Network: Disney Channel
Genre: Kids' Animation
TV Rating: TV-Y
Other Choices: The Tick, The Legend of Korra, Young Justice
Common Sense Says: Clever sibling story has some spooky stuff for kids.
Common Sense Rates It:
Parents need to know
Parents need to know that Gravity Falls is a cleverly written cartoon series with humor that will be better appreciated by older kids and tweens than by young kids because of its fast pace and content that often assumes a certain amount of life experience from viewers. The generally spooky feel of many scenes and the characters' run-ins with monsters and supernatural beings of various forms may be too much for kids who are sensitive to this kind of scare. Those who do tune in will enjoy watching the complicated and imperfect sibling dynamics between the main characters, which always ends in an affirmation of their affection for each other.
- Families can talk about the supernatural questions that Gravity Falls raises. Do you believe in ghosts, monsters, and the other types of creatures that Dipper and Mabel encounter? Are there any "mysteries" in your family or town that you'd like to solve?
- What is this show's message about family relationships? Do you think it set out to make a statement about this, or did it just happen? Do the nature of any of the relationships surprise you?
- Is stereotyping a concern in this cartoon? Where do you draw the line between characterizations and stereotypes? Are stereotypes always harmful?
What's the story?
GRAVITY FALLS follows the misadventures of twins Dipper (voiced by Jason Ritter) and Mabel Pines (Kristen Schaal) in the rustic, mysterious forest of Gravity Falls, Oregon, where they're sent for the summer to live with their curmudgeonly relative, Grunkle Stan (Alex Hirsch). When they're not poking around in Stan's knick-knack shop, The Mystery Shack, they head for the woods to explore their new surroundings. When Dipper discovers an old journal that holds cryptic keys to the mysteries of the town and its motley collection of residents, he and his sister set out to discover what's behind the strange happenings.
Is it any good?
Just when you think cookie-cutter cartoon series have become the norm, out of nowhere comes Gravity Falls, a slightly irreverent comedy about two fish-out-of-water visitors to an off-the-beaten-path burg that's brimming with small-town secrets and unusual characters. Although Dipper and Mabel take very different views of the nature of their adventures and often have differing opinions about how to proceed, when push comes to shove, their sibling bond makes them a formidable team in the face of whatever this bizarre town throws their way.As far as the show's content goes, there's not much to worry about, but in many ways, this series is better suited for slightly older audience members who will pick up on the subtleties of the clever Simpsons-esque writing and characterizations that will go unnoticed by youngsters. What's more, there are some tense moments during monster encounters and other mysteries that may frighten kids who are sensitive to that kind of scare.
The Good Stuff
Messages: The stories appeal to a kid's sense of adventure and imagination and put a fun spin on the idea of the supernatural. The twins share a sweet relationship despite their personality differences and always have each other's back when danger befalls them.
Educational Value: The show intends to entertain rather than to educate.
Role Models: Stan's not the ideal role model, and he's known to put his love of money before the kids' needs (like when he teaches them how to counterfeit it). But when it comes down to it, he does care about them and tries his best to show it in his own obscure way. Mabel and Dipper don't always see eye to eye, but they set aside their differences to work toward common goals.
What to watch out for
Violence & scariness: Close encounters with supernatural creatures (zombies, lake monsters, etc.) and brushes with other mysteries of the forest make for some tense moments. There's no violence, but the kids' adventures lead to some mishaps like falls and crashes.
Sexy stuff: Mabel is forever on the lookout for love, often trying to use flirtatious smiles to turn the head of the guys she meets. An overweight character shows the top of his rear end when his pants ride a little low.
Language: "Butt" is as strong as it gets.
Consumerism: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs & smoking: Not an issue