Mabel Pines Character Discussion
(11-26-2016, 01:33 PM)CoffeeGrunt Wrote: Is it really half of the viewers, though? There's no way to quantify that accurately, it could only be say, 20% of the fanbase that feels that way.

Also no writer can account for the subjective experiences of the individual.

It's a large enough percentage that, IMO, conveying the opposite intended message to it is failure to execute that message well.

We're two seasons in. We know and love these characters. Subjective experiences aren't an excuse for a reception this divided--it is not the audience's fault.
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(11-26-2016, 01:17 PM)Nefari Wrote: I don't believe Dipper's approach to romance is "more legitimate" than Mabel's, but its portrayal in the show is much more consistent, better paced, and better developed, so it's absolutely understandable that the audience would go a little easier on it than Mabel's various romantic plots. Regardless of how just this preference is, it makes sense in consideration of how the show, and the romantic within it, is laid out.

I wouldn't say Dipper's is "better developed" — that ties in with legitimacy, and Mabel's approach is just as legitimate because different people emphasize with different approaches — but I think you make a fair point with consistency and pacing.

In regards to the development part specifically, I think it'd be fair to say Dipper is more developed, but not necessarily better developed.

Excluding NMM, Mabel has five personal romantic endeavors that culminate in her learning to move on in SotBE:

Tourist Trapped
The Hand that Rocks the Mabel
The Deep End
Boyz Crazy
Sock Opera
Society of the Blind Eye


Excluding W1, Dipper has eight episodes where he does something motivated by Wendy:

The Inconveniencing
Double Dipper
The Time Traveler's Pig
Fight Fighters
Summerween
The Deep End
Boyz Crazy
Into the Bunker


Each of Mabel's five may follow very roughly a similar formula, but each are also very different, slowly going from a very unsuitable crush (a bunch of gnomes that look like a zombie) to an arguably very suitable (or at least realistic) one (Gabe, though imperfect, is clearly very charming to not just Mabel but also Candy and Grenda). In other words, she gets closer and closer to actually getting into a relationship each time — it's not just the same thing over and over again. Overall this portrayal fits well with her (to take CoffeeGrunt's phrasing) "scattershot" approach.

Dipper's approach is different, and thus requires a different portrayal. His relationship with Wendy develops slowly and continuously throughout before wrapping up in Into the Bunker. Although mathematically he has more romance episodes than Mabel, that doesn't inherently make his development superior — Dipper having more development in other episodes doesn't take away what Mabel has in hers.

The consistency and pacing can definitely be criticized though, and Alex Hirsch himself has acknowledged this shortcoming and stated that if he were to redo season 1, he'd have less Dipper/Wendy episodes.

(11-26-2016, 01:17 PM)Nefari Wrote: "Non-linear development" doesn't cover the inconsistency and failure to grow that Mabel encounters. If you're going to display non-linear development alongside a strong linear character, it must be of comparable strength. You can't put your protagonist in an antagonist position in one of the final episodes. If you absolutely must, then do it well--not in a way that will cause such a clear divide in your viewers. The intention is to develop Mabel, so make an episode that does so while actually making an impression on the audience. If people are coming away thinking that the character hasn't learned anything, then the writer is doing something wrong.

Mabel at the end of the series is different from Mabel at the beginning of the series, and that right there is indicative that she has indeed undergone growth somewhere in between. I'm not sure what the "inconsistency" you're referring to is, but I think "failure to grow" is rather lopsided given how much Mabel has changed by the end of W3 (or, if you think she hasn't, we can definitely discuss that further).

What makes Mabel the antagonist in your view, and how should they instead have approached it? To suggest Mabel is the antagonist means she is an obstacle for the protagonist, which I'm assuming is Dipper; it neglects the fact that she has her own priorities and ambitions, in favor of focusing solely on Dipper's goal of getting her out of the bubble. I guess this is justifiable if you subscribe to the view that Dipper is the main protagonist of the series, but even Dipper himself doesn't treat Mabel as an antagonist; rather, he treats the bubble itself as the antagonist, and Mabel as a sister in need of help.

