Dear Pink Hair Girl,
My friends want me to watch My Little Pony. Is this some sort of internet joke? They don’t talk a lot about it when we’re all hanging out, but online, it’s just a constant stream of links to ponies. So, I finally watched the first two episodes, and I don’t really feel anything. I asked if they watch it to make fun of it or something, but they keep insisting it’s awesome. They all say they’re proud to be ‘bronies’, and it blows my mind that there’s all this commotion over a TV show for little girls. Can someone please explain?
– Human in Ponyville
This must be awfully confusing for you. One minute you and your friends are busy playing Team Fortress, and the next they’re posting pictures on Facebook of what they would look like if they were ponies. Or what playing Team Fortress would look like full of ponies.
So you’ve watched the first two episodes, and can’t figure out what all the hullabaloo is about. It’s a cartoon full of brightly colored rainbow super-deformed ponies who fly around and sing about magic and friendship. Right? Absolutely it is, and your adult male friends LOVE IT. Your first reaction upon hearing that a guy friend likes My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (or MLP:FIM from now on), is likely to poke fun at his masculinity, or question his sexuality. Nope! It seems like EVERYONE is into ponies, but I bet you’re pretty sure that you’re not the crazy one.
I could start off by saying that the first couple episodes probably aren’t the best the show’s got to offer, but if you didn’t like them, then I don’t know if any particular episode I could suggest would change your mind. So instead, I’m going to list some of the reasons I’ve come across when Bronies talk about why they like MLP:FIM so much.
- The animation is high quality – If you compare the old MLP cartoon to this new one, the difference is strikingly obvious. Even without comparing the two, MLP:FIM has some pretty stunning animation. Go watch some clips of it on YouTube in 1080p and appreciate the visuals for a second. It’s all really well executed!
- The jokes are well timed – That slap-stick cartoon humor is in high form here. It’s simple, edgy, self-aware, and efficient. A little like the kind of humor that won me over the first time I watched the Emperor’s New Groove, which was the first animated Disney movie I remember thinking wasn’t really targeted at just children. Speaking of which!
- It doesn’t insult your intelligence – Sure, there are moments here and there where you’re reminded that this is meant for little girls, like when they reveal the moral at the end of the episode, but for the most part, the whole thing plays out without assuming that the audience has the mental capacity of a 4 year old. In fact, some of the humor resonates with adults more than it would children, without compromising any of the innocence. This has become a common theme in the past decade or so, since film studios realized they could get more butts in seats if adults could enjoy children’s movies too. The target-bending phenomenon that is MLP:FIM is just further proof that it works for TV shows as well.
- It’s full of Tropes that aren’t Cliches – The heavy characterizations and the familiar plots, make this a comforting show to absorb. Better yet, it barely steps a hoof into the territory of ‘girl cartoon’, seeing as how all the ponies give off a strong sense of individual personality, aren’t boy crazy, and don’t obsess over shopping. If you’re a Pegasister, like myself, there’s at least one pony who reminds you of one of your girl friends, and that’s a good thing! It’s full of relatable stories, plot-lines, and personalities that don’t feel stale or over-done. It’s like a piece of candy that’s just the right amount of sweet.
- The show listens to its fans – On the forefront of audience interactivity for TV shows is MLP:FIM. My favorite example of this is when fans spotted a cross-eyed ‘filler pony’ in the background of a crowd of ponies. They lovingly named her Derpy Hooves, and made up a back story about how she’s the mail carrier in Ponyville. Wouldn’t you know it, the show’s creators listened, put cross-eyed Derpy Hooves in the show, and made her a mail delivery pony. Another favorite show of mine, Adventure Time, also takes on the interactivity tactic with it’s audience. When fans began to draw opposite-gender versions of the show’s characters on Deviant Art, lo and behold, the alternate-world characters became a part of the show. This is all about being able to listen to your fans, and giving them some love. Which brings me to my next point.
- There is SO MUCH love – The Brony community is actually one of the nicest group of folks out there. I mean, sure you still have your trolls and flamers out there, but Ponychan for the most part is just about sharing the lols. Yes, you herd me right. Ponychan. When 4Chan could no longer handle the volume of people posting ponies in /b/ (the home of Anonymous), couldn’t handle how many topics got derailed by ponies, how many people snuck in as much pony as possible, they told the Bronies to make their own board, and so they did. It’s all pretty glorious, I can’t look at the Ponychan image boards without busting a gut laughing at some of the memes. I’d say that at least half of my positive experience with MLP:FIM is the camaraderie. It’s as though Friendship really IS magic.
- Lauren Faust is phenomenal – She started as a character artist for The Maxx (my god, remember THAT show?), then worked her way up to write/produce Powerpuff Girls, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and now MLP:FIM. All along the way she’s helped shape the evolution and the landscape for cartoons today. Consequently, Powerpuff Girls and Foster’s Home had a lot of adult fans as well, they just didn’t happen to blow up as virally as MLP. They’ve recently announced that in the Spring of 2012, Faust will be producing a show called Super Best Friends Forever, made up of cartoon shorts featuring Supergirl, Batgirl, and Wondergirl. I nearly EXPLODED WITH HAPPINESS when I heard this. DC + Lauren Faust! OMG I can die happy come 2012. So, y’know prepare yourself for that, because that’s probably the Armageddon I keep hearing about.
I really hope that these reasons have helped clear up some of the confusion. I promise that your guy friends aren’t going to mutate into female children. Well, ok, I CAN’T promise that, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. I dunno what would be causing it, but definitely NOT watching My Little Pony. If you’ve decided for sure that you really aren’t into the show, then you know what? It’s not for everyone, and it’s ok that you’re not a Brony! As long as you can understand where your friends are coming from, maybe you can be a … Unicousin? Yeah! Welcome to the herd, Unicousin.
List of Real Things
- MLP: Fighting is Magic – This pony fighter game might be a real thing.
- Seth Green posing with Pinkie Pie
- Equestria Girls – MLP spoof of Katy Perry’s California Girls
If you’ve got a snag in your social life, cramping your g33k style, feel free to ask me for some advice!
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.