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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

C'mon, Everypony -- Let's Explore My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Together

Posted By on Wed, Feb 1, 2012 at 9:30 AM


As I've hinted at once or twice on the Exhibitionist, I'm a huge My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fan. Though it doesn't unseat the oft-mentioned Mystery Science Theater 3000 as my all-time favorite, it's my top currently running scripted show and is likely to remain so until Breaking Bad returns.

Why is that? I mean, we're not talking about something respectable like Downton Abbey (hey, read Laura and Meave's recaps!) or of local interest like Alcatraz (hey, read Angela's recaps!). This is, as The A.V. Club succinctly phrased it, about fucking cartoon ponies. Why does an ostensibly mature, grown-up, tax-paying person of 38 and a half years watch a show for little girls that functions as a commercial for a reboot of a toy line from the 1980s?

Let's find out.

I get why your immediate reaction is "Um, no." I've had friends laugh in my face when I told them I liked it, and who can blame them? I was skeptical, too. First, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is hampered by a clumsy, off-putting name, kinda like the great Cougar Town -- which hasn't been about older women chasing younger men since halfway through the first season, but the network won't let the producers change it to something less dumb. Second, it's also (see above) about fucking cartoon ponies. (To pursue that point briefly in a different direction, all that needs to be said about the Battlestar Galactica remake is that it was about sexy killer robots in space. Being reductive is rarely wrong.)

I also understand if you refuse to watch it because while you watch Family Guy and/or South Park, those are cartoons for adults, not kids. Me, I don't watch reality/game shows, not even your Project Runways or your Top Chefs. Heck, I ran out of steam on the highly praised scripted shows The Wire and Deadwood. No show is for everyone, de gustibus non disputandum est and all that.


Anyway, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is halfway through its second season, but we'll start soon with the first season. Those shows have yet to be released on DVD, and the official site only streams the most recent episodes. Exhibitionist readers are smart cookies, however, and I'm sure you can find a way to watch 'em.

I suggest starting right below this sentence.

We'll explore topics like the world and mythos the show has been building, how the consistently high quality of the writing is often at odds with the requirements of children's television (I'm looking at you, "episode-ending letters to Princess Celestia about the magic of friendship"), Spike as boy-audience surrogate (and why those boys tend to hate Rarity), pop-culture homages to such child-unfriendly properties as Trainspotting and Curb Your Enthusiasm, and the butch/femme dynamic among the characters.

And, of course, we'll explore the show's relationship with its unexpected fanbase, including the strange evolution of Derpy Hooves -- surely the only kids' show character thus far whose eventual entry into the canon began with a comment on 4chan. (Note: that's a link to Know Your Meme, not 4chan.)

We'll also look at the fans themselves, their subculture and events, and the art they've created. Personally, I believe anything that spurs the level of creativity and artwork that My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has, particularly on deviantART, can't be a bad thing

We won't spend too much time on the backlash against the show, because, well, whatever.


A related tangent: One day in elementary school in the mid-1980s, I was arguing with a classmate about something, and apropos of nothing she dropped the biggest ad hominem bomb she could think of: "Well, at least I'm not into Star Trek like you are!" I still rank it as one of the greatest compliments I ever received. A few years later, a kid I barely knew made it her mission in life to get me to stop liking Pink Floyd, even writing "Give up Pink Floyd!" in my yearbook. Didn't work.

And, finally, if you decide come along, it's okay to say you're doing so ironically. I promise you'll retain your carefully constructed integrity, and nobody will be any the wiser or look at you askance the next time you put on your vintage browns and smoke cloves on the sidewalk outside Amnesia as an artisanally scruffy retro-folksy-steampunk collective plays.

In the meantime, join us.


Next Time: "Friendship is Magic, Parts 1 & 2," the typically problematic pilot.


Sherilyn Connelly is a San Francisco-based writer. She also curates and hosts Bad Movie Night at The Dark Room, every Sunday at 8pm.

Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF (follow Sherilyn Connelly on Twitter at @sherilyn) and like us on Facebook.

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