My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has gained an insane amount of popularity since its release in 2010. With a shocking 143 half-hour episodes (and another 26 scheduled to air starting on April 15th), it’s success is among the top in modern-day animation.
The My Little Pony franchise began with a toy line in 1981, but expanded into the world of television in 1992. Its target audience has always been young girls; however, the Friendship is Magic series has seemingly opened up brand-new doors in reaching audiences of all ages and genders.
The most interesting element associated with the 2010 reboot, especially to an outsider of the fanbase, are the fandom participants known as bronies.
Urban Dictionary defines this category of fans as: “A name typically given to the male viewers/fans (whether they are straight, gay, bisexual, etc.) of the My Little Pony show or franchise. They typically do not give in to the hype that males aren’t allowed to enjoy things that may be intended for females.”
After discovering that there were many unconventional fans who enjoy the series so much, it was difficult not to be intrigued with what it has to offer. So as an avid viewer of animated works who’s constantly seeking out new series to immerse myself in, I watched the first 6 episodes of Friendship is Magic and . . . found it lackluster at best. Its themes are very childish, and the number of times that the “magic of friendship” was referred to was definitely a large contributor to this.
Now, before throwing virtual tomatoes at me, know that my current opinion on the franchise has shifted. But at the time, I just couldn’t handle sitting through any more episodes. And I genuinely began to believe that the series was hypnotizing anyone with a Y-chromosome and love for cartoons to join this Brony Cult. (Note: Despite viewing the brony wave as a brainwashing conspiracy at first, I have always strongly admired this passionate group of fans for their stand against gender norms, whether intentional or not).
Recently, I discovered that a member of a group project that I’m in possesses the very rare trait of being a fellow 20-something who watches animated television targeted at young people. But after comparing lists and realizing that our top series didn’t align, it wasn’t much of a surprise when she told me about how much she enjoys watching the current rendition of My Little Pony, and recommend to give the series a shot. When I told her that I had already tried, and it wasn’t for me, she suggested that I watch the Equestria Girls (straight-to-DVD) movie franchise. And because she took my recommendation and sat through a few episodes of Star vs. the Forces of Evil, it was only fair that I gave the first movie a shot.
Putting it to play while working on an essay was my “plan of attack”, so that I could at least do something productive while getting through the movie.
It was cute, catchy, fun, and I hardly got any of my essay done. The next day I played the second movie in the lineup, Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rock, and enjoyed it even more than the first. There’s definitely something addicting about watching a group of diverse personalities act as one unit through, yes, the power of friendship. And I’d be completely lying if I said that I didn’t listen to the soundtrack during my 1.5 hour transit to class the next day.
The Equestria Girls movies give off a similar vibe as many of the Barbie movies, which also typically center a group of friends who learn that they have to either work as one, find the power within, or another incredibly cheesy and cliché moral in order to defeat an antagonist.
Both the Barbie and Equestria Girls movies seem very childish in narrative and plot at first, but are actually quite entertaining and tell a solid story that can keep an older animation-loving audience captivated. Additionally, the amount of “girl power” that the My Little Pony movies, and series as a whole, emits is solid without being preachy. Although My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has two male directors involved in its production, female developer Lauren Faust is responsible for its creation. And although I’ve only seen a small handful of episodes, so far there aren’t any negative female portrayals in the series—in fact, the female characters, which make up the majority of the cast, are portrayed as strong, brave, and powerful.
Overall, the appeal of Equestria Girls is strong, and has reopened my mind to picking up My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic once again. I’m not saying that the two should be compared, but I tactlessly put Avatar: The Legend of Korra down after a couple of episodes before a friend convinced me to give it another try, all because it didn’t seem as great as its predecessor The Last Airbender.
And after falling in love with the series I began questioning all of my past life decisions.
I like to think that I’ve become more open-minded since then. And with the insane popularity that the Friendship is Magic series has earned, there has to be something special to it—so why not give it another shot? With over a hundred episodes available on Netflix, the series is just begging to be binge-watched by avid animation viewers of all ages.
A/N: Seriously, just listen to this!