He understands that Bill's trap is deceptive, and he understands that Mabel is going through emotional turmoil, so he overlooks the way she acts and talks to her in a way only such a close brother can to give her the emotional strength necessary to break out of the bubble.

(11-26-2016, 01:17 PM)Nefari Wrote: A big theme is relationships vs personal ambition, right? More specifically, family vs mystery--Mabel's priorities vs Dipper's priorities. The show generally favors family. That's fine. But it's a mistake to reward Mabel herself for her values, and to show her beliefs being so consistently right over Dipper's. Trying to make a thematic point by regularly rewarding a character instead of their values will in part deny them the opportunity for proper development.

Where do you believe Mabel was rewarded in instances where instead it should have been her values being rewarded?

Mabel herself has personal ambitions too, and I find that she gives up things for Dipper just as much as he does for her.

(11-26-2016, 01:17 PM)Nefari Wrote: In what way is pissing off and failing to communicate to half of your audience not inherently bad?
It's an end of season character development episode. No one should ever come away from a positive development episode thinking worse of the character than they did going in. If such a large portion of the audience walks away with this interpretation--the opposite of what the writer intended--then clearly, someone is doing something wrong. And it's not the audience.
The episode not only failed to impress, but actively backfired for a big portion of the audience. Something is objectively wrong here. That doesn't happen with good writing.

Inherent implies that it is something essentially characteristic of it. If many people didn't connect, then of course the episode isn't perfect, but that doesn't mean it's inherently bad — it just means some people liked it, and others didn't. You can say it had a mixed reception, but "inherently bad" discounts the redeeming qualities brought up by myself and others. Subjectively, some people liked it, others didn't; objectively, it has faults, but these aren't so black and white that one can categorize the episode as either inherently good or inherently bad.

(I address your other point further down)

(11-26-2016, 02:02 PM)Baron Claus Wrote: For me the issue of the relationships has been resolved and is definitely not the issue. I'm more interested in the argument (which Nefa beat me to) that Mabel is the heart of the show, is therefore usually in the right and is rewarded for it. Firstly this is a trait for a supporting character, not a protagonist who needs to grow and develop with the audience, second perhaps the real reason so many reject Mabel is because she forces the shows morales upon the viewer, rather than explore them because that's Dippers job. And I still say it's a shame they decided to go for subtleties with Mabel when ultimately I found her growth very unique and interesting.

What makes you say that Mabel is "usually" in the right? In regards to W2 specifically, I think you can say that she is right in the sense that family takes precedence over personal ambition, but you could also say that Dipper is in the right in the sense that you have to accept the realities of growing up, and can't just lock yourself away in a fantasy world. Both are central themes to the series, and both Dipper and Mabel learn something and make changes to the way they approach things.

In regards to the subtleties, I think that could be described either way. Yes, subtleties mean not everybody will get them (thus why they're subtle), but at the same time, a series without subtleties isn't a very interesting series.

(11-26-2016, 02:02 PM)Baron Claus Wrote: However I also think there's factors like how we saw the episodes over a long stretch of time and the fact they had little time to work with them so I'm re-watching the series and re-evaluating my opinion before I continue here. I still think Sock Opera to be the episode to be much at fault for why we're in this situation so I'm particularly interested in seeing this with W2.
(11-26-2016, 02:54 PM)CoffeeGrunt Wrote: Yeah that's another point. I blitzed the series in a week or so, whereas someone who watched it from the beginning over the course of years would have a different view of it.

Hmm, that's interesting! I personally had not heard of Gravity Falls until coming across Dipper's Guide to the Unexplained on YouTube (around just after W3 aired), after which I binged the series six times (currently on my seventh).

(11-26-2016, 03:37 PM)Nefari Wrote:
(11-26-2016, 01:33 PM)CoffeeGrunt Wrote: Is it really half of the viewers, though? There's no way to quantify that accurately, it could only be say, 20% of the fanbase that feels that way.

Also no writer can account for the subjective experiences of the individual.

It's a large enough percentage that, IMO, conveying the opposite intended message to it is failure to execute that message well.

