Adventure Time is an animated cartoon in the Cartoon Network. The series follows the adventures of Finn, a 14-year-old human boy, and his best friend Jake, a dog with magical powers to change shape and grow and shrink at will. Finn and Jake live in the post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo. I chose to write about a specific episode called Princess Cookie which raises many questions on the relevant gender roles issues in this society. Princess Cookie” focuses on a rogue cookie, named Baby-Snaps who has taken a group of candy people hostage in a store because Princess Bubblegum will not give him a crown and deem him a princess, which is when Finn and Jake are called in to solve the problem. In an attempt to disarm the rouge cookie, Finn and Jake disguise themselves and enter the store as a milkman (Jake) and his shadow (Finn).
Trying to relax Baby-Snaps, Jake talks with him which further reveals why he is taking things to an extreme: In Baby-Snap’s past, living in a depressing Candy Orphanage, he had come across Princess Bubblegum, a glorious princess who had told him he could be anything he wanted to be. However, when Baby-Snaps revealed his wish of wanting to be a princess like her, Princess Bubblegum belittles him by laughing at his dream. In order to console Baby-Snaps, Jake tells him a story about how Princess Bubblegum did not let him be a mailman.
In the end, Jake takes Baby-Snap’s side and helps him escape, until Baby-Snaps decides to give up and essentially attempts suicide by jumping off a cliff, coming to a realization that he will never be seen as a real princess. At the end of the episode, Jake arrives at a Candy Kingdom Mental Hospital, where Baby-Snaps now resides after his incident, beholding a gift to cheer the cookie up: a princess crown from the Grass Kingdom.
It finally awards Baby-Snaps his dream to be a princess to a group of people, even if it’s in a mental hospital. Overall, the episode has been praising its unusually heavy themes of bending gender roles, transgender issues in children, suicide, disenfranchised individuals and even reflects a problem in everyday youth about being a friend for someone before it’s too late. I have seen that there’s been a lot of controversy on whether or not princess cookie was intended by the writers to be ransgender… however; I think this is an irrelevant argument. I think that’s totally up for viewer interpretation and was meant to be. However, I think the most important thing that this episode did was actively challenge gender roles, which is something that can certainly be attributed to kids of any sexual orientation, whether that be straight, gay, transgender, questioning, etc. the point is, gender roles are such a destructive thing.
I think we’re all familiar with the concept: “you can’t play [insert ‘gender specific’ game] with us because you’re a boy/girl! ” Children who show interest anything that goes against their gender role, pertaining to their biological sex, are generally “corrected” by society, thus instantly instilling the idea that “I’m a boy/girl, therefore I must do ____”. Princess cookie completely rebutted this idea. He wanted to be a princess because he knew princesses could help people. What does it matter if “boys can’t be princesses”?
Maybe he felt like one on the inside or maybe he just felt like taking on the title because he was inspired by PB? No matter the reason, it did not even occur to Jake to judge him for trying to be who he wanted to be – even if that happened to be something that was “untraditional” for a boy! The end was a very nice touch, even if it was a bit heavy, when making the decision to create an episode with this specific content, I think it’s important to showcase the lengths people can be pushed to when judged for just trying to be themselves.