Cartoon Network hits like Adventure Time and Steven Universe might be the most progressive kids’ shows in the history of cartoons. Adventure Time features an on-going, complicated but charming romance between two of the female protagonists and Steven Universe is the kind of fantasy adventure where even the villains are treated with kindness and sympathy, and where one of the major characters is literally the physical embodiment of a committed gay relationship.
So it’s going to be pretty upsetting for fans of the show—not to mention the collected hivemind of fanart, “feels,” and animated GIFs known as Tumblr—to hear that some of the show’s more explicitly queer content is being censored from the show’s broadcasts in the UK.
As reported by Pink News—and shown in the Tumblr comparison video below—Cartoon Network UK has been editing moments of mild sexuality—as in suggestive looks and the occasional shimmy, not, like, full-on magical-alien-rock-women bacchanalia—out of its broadcast of the show.
The highlighted moment comes from “We Need To Talk,” an episode in which a giant space woman’s jealous lover manipulates her into having quasi-explicit magical sex in front of her boyfriend as part of a complicated emotional power play. (And if that’s not weird enough, the resulting fusion dance turns them into a sort of multi-eyed Flashdance monster.)
But it’s not the Jennifer Beals homages or bizarre relationship drama that upset the censors; rather, a couple of longing looks between the characters Rose Quartz and Pearl were apparently too saucy for British audiences to handle. (It’s also possible that the watchdogs felt that the “Fuck you” look Pearl shoots mid-dance at her romantic rival Greg was so clear as to be borderline obscene.)
Cartoon Network UK blamed the lack of a British TV rating system for the cuts, telling reporters, “The U.S. broadcast system requires that shows are marked with a rating–in this case PG (parental guidance necessary). In the UK, we have to ensure everything on air is suitable for kids of any age at any time. We do feel that the slightly edited version is more comfortable for local kids and their parents.” (Said locals are apparently completely okay with the unedited heterosexual kissing that closes out the clip.)