We're two seasons in. We know and love these characters. Subjective experiences aren't an excuse for a reception this divided--it is not the audience's fault.

Do you have a statistical fact for that percentage or is it more of a vibe exclusive to this forum?

IMDb gives W2 a weighted average of 9.2, an arithmetic mean of 9.1, a median score of 10, and mostly consistent ratings across all gender and age demographics. W2 is rated lower than D&MvTF/W1/W3 but higher than most of the other episodes; although IMDb is just a small and unscientific sample of the fanbase, the voting pool is relatively controlled across all episode ratings. Similarly, The AV Club's Community Grade gives W2 an "A-". Again, small and technically unscientific, but the evidence is strongly corroborated, so there is statistical evidence to suggest that W2 might not be as widely controversial as you allege.

I don't mean to be dismissive of your arguments, and I also don't suggest that you are at fault in any way, but I am saying that the episode's reception isn't as clear cut as you (or even myself, I must add) suggest. In a literary context, both the writer and the audience have a part in communication; the series isn't Hirsch shoving a bunch of things into us, but rather an experience meant to be interactive. It tries to challenge audiences as a work of art, rather than coddle us as a piece of entertainment. This legitimizes most interpretations and provides much room for debate, which ultimately advances the overall goal of provoking thought (and my thoughts have certainly been provoked very much by this discussion).
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Is it just me or do a lot of these arguments in this thread sound like ones that are used when discussing Mabel nowadays?
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(12-04-2016, 01:26 PM)Baron Claus Wrote: Is it just me or do a lot of these arguments in this thread sound like ones that are used when discussing Mabel nowadays?

Not fully sure if this is the argument you're making, but are you referring to people being overzealous in their analysis of Dipper & Mabel's morality?

If so, I definitely see your point, but in my opinion there's nothing wrong with dissecting the subtleties of the series, so long as you use evidence to back up your claims; keep your mind open to alternative arguments being brought up by others; and try to understand the complexity and nuances involved instead of simply engaging in surface-level criticism.
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I don’t know if I should even bother trying to apologize for the lateness of this response at this point. Sorry tho

(11-26-2016, 08:39 PM)ReptilePatrol Wrote: Each of Mabel's five may follow very roughly a similar formula, but each are also very different, slowly going from a very unsuitable crush (a bunch of gnomes that look like a zombie) to an arguably very suitable (or at least realistic) one (Gabe, though imperfect, is clearly very charming to not just Mabel but also Candy and Grenda). In other words, she gets closer and closer to actually getting into a relationship each time — it's not just the same thing over and over again. Overall this portrayal fits well with her (to take CoffeeGrunt's phrasing) "scattershot" approach.

I don’t agree that her crushes became more suitable. In fact, Norman--pardoning the bit about him actually being gnomes, and judging just based on what we and Mabel initially knew about him--had a mutual attraction to Mabel. They went on dates, they had conversations, and he appeared to be a completely normal teenager. Meanwhile, her other crushes were all unrealistic: Mermando lived in a pool (and later, the ocean), Sev’ral Times was five separate people, and Gabe was a clearly uninterested slimeball. I would venture to say that the pilot, where Mabel actually went on dates and had conversations with her romantic interest, was the farthest she ever got in a real relationship.

(11-26-2016, 08:39 PM)ReptilePatrol Wrote: Although mathematically he has more romance episodes than Mabel, that doesn't inherently make his development superior — Dipper having more development in other episodes doesn't take away what Mabel has in hers.

No, but having more development in one character does raise the other characters to higher standards. If they are equal protagonists, they deserve to change equally, and just as markedly as each other.

(11-26-2016, 01:17 PM)Nefari Wrote: Mabel at the end of the series is different from Mabel at the beginning of the series, and that right there is indicative that she has indeed undergone growth somewhere in between. I'm not sure what the "inconsistency" you're referring to is, but I think "failure to grow" is rather lopsided given how much Mabel has changed by the end of W3 (or, if you think she hasn't, we can definitely discuss that further).

