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How Gravity Falls Creator Alex Hirsch Really Sees Mabel And Dipper's Relationship

"Gravity Falls" is an animated Disney series that holds the rare honor of being entirely driven by a singular storyline. To put it another way, every episode — even if it focuses on a self-contained issue — drives the series closer to the ultimate goal. When discussing shows of a similar ilk, Nickelodeon's "Avatar: The Last Airbender" is often brought to mind, but more modern members of this semi exclusive club are Disney's "The Owl House" and Netflix's "Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts." 

When shows do this, there are a number of hurdles that they have to contend with that the more episodic productions out there can completely forego, such as nuanced character development. For "Gravity Falls," that means that the two leads, Dipper and Mabel Pine — who are twins stuck for the summer in a cryptid-laden city far from the comforts of normal society — have to emotionally mature in something akin to real time. In this way, creator Alex Hirsch had a precise idea as to how they would interact with each other, and how that dynamic would inform the story. His thoughts on the subject are surprisingly sweet for a show that so heavily deals with darker and more adult material than most of its animated peers.

Mabel anchors Dipper to his childhood

In a 2014 interview with Vox, Alex Hirsch spoke about his intentions behind Mabel and Dipper's sibling dynamic. Of Dipper, he said, "Dipper is a character who wants to grow up too fast. He takes himself too seriously, and he desperately craves respect from everyone around him, particularly from anyone older than him, because he just doesn't want to be a kid."

This is in sharp contrast to his sister. "Mabel is someone who's very comfortable being a kid," Hirsch explained. "She wants to be goofy and silly and have fun all the time. Mabel is a lot smarter than anyone gives her credit for, and she knows in her core that Dipper's quest for maturity is, in itself, immature [...] There's a constant tension of Dipper trying to grow up too fast and Mabel trying to subconsciously keep him in that kid space where he should be."

It's pretty easy to see this back and forth play out in the series. Consider every time that Dipper attempts to build on his one-sided romance with Wendy, who's several years older than him. Mabel is always there to knock him back down with the reality that he's a literal child. It's also interesting to note that Season 2 Episode "Dipper and Mabel vs. the Future" sets the twins on a path to potentially mirror that of their Grunkles (it's short for "great uncle," just go with it), a sibling relationship which infamously ended in estrangement, but shows how that tension can be resolved instead of compounded. While Mabel and Dipper sometimes border on unhealthy levels of sibling codependency, it's important to remember that they're children and they're still learning.