Article by Caroline Stephenson.
We all know the feeling of having to say goodbye to a show or series that we love, and fans of Disney’s GRAVITY FALLS must endure that pain today, as the hour-long series finale—hosted by creator Alexander Hirsch—airs tonight on Disney XD.
I had no idea what I was getting into when my roommate sat me down and demanded to show me what she referred to as THE X-FILES for kids. Being a fan of cartoons, I was more than willing to watch a few episodes, but little did I know how quickly I would fall in love with the Pines Family and the strange town of Gravity Falls.
The skinny: Twins Dipper (Jason Ritter) and Mabel Pines (Kristen Schaal) are spending the summer in Gravity Falls, Roadkill County, Oregon with their Great Uncle Stan (Grunkle Stan voiced by Alex Hirsch), who runs a tourist trap called The Mystery Shack. It’s very clear that something is amiss in the small town, and with the help of an oddly knowledgeable journal the twins find in the forest, Dipper and Mabel begin to uncover the mysteries that lie at the heart of Gravity Falls. Along the way, they must navigate new friendships, summer love, and their relationship as siblings, while encountering all sorts of cryptids and odd phenomena, including the nefarious time demon Bill Cypher and “The Author” of the journal(s).
While the show is marketed to kids, it can be enjoyed by anyone in their double digits. Hirsch took notes from the much-loved THE SIMPSONS, realizing that “animation didn’t have to just be for kids. That it could be satirical and observational and grounded in a sense of character interaction”. He held strongly to these ideals as he created a show that seamlessly blended both comedic and character moments. Hirsch was also a big X-FILES fan growing up (surprise, surprise), and cited that show—along with EERIE, INDIANA—as two series that were successful in creating a “sincerity about magic”. He told AVClub.com, “they treated magic not just as a joke, but they found a realness to the unreal, which in turn made the drama more compelling, made the comedy funnier in contrast to it. ”
I have a lot of love for any series that can accomplish this feat, but there is a special place in my heart for children’s shows that are character-driven and meaningful, because it appeals to both my inner nine-year-old and the more mature consumer that craves stellar storytelling. I’m also of the mind-set that kids can handle and also appreciate stories that are compelling and rely on more than just goofy jokes and senseless babble. GRAVITY FALLS was clever and funny, and at times made my heart ache to be a kid again. I loved every minute of the show and cannot thank the creators enough for taking me on such a wonderful adventure. I know watching the finale will leave tears in my eyes, but I’m sure it will be because they’ve wrapped up the series in the best possible way.