But has she changed as much as any of the other characters? Dipper has gone from self-focused and ambition-oriented to more conscious and appreciative of his family, Stan went from dishonest and closed off to generous and open with those he trusted, Ford went from arrogant and manipulative to more understanding and open-minded, Mabel went from… boy-crazy and immature to boy-crazy and slightly less immature?

(11-26-2016, 08:39 PM)ReptilePatrol Wrote: What makes Mabel the antagonist in your view, and how should they instead have approached it? To suggest Mabel is the antagonist means she is an obstacle for the protagonist, which I'm assuming is Dipper; it neglects the fact that she has her own priorities and ambitions, in favor of focusing solely on Dipper's goal of getting her out of the bubble. I guess this is justifiable if you subscribe to the view that Dipper is the main protagonist of the series, but even Dipper himself doesn't treat Mabel as an antagonist; rather, he treats the bubble itself as the antagonist, and Mabel as a sister in need of help.

Oh no, I don’t think Dipper is any more important to the series than Mabel. Rather, for the majority of the episode, Mabel is the one blocking their way to the goal (i.e. getting out of the bubble and defeating Bill). Sure, the bubble itself and even Bill come into play as antagonists, but they’re secondary to Mabel. Most of Part 2 is spent fighting to convince Mabel to listen to Dipper, fighting to show Mabel how bad things have been left out there, fighting to convince Mabel it’s better to resist than to give in to this fantasy--fighting Mabel. Once they ‘defeat’ her, they move onto other challenges, but until then, Mabel and Mabel’s stubbornness is the obstacle they need to overcome.
I don’t think calling her an antagonist in this episode neglects her personal goals or ambitions at all. In fact, it recognizes that she is actively struggling to cope with and fight for her own needs. In this case, it’s wanting to cling to childhood and, in a way, protect the people she cares about, or whatever you’d like to conclude about her own ambitions that episode. An antagonist needs to have their own goals as strongly as the protagonist, and putting Mabel in this role actually gives more demand for emphasis on her own wants than, say, a supporting or co-protag role might demand. Whereas a normal co-protag episode might give a generous amount of focus to one character’s motivations and allow the other to tag along without really getting into their motivation, giving an antagonist role to a main character should directly and strongly address the ambitions of both characters.
So, can it be a good thing? Absolutely. But is it a good tool to use in the second to last episode? No, at least not in this case. I don’t think it was a good idea to put the protagonist in an antagonist position so close to the end of the series. GF has proved that it can make us doubt our favorite characters successfully and compellingly, but this episode did not have that effect on me and many other viewers.

(11-26-2016, 08:39 PM)ReptilePatrol Wrote: Where do you believe Mabel was rewarded in instances where instead it should have been her values being rewarded?

So, the thing with this is that it’s really difficult to reward a value instead of a character, and for a lot of the examples I had troubles with, rewarding the values simply isn’t an option due to the overall setup. Family is prioritized and held up as being good before personal ambition, and Mabel’s goals are much more family- and relationship-driven than Dipper’s. So, often her methods are rewarded because her values are “correct”, even if her actual actions are selfish or otherwise improvable.
I think this is most notable in season 2, when the relationship/ambition conflict becomes more pronounced.
IMO “Sock Opera” is one of the worst instances of Mabel’s selfishness, and while she does apologize, I don’t think that makes up for taking the journal from Dipper and nearly giving it to a demon she knew had stolen her brother’s body--not just considering handing it over, but waiting until the very last minute and the “Who would sacrifice everything they'd worked for just for their dumb sibling?” line to change her mind. And while she was not directly rewarded for any of this, I think it was a huge mistake to let it go that far, and ended up portraying her as much worse than she was ever intended to be--when the family-driven character almost gave up her family for a stupid crush. So in this case, the issue would not be a reward/lack of punishment, but simply the fact that it reached the extent that it did.

