Welcome to this week’s installment of Geek Girl Authority Crush of the Week, wherein we shine a spotlight on strong women who inspire us. These ladies are a prime example of female empowerment and how crucial it is for youth to have said example to follow.

DISCLAIMER: The following article contains spoilers for the entirety of both Adventure Time and Adventure Time: Distant Lands.

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Princess Bubblegum

Fast Facts:

Princess Bonnibel Bubblegum (Hynden Walch) is the creator and ruler of the Candy Kingdom. After emerging from the Mother Gum hive in the wake of the Mushroom War, she eventually used science to make the simple and sweet candy people who live as her subjects. In the first few seasons of the series, she presents herself as a teenager, and she is prone to be kidnapped by Ice King (Tom Kenny). In these cases, she is often rescued by Finn Mertens (Jeremy Shada) and Jake the Dog (John DiMaggio). However, Bubblegum’s story unfolds as the series progresses, revealing she’s actually close to a thousand years old.

Princess Bubblegum (Hynden Walch) leans on Marceline the Vampire Queen (Olivia Olson) on the porch of Bonnibel's old cabin in Adventure Time, "Varmits."

There’s a lot of history in this image.

Her initial presentation allows the viewer to assume she plays the role of an archetypical “fairy tale princess” in need of protection from her knight. Later more details are unveiled, revealing Bubblegum to be a powerful, complicated character. Some of her subjects even grow wary of her power, forming a conspiracy-based organization based on the idea that she is a malicious ruler, as seen in episodes like “We Fixed a Car” and “Nemesis.” However, Bubblegum unapologetically maintains her rule over the Candy Kingdom for most of the series, thanks in part to her ally Peppermint Butler (Steve Little), a dark wizard whose raw power is matched only by his unquestioning loyalty to the Princess.

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Jelly Beans Have Power

The current incarnation of one of four primal “Elementals,” the Candy Elemental, Bubblegum has the ability to spontaneously create and propel jellybeans from the palms of her hands. However, while she does use this ability in battle every so often, she more often relies on her scientific achievements in order to stand on her own.

Princess Bubblegum (Hynden Walch) falls asleep in her lab and wakes up with pizza on her face. Peppermint Butler (Steve Little) looks on. From Adventure Time, "The Suitor."

Science so hard you wake up with pizza on your face.

Bubblegum’s devotion to science is one of her defining characteristics. She desires to improve the world for herself and those around her through technological advancement. However, not all science experiments succeed. In episodes like “Slumber Party Panic” and “You Made Me,” we see Bubblegum’s scientific failures. However, in episodes like “The Vault” and “The Suitor,” we see other experiments deliver on their potential. Finally, in episodes like “Bad Timing” and “Bad Timing,” we see how her inventions can prove dangerous when they fall into less responsible hands.

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As the series progresses, Bubblegum re-enters into a relationship with Marceline the Vampire Queen (Olivia Olson). The two women are especially well suited to one another thanks to their experiences, and they share a special understanding. At the conclusion of the Distant Lands special “Obsidian,” the couple recommitted to one another after sorting through some of their previously unresolved personal issues. 

The Real Deal:

Princess Bubblegum is the real deal. Like Marceline, certain aspects of Bubblegum’s power can look scary from outside perspectives, and this can create distance between herself and others. However, thanks to the fact that she is so long-lived, she is able to learn and evolve over the course of her lifetime.

Marceline (Olivia Olson) and Bubblegum (Hynden Walch) share domestic bliss in Adventure Time: Distant Lands. They are both wearing overalls and building Ikea style furniture. Marceline hands Bubblegum a mug labeled "boss."

In her latest appearance in “Obsidian,” Bubblegum identifies Marceline, Finn, a reformed Ice King, and Bronwyn (Jake’s granddaughter) as “her people.” This represents growth from her earlier appearances when she was only able to be close to her subjects in the Candy Kingdom (over whom she had a disproportionate degree of control). She has learned to be comfortable without concealing her true self from those around her.

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Why She Matters:

Why does Princess Bubblegum matter? She shows us that powerful women are often perceived as either a prize to be won or antagonists who must be vanquished. However, she also shows us that it is possible to find people who will accept you for who you are without trying to usurp you or adapt your purposes. And perhaps most important of all, she demonstrates that growth is possible, even after centuries of stagnancy.

So, be like Princess Bubblegum. Don’t let the labels others place upon you define who you are. But also, don’t be afraid to allow your true self to show through, even if you’re worried that might alienate those around you. And at the end of the day, Bubblegum shows us that we need to remember that our power is our own, and those who should remain close to us won’t try and take that away from us.

Adventure Time and Adventure Time: Distant Lands are currently available for streaming on HBO Max.

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