So it’s been a while since I promised I’d write this, but fear not, everypony, you are not forgotten! The first real entry in my paean to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic begins now!
Here I wanna talk about the show’s appeal and why it’s a great show for kids, and also why I think it appeals to adults as well.
-But quick – let me tell you what this show is all about. So there’s this nerdy pony named Twilight Sparkle who doesn’t really know anything about friendship. Her tutor is Princess Celestia, ruler of Equestria, the country where everypony lives. The Princess is worried about Twilight growing up in the castle with no friends, so she sends her student to Ponyville to make some. She meets some ponies upon arriving that she thinks are totally weird and annoying, and who end up becoming her very best friends. At the end of each of their adventures Twilight writes a letter to Princess Celestia telling her what she’s learned about friendship.
Okay. Now back to the meat of this post. Why is this awesome?
First of all, the show teaches a number of great lessons, both explicitly and implicitly, like:
- You can have very different interests from someone else and still be friends.
- There’s a difference between using a talent to help a friend and being boastful about it.
- You should never let stubborn pride get in the way if you need help.
- Good friends are sportsmanlike whether they win or lose.
- You should be open-minded about new things. (I’m looking at you, non-bronies!)
- Friendship isn’t always easy, but it’s worth fighting for!
There’s also just a lot of meaningful implied messages. For example:
- Each of the characters has different interests and talents, but nopony is portrayed as more important or useful than the others. The brainiac couldn’t have solved the problem without the help of the party girl; the shy, quiet one saves the town when no one else could; etc.
- The story focuses on friendship between a bunch of girls and problems that real girls might face (jealousy over a best friend’s new friend, worries about what to do with their future, etc.) rather than annoying ‘boy troubles’ or unrelatable issues.
- The Mane 6 and the supporting cast face a huge number of problems, which can be as small as making sure everyone feels welcome at a party or as big as defeating a millenia-old enemy of Equestria.
- Each of them could probably be shunted into a stereotypical role (Rainbow Dash is the jock, Twilight Sparkle is the nerd, Applejack is the hick, etc.) but everypony actually has a really well-rounded character with a fresh new take on their archetype. For example, Rarity is the sort of catty, fashion-obsessed pony. But she’s the fashion-obsessed pony who owns and operates her own boutique and designs and makes all her own attire and merchandise, and who regularly makes beautiful dresses for her friends as gifts.
Okay, so there’s the reasons why your kids should watch it. But why do I watch it? I’m in college, for Celestia’s sake.
Well, first of all, it’s hilarious. For example, as I mentioned before, at the end of each episode Twilight Sparkle writes a letter to Princess Celestia, her teacher, to tell her what she’s learned about friendship over the course of that episode. In one episode, the last week or so has been dull and Twilight’s deadline is fast approaching, so she tries with more and more chaotic results to magic up a problem she can solve so she doesn’t get behind on her homework. By the end of the episode she’s totally unraveled and freaking out that she’ll be sent back to magic kindergarten for failing her assignment. Of course in the end the Princess shows up and tells her not to worry about it, teaching an important lesson about not making a mountain out of a molehill. But that’s not the funny part – Twilight’s cackling descent into madness centered firmly around her inability to do her homework is.
Also, much like other awesome cartoons such as Phineas and Ferb, there are tons of nods to an older audience tucked into the show that don’t take away from the series at all. For example, when baby dragon Spike falls asleep in the punch bowl, Pinkie Pie jokes that the punch has been Spiked. There are also cool background easter eggs, such as these poni-fied Big Lebowski characters slipped into the background of a scene where the ponies are going bowling:
And I’ll be the first to admit I’m a sucker for strong female characters, but I do enjoy watching it simply because all the ponies represent different kinds of girls so well and so positively that it makes me all bubbly inside. I mean, the main character is a huge bookworm! And that’s okay! I enjoy watching it because it has all the characteristics I mentioned earlier.
Finally, the animation is beautiful, and the character designs are cute, memorable, and waaaaaay less uncanny-valley-terrifying than the previous generations of My Little Pony. Seriously, the old generations are creepy, and their merchandise is scary. ;__;
So basically: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is a fresh, clever, funny, and thoughtful portrayal of friendship, real-life problems, and great role models, and so it appeals to both younger viewers and to myself. Hopefully this post will make you check out an episode or two yourself.