Inconsistency would be, for example, “The Love God” after “Society of the Blind Eye”. Conjuring up images of Mabel’s past crushes in TLG is a fine test for after she’d learned to accept them in SotBE, and her motivation--trying to make others happy--checks out, but I don’t think it’s wise to put an episode devoted to Mabel screwing up romantically so shortly after a ‘recovery’ episode like that… and then again have her go through another boy craze in “Northwest Mansion Mystery” immediately afterwards.
Throughout the series we see Mabel fall in love, realize it’s not going to work, and “get over it”, again and again and again. Even after a seemingly conclusive resolution to her romance arc/s in SotBE, the cycle continues. It’s incredibly frustrating to watch her continue to make the same mistakes.
By contrast, Dipper’s relationship with Wendy goes slowly through each stage of having and getting over a childhood crush, but without nearly as much unnecessary repetition.

(11-26-2016, 08:39 PM)ReptilePatrol Wrote: In regards to the subtleties, I think that could be described either way. Yes, subtleties mean not everybody will get them (thus why they're subtle), but at the same time, a series without subtleties isn't a very interesting series.

You can have a good series with plenty of subtleties without having a main character rely entirely on them for development.
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(01-01-2017, 11:26 PM)Nefari Wrote: I don’t know if I should even bother trying to apologize for the lateness of this response at this point. Sorry tho

That's fine; unless this discussion ends in the next couple of posts, I might be taking a hiatus at some point in the future as well.

(01-01-2017, 11:26 PM)Nefari Wrote: I don’t agree that her crushes became more suitable. In fact, Norman--pardoning the bit about him actually being gnomes, and judging just based on what we and Mabel initially knew about him--had a mutual attraction to Mabel. They went on dates, they had conversations, and he appeared to be a completely normal teenager. Meanwhile, her other crushes were all unrealistic: Mermando lived in a pool (and later, the ocean), Sev’ral Times was five separate people, and Gabe was a clearly uninterested slimeball. I would venture to say that the pilot, where Mabel actually went on dates and had conversations with her romantic interest, was the farthest she ever got in a real relationship.

With Norman, I don't think it's adequate to judge only based on what we and Mabel initially knew, because the reveal is actually quite important, as it's intended to highlight her initial obliviousness. If it weren't for the series' comedic presentation of the reveal, the idea of a large group of men luring, grooming, and kidnapping a preteen girl for sexual purposes would be very disturbing. It's this that made me regard Norman as the most unsuitable, because regardless of how good your banter or attraction is, a relationship that's built on deceit, trickery, and predatory ulterior motives isn't a real relationship.

I also considered Mabel's fling with Gideon, because despite her lack of attraction, it was a romantic endeavor. It's not as bad as Norman imo because it could have actually realistically worked if Mabel did have a crush on Gideon as well, but she didn't, and showed this clearly. Therefore most of their relationship wasn't consensual, and it's for this reason that I considered it the second most unsuitable.

Mermando represents progress in the sense that it's Mabel's first continuously consensual romantic partner. However, he remains unsuitable given the circumstances: he's aquatic, and is later married to someone else.

With the boy clones, the consent continues, but five different guys isn't realistic. Imo still a step up from Mermando though, because it could have potentially worked if Mabel made better choices, like just choosing one of them. It's her choices, and not the circumstances, that mess up this one.

Finally, with Gabe, Mabel does not have the problems present in her earlier pursuits. He's a singular human being, which means it could realistically work; and although I'd agree he's a bit of a slimeball, I wouldn't say he's "uninterested," because Gabe does return Mabel's flirtation, attend her opera, and invite her for biscotti. And even though he's not a very pleasant person in my opinion, from Mabel/Candy/Grenda's perspective he's perfectly charming and attractive, which is all that matters in this case. Mabel actually works hard on her sock opera (big improvement from her less coordinated efforts in the montage in Tourist Trapped) and if she had managed to pull it off, she would have likely joined Gabe for biscotti after a successful show, and finally entered into a realistic and consensual relationship. The only thing that stopped her this time was her personal choice to sacrifice it all for her brother, even though she knew this was the closest she had gotten yet to an actual realistic and consensual relationship.

(11-26-2016, 01:17 PM)Nefari Wrote: But has she changed as much as any of the other characters? Dipper has gone from self-focused and ambition-oriented to more conscious and appreciative of his family, Stan went from dishonest and closed off to generous and open with those he trusted, Ford went from arrogant and manipulative to more understanding and open-minded, Mabel went from… boy-crazy and immature to boy-crazy and slightly less immature?

