One of the defining arcs of Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe is centered on the relationship between Steven and his mother Rose Quartz. At first Steven idealized anything associated with her but soon came to learn Rose was far more complicated. She had shattered Gems in the war. She didn’t always make the right decision. She was flawed.
As the series has progressed Steven continues to struggle to accept the flaws in his mother while still trying to love her. It hasn’t been easy but recent episodes have seen him finally start to understand why she did what she did.
“No one is perfect in Steven Universe,” explains former Steven Universe writer Matt Burnett.
“No one is a straight good guy and no one is a straight bad guy, its about shades of gray,” adds fellow writer Ben Levin.
In writing the series the team focused on building up Rose Quartz for both Steven and the viewers and then tearing her down. Levin elaborates further.
“Rose was talked about in a way that felt like how a lot of characters are held up on a pedestal in supernatural fantasy type stories,” Levin says. “Getting to explore that character as more of a nuanced person and what it’s like to live in the shadow of a nuanced person, that was a fun storyline to expand.”
The seminal episode “Storm in the Room” had Steven confront this image of his mother head on. Stories such as that were key to the writers of Steven Universe. “When someone you love does something wrong, do you cast that person out?” asks Burnett. “Or do you embrace them for their flaws? Do you try and teach them a better way?”
Burnett hints that Steven will continue to grapple with those questions in future episodes.