Why you should watch this season/show
General minority rating: Yellow
- Feminism: Yellow (by a margin of a token feminist episode. Otherwise, debatable with orange)
- LGBT: Light Green
- Race: Yellow
- Culture: Orange
Bechdel?: Nope. Rarely provides enough female characters to provide the chance. When they do, it usually goes unused.
In other words, this show helps the LGBT+, but not others. Gay males would especially enjoy the subtext the show presents. Highly recommend for LGBT children.
Racial minorites and feminists may feel frustrated over the lost potential this show has. That will be explained later.
Strengths: Satisfying trope twists, clever & creative use of tropes, Good characterization, accurate character chemistry, good for character psychoanalysis, good voice acting, strong female main character, villains actually seeing multiple enemies as individuals, sneaking in LGBT moments, sneaking in neurodivergency, good aesop portrayal, kindness aesops, and nice music.
Flaws: Sylvia is a main character instead of a secondary protagonist, not using characters to full potential, character development is somewhat unstable and nonsensical, unstable plot development, consequence of violence is downplayed, sexist treatment of background characters, aliens based on earthlings, most cultures are white!American-esque or stereotypes they have, missing out on exploring interesting themes they present, and that minor change in the opening theme when it’s a Hater based episode. Because it sounds bad.
In other words: It’s an intelligent show. If this show were a person, it’d be the ditzy professor: successful on difficult topics, but sometimes forgetting how to apply common sense.
People looking for a show that knows how to create interesting plots and twists will enjoy this. Laid back people may also enjoy this. Science-lovers and activists will have fanfic fodder.
Parents looking for a show for their kids will find this to be a great break from normal shows that treat their children as stupid.
People who enjoy comedy will also enjoy this, especially fans of slapstick. As for the other types of comedies…I’m too serious to detect them. I’m sorry.
If you like ___ you may like Wander Over Yonder: Looney Tunes, Steven Universe, & Undertale. I’ve noticed that Gravity Falls fans tend to like this too, but I’m not sure what the shared appeal is (besides cartoon). Crassness? Humor? Lots of weird looking non-humanoid, sentient characters?
General story (optional)
Wander Over Yonder is about a pair of altruistic alien vagabonds who travel thru space.
Wander’s goal is to spread joy throughout the galaxy, and tough-as-nails Sylvia is there to support his efforts as a steed, thru violence, and keeping him on a sane track.
The duo live in a galaxy filled with tiny, habitable planets. Most of these have interesting alien designs but very humanoid (and “Western”) culture.
Villains are colonizing every planet in sight.
One of them is Lord Hater, the main antagonist. With him is his confidant Commander Peepers. They live on a cool space ship shaped like a skull (with a tongue as an entrance!) Together they control an army of single-raced, male watchdogs. By word of the creator, they’re all men because Lord Hater is terribly flustered by women (except, apparently, Sylvia).
What kind of show is this?: This is an adventure-action-fantasy comedy that takes place in space. It’s not sci-fi. It has the elements necessary to make a sci-fi. But it lacks a love of learning invoked in the true definition of sci-fi.
Rather, it focuses on comedy and aesops.
A good portion of it is an homage to Looney Tunes, so naturally a lot of the comedy is slapstick. There’s plenty of other types spread throughout, however.
Its moral lessons tend to focus on kindness. Which is a little disconcerting with the vast amount of slapstick. But then, the kindness isn’t about not physically abusing others, it’s about being aware of other’s psychological and basic needs and helping them. Priorities, people.
However, it does treat physical violence as violence. Never does the “befriend by beating them up” occur. Characters are aggressive due to direct orders to be, defense, and/or psychological issues; and the show understand this. The closest we get to this is trope is thru mental violence via trickster shenanigans.
This is the kind of show that’s partially aware of itself. It has a foot in reality.
But as mentioned earlier, this is a cartoon comedy, and it is not a sci-fi. Nor is it an educational show.
So the laws of physics usually don’t apply; so please throw that science out the window if you decide to step into the show. Genius bonuses do exist, however.
Most episodes can be watched out of order (I did, unawares. Oops.)
The goods and bads in depth
As mentioned at the top, the best thing about this show is the characters and its own cleverness.
Wander is a love-or-hate character. The “other” main character is actually the villlain Hater. Not Sylvia, Wander’s steed. Hater’s also a love-or-hate character. He’s often loved by those annoyed by Wander. (It’s perfect.) The show responds to this by adjusting its opening song for Hater-centric episodes. (although the change was done badly–it just clashes with the melody of the song.)
Sylvia and Peepers, the tritagonists, are more generally likeable. Certain minor characters have their appeal as well.
Characterization itself is pretty good. Everyone feels like an individual. Their attributes could be handled better, but it’s handled well enough.
The best way this show plays with their characters is when they interact with eachother. This show instinctually emphasizes dynamics, and it works. I can actually believe that the personalities are accurately reacting to the other personalities. The chemistry feels right. It feels real.
As for the cleverness, it plays with tropes. As one YouTuber (on a “The Hero” clip, I believe) stated: “The twists on this show are just so satisfying.”
This series understands tropes and how to play with them to achieve a unique, well-played result.
And they use that to sneak in gay, feminist, and non-neurotypical aspects (amongst other things) in characterization. And I really appreciate that.
On the downside, there is sexism. Mostly as a result of minor/background characters in stereotypical roles, but also the lack of female characters, and bechdel-passing. The show seems to think it’s feminist, but it’s actually up and down. That will be explained in depth on a different article.
If you’re a feminist parent; I recommend watching a more feminist show alongside this one. Rather than dismissing, I think this show is great for having a child evaluate its feminism. I know I’ve learned some things from it!
Another sad thing is that all of the alien cultures are US/Canada-Eurocentric. No unique alien cultures. There are a couple of ambiguously human minor characters, who are pretty much blonde/blue-eyed Europeans.
In spite of the plot centralizing on colonization, the effects of such aren’t fleshed out. It would’ve been much darker if it were, but I think this is a slight on either McCracken’s (the creator) or Disney’s part.
Overall: I recommend this series. It’s thoroughly charming.
If you’re a parent, I recommend discussing the show’ issues with your child. Rather then avoiding, I suggest using it as a learning experience. It’ll work out even better for learning when season 2 rolls around.
If you’re an adult/teen, go for it. There’s hidden jokes and room for contemplation that you’ll enjoy. If you’re here just to see of season 1 is worth watching before season 2, I recommend watching the better episodes* if you don’t want to watch the whole series. The characterization is too important.
*(I recall a picture showing thumbnails of all the season 1 episodes with “good”, “okay”, “bad”, and “best” underneath them; but I can’t find it. If you know where it is, I’d appreciate it.)
(Also, I think The Toddler, while only okay, has some important demonstrations in it, IMHO.)