Mabel went from a boy crazy, present-focused, and carefree girl into someone able to think long-term, cognizant of the future, and ready to confront it. She goes from someone whose main concern is her crush of the week/epic summer romance, to someone who prioritizes her friends and family. And like Dipper, she also goes from self-focused and ambition-oriented to more conscious and appreciative of family, though in different ways and with different ambitions.

Dipper and Mabel are opposites in terms of their views on the future: Dipper is impatient to grow up and wants to become more mature and developed faster, while Mabel realizes how life, especially childhood, is precious and is determined to enjoy every second while she can. And in the end they find common ground on this issue and move forward together.

(01-01-2017, 11:26 PM)Nefari Wrote: Oh no, I don’t think Dipper is any more important to the series than Mabel. Rather, for the majority of the episode, Mabel is the one blocking their way to the goal (i.e. getting out of the bubble and defeating Bill).
Sure, the bubble itself and even Bill come into play as antagonists, but they’re secondary to Mabel. Most of Part 2 is spent fighting to convince Mabel to listen to Dipper, fighting to show Mabel how bad things have been left out there, fighting to convince Mabel it’s better to resist than to give in to this fantasy--fighting Mabel. Once they ‘defeat’ her, they move onto other challenges, but until then, Mabel and Mabel’s stubbornness is the obstacle they need to overcome.

But the goal of getting out of the bubble and defeating Bill is only Dipper's/Wendy's/Soos' goal — and only Dipper's goal after Wendy and Soos are seduced by the bubble's offerings. And even Dipper himself doubts his conviction in the scene by the stream.

Throughout most of the episode, Mabel's goal is clearly to stay, and convince the gang that it's a superior alternative than facing reality. You could say that she's blocking Dipper's way to the goal, but then Dipper is also blocking Mabel's way to her goal.

(01-01-2017, 11:26 PM)Nefari Wrote: I don’t think calling her an antagonist in this episode neglects her personal goals or ambitions at all. In fact, it recognizes that she is actively struggling to cope with and fight for her own needs. In this case, it’s wanting to cling to childhood and, in a way, protect the people she cares about, or whatever you’d like to conclude about her own ambitions that episode.
An antagonist needs to have their own goals as strongly as the protagonist, and putting Mabel in this role actually gives more demand for emphasis on her own wants than, say, a supporting or co-protag role might demand. Whereas a normal co-protag episode might give a generous amount of focus to one character’s motivations and allow the other to tag along without really getting into their motivation, giving an antagonist role to a main character should directly and strongly address the ambitions of both characters.

Wouldn't a co-protag setup actually have helped flesh out both of their motivations more? Allowing one to tag along to the other sounds more like a lead/supporting setup, not a co-protag setup.

Labeling Mabel as the antagonist here implies that she's an obstacle for the protagonist, which, while drawing attention to her goals, presents them as unfavorable or unmerited. It suggests that because she's a barrier to Dipper, that Dipper's goal is more important than hers. Although in the end it's shown that Dipper's is indeed the better choice, that doesn't mean we can be dismissive of Mabel's internal dilemma in the episode, because it's through this struggle that she learns and develops as a character.

Mabel has some very legitimate reasons to want to stay in the bubble, and I don't think we can simply dismiss it as "stubbornness" or "whatever," especially if some of her most significant development in the series happens in this episode. She's not yet ready to say goodbye to her childhood (metaphorically represented by the town of Gravity Falls), so she refuses to confront her teenage years (metaphorically represented by the apocalypse), by indulging in her childhood fantasies instead (metaphorically represented by Mabelland). Even emotionally, she hides her inner turmoil and puts on neutral expressions throughout. She's afraid of dealing with gigantic problems she cannot handle alone, so she tries to ignore them. This is an immensely relatable situation: we all regularly indulge in easier alternatives like fantasy (albeit not as literally as in the series) whenever we'd rather avoid uncomfortable truths or harsh realities, such as denial over the death of a loved one (though I'm guessing it wasn't as relatable for you?).

