Season four of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic premieres this Saturday at 9:00 am Central! (The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special is also happening tomorrow, so you can expect a post about that in the near future).
Why do I love My Little Pony? I’m glad you asked!
The characters are lifelike, consistent, and relatable. The art style is cute and inviting. The music is great and the jokes are funny. The scripts are tight and clever, with great stories – it’s not just a toy ad, by any means – it’s basically a fantasy show. The production team recognizes and engages with its fanbases (plural), which makes any fandom more fun. I like grim and gritty stuff too, but MLP:FiM is hopeful. I could go on, but here’s my favorite thing: There are six main characters and a host of supporting characters, each with a different personality and a different talent, but they’re all friends, and each pony’s talent is treated as equally valuable.
If you’re not familiar with the show, here’s a run-down:
- Twilight Sparkle is the overall protagonist, a bookish pony who loves research and magic,
- Rainbow Dash is an athletic jock who loves flying and cool stuff,
- Pinkie Pie is a hyperactive extrovert who loves throwing parties,
- Applejack is a country pony who works on her family’s apple farm,
- Rarity is a fashionable pony who loves high society, and
- Fluttershy is a shy pony who loves animals.
Each pony also represents one of the six Elements of Friendship, and Twilight Sparkle recently got “promoted” over the others’ heads and became a princess, but that’s not relevant right now. There’s also a set of young fillies (the Cutie Mark Crusaders) who are looking for their special talents, but don’t know what they are yet.
When something magical is happening and the ponies don’t know what to do, they need Twilight Sparkle to answer questions (or, more often, to guide them all in researching it together). That’s obviously valuable to everyone.
If any pony in the whole of Ponyville is sad or lonely, Pinkie Pie will find out and enlist everyone to help cheer them up. I think that skill can be undervalued or overlooked in real life sometimes, but Pinkie Pie is literally the life of the party.
Rarity is a really special example for me, because she’s a fashion designer, and usually I’d think that’s shallow. Often preppy girls are the “villains” in stories like this, and I’m sure a lot of people can relate to that, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Rarity is associated with generosity, sewing dresses for all her friends multiple times for any formal event to make them happy, rather than doing it the way she wants. She works hard in her dressmaking shop. At first she clashes with Applejack, who would be more overtly a symbol of work ethic, but over time they bond and respect each other. She loves pretty things, fashion makes her happy, and because of that, it makes others happy too.
An added bonus is even though each pony has a main talent or interest, they also have other skills and enjoy other things. In one episode, Rainbow Dash and Applejack compete in the annual Running of the Leaves competition because they want to beat each other, learning a valuable lesson about healthy competition in the process, but Twilight Sparkle also runs in the race just to enjoy the activity and the scenery.
The Crusaders, the little fillies, have multiple episodes explicitly based around the theme that everyone is special and each of them has something to offer the world, often tied in with lessons about accepting others and trying new things. It’s more subtle with the Mane Six, as they’re called in the fandom, but I love the whole thing. Everyone is valuable. You can find your talent, and you can do things just for enjoyment too. You can help other people, and ask for their help when they have expertise in something. I always hear, “Saying everyone is special is another way of saying no one is,” but that’s not the case. Our differences make us special! They’re something to find, embrace and learn to use.
Like I mentioned, Twilight Sparkle became a princess at the end of season three. The in-between movie Equestria Girls dealt with her princess nerves and how being a princess is about responsibility more than power and privilege. I’ll be interested to see how that plays out in season four, and if it alters the dynamic I’ve been describing.
What do you like about My Little Pony, or what’s putting you off? What other “kids’” shows do you like as an adult, and why?