A Pony Fan Is Born

Posted by Gia Manry on May 30, 2011 in Fandom, Hobbies and Collections, Television |

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this question asked in recent months, be it on Facebook, Twitter, or in real life: “what is the deal with all my friends getting into My Little Pony all of a sudden?!” So I thought I’d save you fan-persons a bit of trouble and trot out an explanation (get it?). I’ve split it into two sections: first, how adults come to the new animated series from Hasbro, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and second, why they tend to fall in love with it.

How A Pony Fan Is Born

1. The Inkling
A person— usually someone already somewhere along the geek scale; maybe not a die-hard fantasy reader but someone who’s already open to cartoons and comics outside of Pixar stuff —hears about My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. It might be a passing comment on Facebook from a friend. It could be that they go out with several friends who start replacing words like “everybody” with “everypony.” Or maybe they’re trolling the web and find some particularly hilarious meme crossing ponies with a franchise of which they’re already fond (deviantArt and 4chan alike worship at the altar of the Pony). These stumblings become more frequent and eventually they overhear that the show was developed and executive-produced by Lauren Faust, best known for her work on The Powerpuff Girls— which spurs feelings of nostalgia combined with pure awesome.

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2. The Introduction
Most Pony fans are introduced to Friendship is Magic by a friend. They’re just hanging out somewhere, looking for something to do, and someone boots up a computer or Playstation 3 and streams an episode on YouTube. (The episodes are also available for sale and rental on iTunes, but the whole first season is $70 to buy, $26 bucks to watch and not own. Harsh! Early adopters were able to watch episodes on TV channel The Hub’s website, but they only made a few episodes available at a time.) Some fans, though, will eventually be overwhelmed by how many of their friends are getting into the show, both men (the infamous “bronies”) and women and seek it out themselves.

These latter fans are the ones who are most likely to not be charmed from the get-go, however. I wouldn’t be an honest journalist if I didn’t say that there’s probably a certain amount of groupthink going on; if you’re surrounded by friends already enjoying the show, you’re more likely to start digging it yourself. On your own, it can be hit or miss.

3. The Indoctrination

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is like gummi Life Savers mixed with crack: you can’t just have one, even though they’re sweet and you know they could rot your teeth. I’ll explain more on why later, but once the viewer has come to know who the characters are, they start to understand the memes and become more oriented to the increasingly active Friendship is Magic community, supported by the bronies and long-time pony fans (most obviously represented by those people who take old ponies and customize them).

Before you know it, you’ve bought a basic Rainbow Dash ($5.04 at Target!) and, horrified at the lack of Dash’s butch haircut from the TV show, you’ve decided not to “customize” her…but just tweak her a little.

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And it’s all downhill from there….

Why a Pony Fan Is Born

I most often see people describe Friendship is Magic as “actually good” (since it is, after all, a cartoon series based on a Hasbro toy, the sort of thing that traditionally serves as little more than a 25-minute commercial). This is, of course, an oversimplification.

While the show is completely adorable and full of all those cheesy little life lessons that everyone eventually grows up to realize isn’t always right— every episode ends with “main” pony, Twilight Sparkle, writing a letter to her teacher Celestia (who is also the princess of the pony’s home country of Equestria) about the friendship lesson(s) she learned in that episode —it’s also remarkably irreverent. At least, for a bona fide kids’ show.

I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the biggest reasons for this is in the pony characters themselves. They’re all good-hearted, well-meaning characters, and yes, they all have a sort of flat “character flaw” afflicted to them. But throughout the show’s first season, each and every one of them winds up going completely psycho in at least one episode. Of course, some of them go psycho a lot more often. For example, in that top picture, the one on the left? Her name is Pinkie Pie. It should be OMGI’MHYPEDUPONSPEED Pie. She’s great. But the more sedate yellow pony with a pink mane on the right, aptly named Fluttershy, also gets her moments here and there.

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The episodes are like cotton candy: light, fluffy, great to have on in the background while hanging out and chatting with friends (or while, you know, writing blog articles). It’s easy to get through them, and especially easy to daisy-chain through the entire 26-episode first season.

So, do yourself a favor and give it a shot. Even if you don’t get into it, odds are good you’ll have a friend who does, and you’ll want in on the joke(s).

Bonus Content! The Future of Ponies

It is an important fact to note that Lauren Faust, whose name attracted so many people to Friendship is Magic, is stepping down from the show’s executive producer role. (She says her name will now be listed as a “consulting producer” but further clarifies that while she was involved in the scenario and script writing, she will not be actively involved from hereon out.)

Faust also notes that the same team will be working on the show, which is comforting, but then she adds that the show “will be as entertaining as ever, though perhaps in a slightly different way,” which sounds a little scary.

But even if subsequent seasons of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic don’t reach the heights of season one, the fandom has been established and will carry on on its own.

Remember: we’ll always have Derpy Hooves.*

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* A pony first spotted in the background of the show’s first episode, whose googly eyes resulted in her being unofficially dubbed “Derpy Hooves” by the fandom. Faust herself acknowledged the character and auctioned off a Derpy Hooves sketch for a charity a while back.

Gia Manry is a Texas-based geek who you can hire. Or you could just follow her on Twitter.

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