It's the complete opposite to Dipper's logical, systemic approach in W1, where he tries, alone, to quickly get through the apocalypse by brute force — a strategy that aligns with his typically straightforward thinking, and a strategy that fails. The whole reason he rescues Mabel in the first place is because Mabel's penchant to view things irrationally, emotionally, and creatively is what often gets the two through sticky situations where Dipper's straightforward plans fail, whether this be in Tourist Trapped, Double Dipper, Irrational Treasure (!), Gideon Rises, Scary-Oke or Not What He Seems (!). That is not to say Mabel's way of things is always right, because W2 is the biggest example where her way of things is actually wrong: both Dipper in W1 and Mabel in W2 use separate, flawed approaches to dealing with the apocalypse, which ultimately is overcome only when they join forces.

Dipper realizes his approach failed in W1 when it explicitly just fails, and it's his conversation with Wendy that allows him to grow and realize the value Mabel adds to him. Mabel, similarly, has to learn why her method won't work; for her to realize out of nowhere would mean less development for her. Initially she legitimately believes the bubble to be a superior alternative and provides sound reasoning for it, and her Sartrean way of thinking is validated when Soos, Wendy, and Dipper all also fall for the bubble's temptations.

However, it's ultimately critiqued as a band-aid solution that covers up unpleasantries with easy, more attractive alternatives: a situation reflected not just in the bubble, but also with Mabel's emotional stoicism, and the very nature of fantasy itself. Dipper is first to realize this when fake Wendy's true form is uncovered, and having learned the value of his relationship with Mabel in W1, quickly moves on to helping Mabel through this.

Mabel's personal ambition is to live life to its fullest, or achieve perfection — she wants to make her childhood the best that it can be, and as a result she's always cheery, always has a different goofy sweater, constantly scrapbooks, etc. Mabelland ("perfection, but better!") epitomizes these efforts, and is ultimately rejected as being a falsification of life, which is the opposite intent. Mabel finds herself in an impossible situation where she romanticizes everything like the eternal optimist she is, but can't cope when something terrible comes along that she simply can't romanticize.

W2 helps her realize that growing up isn't a fantasy, as she wants to believe, nor is it horrible and tragic (and in need of being replaced by a fantasy), as she fears deep down. And she realizes that in order to tackle this very real and dynamic challenge full of ups and downs, she'll need to be there for her family. She had always valued family — her offer to let Dipper & co. stay with her in the bubble is most well-intentioned — but only here does she fully learn that her family comes before her personal ambitions, which is why she ultimately agrees to leave and offers to let Dipper have his apprenticeship. One of Gravity Falls' key themes is growing up, and this where it climaxes for Mabel.

Both Dipper and Mabel are misguided initially, but both realize the key to overcoming this challenge is by working together — poignantly, in a setting where they're working together. The series criticizes Dipper's method of blindly plowing ahead, as well as Mabel's method of looking back and not going ahead at all; instead, they work together, and what better way to do this than by rallying everybody together to build the Shackleton and fight back?

(01-01-2017, 11:26 PM)Nefari Wrote: So, can it be a good thing? Absolutely. But is it a good tool to use in the second to last episode? No, at least not in this case. I don’t think it was a good idea to put the protagonist in an antagonist position so close to the end of the series. GF has proved that it can make us doubt our favorite characters successfully and compellingly, but this episode did not have that effect on me and many other viewers. 

Again, not to be dismissive of your arguments, but all the available evidence I can find shows that generally, the episode was one of the second season's (and one of the series') best received episodes. If the way the episode was executed didn't make you connect with Mabel's emotional dilemma, then that's unfortunate I guess, but if that's the case, then I hope you can separate your criticisms for what they were trying to say, versus how they said it. And if you have any specifics on what they could have done better, that'd be most welcomed.

(01-01-2017, 11:26 PM)Nefari Wrote: So, the thing with this is that it’s really difficult to reward a value instead of a character, and for a lot of the examples I had troubles with, rewarding the values simply isn’t an option due to the overall setup. Family is prioritized and held up as being good before personal ambition, and Mabel’s goals are much more family- and relationship-driven than Dipper’s. So, often her methods are rewarded because her values are “correct”, even if her actual actions are selfish or otherwise improvable.
I think this is most notable in season 2, when the relationship/ambition conflict becomes more pronounced.

