When Adventure Time was in its earliest stages, creator Pendleton Ward decided on a show about a boy, his dog, a princess, and an evil wizard because it was so generic a network would probably pick it up. At the start, the only real indicator of just how weird the show would get was Lumpy Space Princess, the purple Valley Girl blob from another dimension. With an overwhelmingly enthusiastic personality, no sense of tact, and a hilarious voice provided by Ward, LSP quickly became a fan favorite, and we essentially learn her origin in “The Prince That Wanted Everything,” although LSP takes some artistic liberties in the telling.
The best thing about the “Fionna & Cake” episodes is that they give the writers the opportunity to put the cast in charge of the narrative, making each chapter a character study with a gender-swapped ensemble. LSP’s “Fionna & Cake Adventure” details Lumpy Space Prince’s desperate attempts to find true freedom and a companion to share it with, a journey that takes him from spoiled rich boy to hip, liberated peasant when he meets Fionna and Cake.
Lumpy Space Prince comes from a wealthy background (he eats sandwiches dipped in gold), but his experience at home is one that nearly all teenagers go through. He doesn’t want to become a monster like his parents, so he flees to a new place where he can be the person he wants to be. A dimensional portal is LSP’s car, giving him the freedom to explore the world beyond the confines of Lumpy Space, and he finds the perfect role model in a butt-kicking blonde girl.
When LSP first arrives in Ooo, he acts like royalty because it’s safer than shedding his old persona in a scary new environment. Ordering people around and wearing freaky clothes is what’s comfortable for LSP, but he needs to break out of his comfort zone to find real happiness. That’s where Fionna and Cake come into play. They free LSP’s slaves and break the prince’s shackles to his old life, giving him an example of the lifestyle he’s seeking.
Fionna doesn’t care about appearances, and that absence of superficiality captivates Lumpy Space Prince. Seeing Fionna and Cake’s rustic living situation and casual eating habits (no baby tables!) takes LSP further down the path to enlightenment, but despite his song about liberation after discovering “peasant” domesticity, LSP still has further to go before he’s actually free.
When his parents arrive to take him back home, LSP realizes that the only way to overcome parental disapproval is by not caring, and he’s able to fend off the monsters of “adult mediocrity and fatuousness” by simply telling his parents, “I don’t care.” There’s no way to achieve full self-realization if he’s trying to please someone else, and once his parents are made aware that they’re opinions won’t influence LSP’s behavior, they stop trying to change him.
The smooth, deep, oh-so-British voice of Peter Serafinowicz (Shaun Of The Dead, The Peter Serafinowicz Show) is an inspired choice for Lumpy Space Prince, and the fact that that’s the voice LSP assigns to her male copy says a lot about how she sees (and hears) herself. LSP is abrasive and hilarious with exaggerated attitude, but she thinks of herself as sophisticated royalty with very serious problems.
LSP has a heavily romanticized self-image, which is also reflected in the shojo anime influence in the episode’s visuals. Natasha Allegri played around with the idea of giving Lumpy Space Prince an anime heartthrob face in her Fionna & Cake comic book, and it heightens the character’s emotions whenever that glistening, gorgeous mug appears. (One of my favorite moments is when Lumpy Space Prince’s face turns into Prince the musician just before he sings in a falsetto, a joke that none of the kids in the audience are going to get.)
It’s not explicit, but it’s easy to interpret “The Prince That Wanted Everything” as the story of how Lumpy Space Princess came to Ooo and found herself. LSP’s problem is that she still needs to find that special companion, but she knows she can only be with someone who is her complete equal. And she means complete. Her fan fiction ends with a wishful plot twist that tries to make Lumpy Space Prince real so that he can be his female half’s lover, and for a moment it appears as if LSP’s plan will work. But the rustling behind the bushes isn’t a dimensional portal. It’s just a rabid possum, yet he rodent is a wake-up call that LSP needs to hear. Wishing and fantasizing about the perfect partner will only lead to a stream of possums, but with proper action, LSP might one day find her one true love.
- I love how horrible the dialogue is at times to reflect LSP’s lack of skill as a writer. The opening argument between Lumpy Space Prince and his parents is hilariously repetitive.
The streak of blonde hair on Lumpy Space Prince after he meets Fionna is a quick, easy way of showing how big of an influence she has on him.
- Magic Woman! I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to see Magic Man fully control the narrative of this show. Although that’s kind of what he does whenever he shows up.
- “I don’t think this is Gunther.” Poor Ice King. The episode ends with him bound to a tree with a possum under his cloak.
- “Ha! Dance, you puppets!”
- “Do you like my freaky clothes?”
- “How’d he know your name?”
- “Y’all seein’ those big floaty faces?”
- “Wait. Where are your baby tables?”
- “This poorly made sandwich has enlightened me!”
- “Only your fierce spirit can defeat your evil family. And this sword.”
- “Haha! Cake’s helpin’!”