Half way through its second season, Felix has yet to review My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Shame. The oddly popular TV series based on the line of Hasbro toys has gained immense popularity since it debuted in 2010, spawning an entire subculture of fans older than the target demographic, known as Bronies and Pega-sisters.
If somehow you have been oblivious to the arrival of My Little Pony (MLP), a summary is required. Each episode follows a roughly similar structure: One of the mane (see what I did there?) six ponies typically encounters an event that disrupts everyday life. Only by working together as a team and using the magic of friendship are they are able to overcome their difficulties and save the day. Far from being formulaic, the show is able to use this skeletal template to their advantage, with enough variety and subsidence to entertain the older fans whilst keeping it suitable for younger audience members.
Critics of the show will often stress the simplicity of the themes, and the fact that the show is aimed at young girls. Fans of the show will retort that the series in fact tackles deep moral issues and struggles that people of all ages can associate with. For example, the season one episode ‘Bridle Gossip’ depicts how the residents of Ponyville fear a zebra because she is different and unknown. The episode is resolved when the ponies are able to realise their casual racism is wrong and befriend the zebra.
The show was developed by Lauren Faust, whose previous work includes The Powerpuff Girls and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. Award winning composer Daniel Igram includes a variety of themes in his music for MLP, ranging from Broadway parodies (‘At the Gala’) to gospel choir tracks (‘Hush Now Lullaby’).
The show’s popularity with older audiences is due in large part to Hasbro’s unusual decision to allow fans to post and edit clips and full episodes online (take that, SOPA and ACTA). This allowed the community to flourish, with it growing at a tremendous rate. It is also notable that Hasbro actively works with the community, incorporating feedback from fans directly into the show.
Derpy Hooves (whose cross-eyed expression was left in as part of an animator’s joke) was spotted in the very first episode of season one and quickly became a fan favourite, inspiring a “Where’s Wally?” style game between the show’s artists and fans. She was recently made canon when she had a speaking role in ‘The Last Roundup’.
In an era when the majority of entertainment available is sex, drug or violence related it is genuinely refreshing to find a show that promotes integrity, morals and staying true to yourself. Sure, you might not like all of the main six equally (you will love them all though!), but this show has something for anyone willing to give it a try.
All broadcast episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic are available on YouTube in 1080p. The next episode ‘Read It and Weep’ will be broadcast Saturday 4 February on The Hub and will be available on YouTube later that day.