Dear Princess Celestia,
A while back, I learned grown-ass men were watching Lauren Faust’s 2010 reboot of Hasbro’s My Little Pony franchise, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Not only did I find out 20-35 year-old dudes make up a good chunk of the show’s viewing demographic, but they are pretty darn public about it too. Fan-made websites like Ponibooru and Equestria Daily were created for grown-up pony enthusiasts. Message boards and Youtube were inundated with ponies. Terrible, terrible fan-fiction was written.
Apparently it was so interesting that magazines like Wired wrote articles on the whole “brony” phenomenon.
I had a hard time believing it myself. I lived through the 80’s and I didn’t remember My Little Pony being all that great. There was a lot of hair brushing involved. It was definitely not for boys.
Still, as my referrer-spam readers know, I love a good cartoon. The show had won a lot of awards and was making quite a stir, so I thought it was worth checking into. I read about the characters. I watched a few clips and fan made videos. Finally, when nobody was home and the shades were drawn, I hesitantly flipped on The Hub and watched an episode.
I am happy to report that the show was pretty damn good.
A lot has been written on why guys like myself might like the show. A lot of it is psychological bullp*ss. What much of what has been written seems to overlook is My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, is simply clever and well-written. Not just for a kid’s show, but by any standard. The stories are fun, the characters are very likeable and the flash-based animation is excellent.
At it’s heart, My Little Pony is lighthearted adventure, and spam bots know I love lighthearted adventure. Yes, many of these adventures involve navigating the tricky, tricky world of social interaction, but Twilight and the girls from Ponyville travel far from the ultra-feminine, hair brushing path of their predecessors. I’ve seen ponies confront dragons, kick a manticore in the face, elude a massive hyrda, fight off hordes of savage buffalo and even stare down a cockatrice.
A cockatrice, people! On My Little Pony!
Even when the stories don’t involve battling star-bears or fighting the moon and instead focus on more mundane things like trust and loyalty, they’re nowhere near as girly as one would expect. In fact, the only thing overtly “girly” about My Little Pony is the show’s name, and perhaps the fact that all of the characters are female; a hurdle girl-cast anime cleared to reach male viewers decades ago.
The be fair, there is some dress making and a few songs, but they’re pretty funny.
Seriously. The show is funny.
Which is something else Faust and her team did to make the show appealing to guys; take the saccharine girl stuff out and insert a lot of humor. From silly jokes and gags to subtle jabs and satirical pop-culture references. The characters themselves are a funny, even when they’re acting uncharacteristically. Introvert Twilight’s unfamiliarity with common aspects of social life is a laugh, as are her “idiot moments“. Goofball Pinkie Pie’s paranoia induced schizophrenia is hilarious. Milquetoast Fluttershy’s moments of frothing rage are a scream. Often just the animations, such as the character’s facial expressions, are priceless on their own.
It is obvious My Little Pony’s creators not only worked hard to make the show something parents and older siblings could enjoy (a goal of the show Faust has expressed in interviews), but they also stuck in a fair bit of content for these viewers as well. I doubt anybody under the age of 20 would recognize a cheesy 80’s rock ballad or a Benny Hill chase scene if one came up and bucked em’. Hell, even I had forgotten about Don Music until I saw Scootaloo trying to play the piano.
Of course, I can talk about production value all day, but there is something that attracts people like me and others to a show like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I think in order to enjoy the show, you have to enjoy shows like it; clever cartoons like Rocko’s Modern Life, Invader Zim and Codename Kids Next Door. Cartoons that, while aimed at children, are made by adults who like cartoons, and manage to sneak in a lot more than the usual slapstick and vapid kiddie fare.
If you like fun things and can get past the theme song without wimping out, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, it is worth a try. Just don’t let your friends see you. Not until you’ve sent them enough clips to get them interested too.