and now, we change our lives.

Ruby makes it through Steven’s I Do’s, but Sapphire just can’t wait (another lovely role reversal). And then! They smooch! On their cartoon mouths! On Cartoon Network! On primetime TV!

And that’s just the first eight minutes. The last two-thirds of the episode pays off so many other stories five seasons in the making, as Blue Diamond and Yellow Diamond arrive on the scene to use the cluster of Gem shards they forced together to destroy the planet, weeping and raging about Pink Diamond the whole time. There are almost too many surprises to count. The Cluster, for example, fights back! The Gems use the upgraded weapons Bismuth made for them, which they haven’t done since she hurt Steven! And Lapis arrives on the scene to drop a barn on Blue Diamond’s head, while Garnet runs interference!

Garnet: Blue Diamond!

Blue Diamond: Who are you supposed to be?

Garnet: I am the will of two gems to care for each other, to protect each other from any threat, no matter how vast or how cruel. You couldn’t stop me 5,750 years ago and you can’t stop me now!

Lapis’ arrival really drives home the fact that this isn’t just a group of rogue Gems fighting to save a world they learned to care about; these Gems and humans and felines of all shapes and sizes are a family. Lapis’ arrival also makes plain a theme Steven Universe has been hinting around about for its entire run. One of Blue Diamond’s powers is the ability to project sorrow onto everyone around her, which incapacitates them. Garnet is the only Gem who is kind of able to fight back against Blue Diamond in “Reunited,” but even she falls victim to the crushing sadness being projected onto her. It’s Lapis, who has demonstrated deeper depression than any other Gem, who flings a single tear from her eye and says, “I’ve felt worse!” before using her powers to chain Blue Diamond and cut off her aura long enough for Steven and his family to fight back. Her power is the strength she’s found from healing her trauma and fighting her depression!

Blue and Yellow are ultimately driven off Earth — for now. And everyone gets to take a deep breath and figure out where they’re going to go, together, as they deal with the aftermath of the Rose revelations and the new knowledge they have about each other and the cluster.

Steven Universe has pushed queer representation further than any other all-ages TV show ever dreamed of doing. Yes, Korra and Asami broke ground when they held hands and walked off into the sunset; Marceline and Princess Bubblegum broke ground growing up and old together in Marceline’s fever dream; Danger & Eggs broke ground when it had a trans girl voice a trans girl character in a Pride-coded episode. One of the Loud girls had a crush on another girl on a very sweet episode of Loud House. And some unnamed gay youths kissed in the background on an episode of Star vs. the Forces of Evil. But a gay wedding? Most grown-up shows don’t have the guts to give their queer characters and their queer audience that kind of tender care and attention.

There’s an awful lot of awful things we could be thinking of, but for just one day Steven Universe let us only think about love.

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.

Heather has written 725 articles for us.

28 Comments

  1. I’ve been waiting for this review! I utterly love Steven Universe. And the whole thing was just wonderful. Rose Quartz’s transness, Pearl’s love and acceptance… Seeing Ruby and Sapphire get married. I was a mess of tears every episode… Also having my head canon become actual canon. I could go on about Stephen Universe for years. We may have to wait forever, the schedule is super wonky, spoilers abound, and Ian Jones Quarterly was definitely right, being a fan is pain… But it’s all worth it. Also I recommend watching OK KO, written by Ian Jones Quarterly( Rebecca Sugars boyfriend), for Enid, who’s definitely queer, voiced by Ashley Burch… Who once again gets a time traveling girlfriend…

  2. AaaAAAAAHHH I just got spoiled but I DON’T CARE THIS IS TOO GREAT

    My partner and I are only on season 2. Yesterday she brought out the “you know what the best part about being separated is?” “What?” “I get to look at you” line and i swore I could have married her just then.

  3. After watching this episode I went back and watched a few others (Notably: “The Trial”). Is it me, or are Yellow and Blue Diamond coded as lovers, and Pink Diamond is their daughter? The rage that Yellow Diamond and the sadness that Blue Diamond feels are for their lost child. And Stevonie’s dream as Pink Diamond even portrays Yellow as their mother.

    • The vibe I always get is that Blue and Yellow are like sisters, Pink is the little sister, and White is the matriarch. Idk I feel like Yellow doesn’t really respect Blue enough but she loves her like family. I could be wrong though. I love how open to interpretation this show is while also being blatantly queer!

