MLP: Friendship is Magic
By: Meg Humphrey and Terra Clarke Olsen
I have to admit that when My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic was announced, I was skeptical. I grew up with the original My Little Ponies and I still love them fiercely (yes, I have them on DVD). I mean, their best human friend was named Megan – of COURSE I would be personally invested in the original and be wary of any remakes. Remakes are usually bad and “ruin” the original. But when FiM hit netflix and after the rave reviews some of my friends gave it, I thought I should give it a shot. I haven’t watched every episode of it, but I have to say that I like it. It’s not trying to be the original MLP. Friendship is Magic takes what was so successful about the original – musical numbers, fantastical situations that teach life lessons, a huge cast with a variety of personalities, and a focus on women – and recreates it fit in with current pop culture and society. It updates it so current kids and adults will find merit in the show. It IS different – the original ponies were more serious and had less humor, less physical comedy, and featured some darker storylines (Firefly’s Adventure, anyone? Those four episodes are legitimately alarming). I can see where fans of the original ponies have an issue with the new tone of FiM. Even the darkest episodes of Friendship is Magic are still kept light hearted, fast paced, and never go more than a minute or two without a joke thrown in. This doesn’t do a disservice to the show, though, as the constant abundance of colorful optimism is something that is hardly seen on TV even on children’s shows. The unlimited enthusiasm of the Mane 6 ponies is infectious and anyone who watches can see themselves or who they want to be in the ponies. The driving force behind the show is that everypony is different, but that doesn’t make them bad or good. All characters learn lessons, all characters are heroes, but all characters are imperfect. If that’s not a good lesson for today’s youth – that you are great despite your flaws and you can always learn more – then I don’t know what is.
I was handing out GeekGirlCon promo cards at ECCC several years ago, but at one point stepped to the side to make a phone call. That’s when it happened–my first MLP experience. I was approached by two bronies; they wanted to talk about BronyCon and GGC. I was still on the phone, mind you, so needless to say I was perturbed by the whole experience. After that, I never really thought about the community, or the show for that matter.
Fast-forward to two years later. A friend mentioned that he watched the documentary, Bronies, and that it made him sad. He ignited my curiosity, and I watched it a few days later. But to my surprise, I had a much different reaction. I loved the fact that these fans had something that brought so much joy to their lives. But I kept wondering how a children’s show could make people (adults) that happy. And that’s when it started, I started binge watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
It started innocently enough. Clearly I watching for research purposes. Well, that’s what I told myself. Until I realized that I had just watched 4 episodes in a row when I should have been working (I had a project deadline that was due the next day). What the heck was happening?!
I posted on Facebook about how I started watching the show, and to my surprise, Meg chimed in that she loved that show. Soon one of her friends, Carly, spoke up too. They both loooove the show. One thing led to another, and next thing I know we were planning a Friendship is Magic viewing party, complete with a full apple dinner menu and homemade apple cider.
The day of the party, I was thinking about how this came to be. I’m hosting a Friendship is Magic party. I’m hosting. What?! I wouldn’t call myself a fan if someone asked, but why not? I was up to season three at that point and planned a dish inspired by Applejack’s farm. I guess what was bothering me is that I couldn’t pegdown why I liked the show. What was it about these ponies that were so magical and enchanting? I was looking forward to watching the show with ‘real’ fans, since there commentary might give me more insight into the spell that is MLP.
Our dinner and viewing party was, well, magical. We chatted, ate, chatted, drank, more chatting, watched a few episodes, and just had a wonderful time. And it hit me, our party represented MLP in a lot of ways: friends learning and growing together, while having a great time and accepting each other for who we are. MLP has a diverse set of characters, each with their own personality and quirks (we quickly discovered that the ponies we disliked the most were the ponies represented our own personality quirks…that’s an article for another day), and teaches acceptance and kindness. At it’s core, MLP is pure and fun.
I hope more people leave their biases at the door and watch My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. If you don’t like it, fine, but don’t belittle a fanbase because they find joy in something pure. Remember, friendship is magic, not hatred.
Signing off! – Meg and Terra