I don't think relationships and ambition are necessarily mutually exclusive. Mabel's main goal — or ambition — is to have an epic summer romance, and this takes place in the form of various attempts at romantic relationships. Family is prioritized and held up as being good before personal ambition, which is why Mabel sacrifices her chances with Gabe to help Dipper in Sock Opera. Do you have a more clear example, perhaps?

(01-01-2017, 11:26 PM)Nefari Wrote: IMO “Sock Opera” is one of the worst instances of Mabel’s selfishness, and while she does apologize, I don’t think that makes up for taking the journal from Dipper and nearly giving it to a demon she knew had stolen her brother’s body--not just considering handing it over, but waiting until the very last minute and the “Who would sacrifice everything they'd worked for just for their dumb sibling?” line to change her mind. And while she was not directly rewarded for any of this, I think it was a huge mistake to let it go that far, and ended up portraying her as much worse than she was ever intended to be--when the family-driven character almost gave up her family for a stupid crush. So in this case, the issue would not be a reward/lack of punishment, but simply the fact that it reached the extent that it did.

I interpreted her hesitation as a way to show how much she had personally invested in the situation. Gabe is the closest she ever gets to a real and consensual relationship, and she sunk an enormous amount of effort into her opera. Hesitation shows that this is a big sacrifice for her to make, and that she has her own goals and isn't just there to support Dipper as some sidekick.

Likewise, every time Dipper reluctantly gives up something for Mabel, he hesitates as well. If they didn't hesitate, that would dismiss their personal investment in whatever they're sacrificing, and therefore rendering it not a sacrifice at all, but more of an insignificant favor.

I think the important thing here is that she realizes she's being selfish, and then learns to make the right decision. And you can't have the latter without the former.

(01-01-2017, 11:26 PM)Nefari Wrote: Inconsistency would be, for example, “The Love God” after “Society of the Blind Eye”. Conjuring up images of Mabel’s past crushes in TLG is a fine test for after she’d learned to accept them in SotBE, and her motivation--trying to make others happy--checks out, but I don’t think it’s wise to put an episode devoted to Mabel screwing up romantically so shortly after a ‘recovery’ episode like that… and then again have her go through another boy craze in “Northwest Mansion Mystery” immediately afterwards.
Throughout the series we see Mabel fall in love, realize it’s not going to work, and “get over it”, again and again and again. Even after a seemingly conclusive resolution to her romance arc/s in SotBE, the cycle continues. It’s incredibly frustrating to watch her continue to make the same mistakes.
By contrast, Dipper’s relationship with Wendy goes slowly through each stage of having and getting over a childhood crush, but without nearly as much unnecessary repetition.

I think the important thing to note with SotBE is that it is not advocating for abstinence, nor is it trying to suppress Mabel's sexuality: it's about learning from past mistakes, which means Mabel is still perfectly allowed to have romantic pursuits and harbor feelings for people she's "over."

TLG is an example of the latter, and even Dipper experiences that situation in Roadside Attraction, even after the official resolution of his crush on Wendy in Into the Bunker. I can see your point with NMM, but that's distinctly different because it's Grenda who pressures her into flirting with Marius — unlike with her other crushes, Mabel does not initiate her pursuit of Marius. In fact, the whole subplot focuses on conflict between Mabel, Candy and Grenda, not Mabel's flirting technique; she's just there to have some fun with her girl friends at a party, and afterwards she has no qualms about Marius dating Grenda.

It's not a continuation of the cycle if Mabel no longer initiates any more personal romantic pursuits after SotBE. She hasn't been sterilized and remains susceptible to her feelings, and she's not afraid to join in on some fun with her girl friends, but she is no longer the carefree girl in Tourist Trapped who flirted with every guy she met in order to fulfill her fantasy of an epic summer romance.


(Edited to remove a misstatement about the Shacktron)
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