  4. “There’s an awful lot of awful things we could be thinking of, but for just one day Steven Universe let us only think about love.” Well this whole review, and especially this sentence, made me whimper like you watching this episode.

    It feels so amazing to just love something so much and to have it love you back just as hard, if not harder!! They’ve been planning this for YEARS, and truly the few times I’ve heard that about a show it was about something awful or a way of pulling the rug out from under us with a sloppy reveal (I’m really just talking about Pretty Little Liars, whatever it’s fine). This was so tender but also so bad-ass!! Rebecca Sugar worked on Adventure Time, right, she knows. She KNOWS. She has to deal with Cartoon Network execs all the damn time. I can’t even imagine how hard she (and her whole team) had to fight for this. And it was just so fucking cute and good and sweet and smart and GOOD!!

    Also, I love Lapis with all my heart, and I love love love how you put it, that she gets to use the strength she’s gained from fighting her depression. The way they’ve carefully told a story about trauma and depression through a cartoon character, and how they made it be ok that she had to go away, even though it was sad, because her pain and fear were totally valid, were already so good. But then! When she shows back up with that moon barn! Amazing.

    I’m scared to say this, because I feel like this is true tv hubris, but I feel like Steven Universe is the show on television right now I trust the most. You know? I feel safe putting my whole heart out there for it. That is so special.

    • your last lines there are almost exactly word for word what i was trying to sound out to my partner yesterday after we watched it!

      that absolute trust and safety in just them just… walking the walk. like you can count on it not only to be as good as you need it to be, but then it’ll also still find a way to surprise you. so special indeed!

  5. When I got married, we had Ruby and Sapphire as our cake topper, so this episode was always going to mean a lot to me. What I didn’t expect, as a slightly masculine person who had to explain over and over again why I wanted to wear a dress at my wedding, were the FEELINGS I’d have seeing Ruby in a dress, too. My heart has melted and I feel so seen.

  6. So I’m not someone who really watches “kid’s shows” but I freaking LOVE Stephen Universe!! It heals my soul. I’m seriously thinking about getting a tattoo, that’s how much I love it. Lapidot all the way!

  7. Damn it Heather now I need to go rewatch Reunited AGAIN, and I’ve already rewatched it a good half-dozen times this week, but it is too perfect to not rewatch over and over.

    (Also, huh. Those are some very trans-flag colours in the Garnet reformation shot, there.)

  8. ALSO CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW WE’RE BACK IN BISMUTH??!! <3 I'm sorry for shouting, I just love this show so gosh darn much. Anyone who wants to talk about SU stuff can message me, I'm ready to geek out whenever.

  9. I want to stare Steven’s song coz it’s SO GOOD but it’s also SO SPOILERRIFIC that I don’t know what to do.

    My haadcanon is that in the Steven Universe world tuxes are femme culture (see: Pearl).

    SPOILERS FOR THE PROMO FOR THE NEXT BUNCH OF EPISODES:

    I wouldn’t say the Diamonds have been driven off Earth yet…

  10. I didn’t even notice that the wedding cake was a together breakfast! Of COURSE.

    My favorite small detail (besides the mayor’s bodyguard doing a death drop) is definitely Peridot’s clogs. Are they crocs? Are they wooden? Where did they come from? I don’t even care, they’re perfect.

  11. “What I mean is, you changed my life, and then I changed your life, and now, we change our lives” is a sentence that’s going to bring me to tears every time I hear it and I kind of want to steal it for my own eventual wedding. My girlfriend said we should cosplay as wedding Ruby and Sapphire so I think that’s kind of a hint??? In any case THIS SHOW IS SO GOOD AND I’M CRYING FOREVER AAAA

  12. COWBOY RUBY

    EVERYONE’S WEDDING OUTFITS

    THE VOWS

    LAPIS’ WEAPONIZED DEPRESSION

    I have not been so delighted and surprised by an hour or so of TV in a long time. And I don’t think I’ve been this enthralled by an ongoing story since being Harry Potter kid.

  13. I just watched the whole 5-episode arc through for the second time and oh wow is my heart full of love! Everyone is at their funniest, their sweetest, their fiercest in those TUXES and gowns and armor.
    This year has been so difficult, but these moments where queer love is manifest (at A-Camp, at Hayley Kiyoko and Janelle Monae concerts, new generations of babyqueers) make me hopeful for the future.

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