Adventure Time: Bonnie & Neddy. Princess Bubblegum is a Bad Person.
By: Sam Quattro
So Adventure Time is back for its seventh season.
Season 6 got really cerebral. The show turned into a fun, bro dialogue-d romp in a field (obviously it’s more than that but that’s the elevator pitch) to extremely surreal (like, more than normal) and nightmare-like existential crisis. Questioning the importance of one’s life and role in the universe. If I had to say that Adventure Time is about anything these days, I’d say it’s about that. But the characters still talk like surfers getting their MFA in glassblowing. Glassblowing isn’t really offered as a major it’s more of an offshoot of glass which is an offshoot of crafts or sculpture depending on what school you’re at. Anyway.
Spoiler time. The finale last season left us with Princess Bubblegum voted out of office and the King of Ooo taking her place, which is the main setup for this string of episodes this week and probably the rest of the season. Or at least throughout the mini-series Stakes which starts its airing on the 16th of this month. There was some other stuff about a comet and Finn’s dad and Gunther’s evil alter-ego but I suggest you go back and watch all that cause I’m not talkin’ ‘bout that stuff right now.
Basically this episode is about the King of Ooo wanting to make money and making Finn and Jake go open a door that’s marked to be dangerous. They find a dragon producing candy juice behind it. Dragon runs away after K.O.O tries to talk to him. Finn and Jake run to tell Bubblegum.
To be blunt, “Bonnie & Neddy” is a very transparent metaphor for autism. See, the titular Neddy is Bubblegum’s brother. They came off the Mother Gum at the same time. She landed softly into water. He landed on a rock. Bonnie describes him as being very sensitive, Finn and Jake describe him as being a wet hot dog. He doesn’t like any outside stimulation (twigs, butterflies, other people, etc.), he doesn’t talk aside from gibberish squeals and screams, the only comfort he takes is sucking tree roots. And wouldn’t you know it, when Neddy sucks on tree roots he sucreets candy juice. Candy juice is essentially water to the Candy Kingdom. So Bubblegum has him locked in a tower sucking on tree roots producing candy juice. As long as he’s happy I guess? Obviously, autism is a wide variety of things. No one person who has it is the same as the other. Neddy here seems to embody someone who would be low functioning. The lack of verbal speech, the immense dislike of stimulation; but the AT writers seem like they saw something on TLC a few years ago about autism and here we are with an episode. A distilled version of the subject, stereotypical almost. I guess that’s what you get in 11 minutes.
I don’t know. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The episode ends with Bubblegum returning Neddy to his post, who is ecstatic about being back and happily goes back to sucking. Bubblegum tells Finn, and the audience too I guess, “People get built different. We don’t need to figure it out, we just need to respect it.” That’s a solid sentiment for the topic the writers are trying to chase at. But I didn’t really get the sense of respect from this at all.
I mean, it’s good that Bubblegum was looking out for her brother and putting him in an environment where he was happy; but she was still using him for her own gain. She was using him to build the makeup of the Candy Kingdom, which was her own happiness. She says to Finn in this episode that she missed being in the “shared womb” environment of the Mother Gum, so that’s why she made the candy people. It feels very condescending, as if Neddy is not even a person, he’s just a factory making a product. But he’s happy to be sucking on the roots alone. Some people just roll alone, which is something Bubblegum also tells us this episode. It just really sucks that his sister is using him without his knowledge, his consent. She’s a ruthless leader using whatever exploit she can for the betterment of her people. Even if it’s her own brother and his candy juice flabs. I wonder if she feels bad about it.
Bubblegum is…complex to say the least. I feel weird that she’s one of my favorite characters. She’s not a very good person. Or at least she hasn’t been in the past. Since “The Cooler” last season, we’ve been in a slow arc of Bubblegum trying to be a better person and she’s been making some progress. But that arc is definitely going to pick up now that she’s been kicked out of office. She can focus on character development in her cabin.
Tomorrow comes “Varmints”. It’s a Marceline and Bubblegum episode. It’ll be fun. See ya then.