Every now and again, life catches me off-guard. It’s times like these I need to turn to contributions from you, the audience. If you’ve ever read the Opinions section of the local newspaper, or the comments of an article on the Huffington Post, you know that sometimes the readers contribute just as much as the established writers. Thus, I present to you the Crank File.
Today’s Crank File entry comes to us courtesy of Monica A. Flink. Enjoy!
There is nothing better than when something as simple as a children’s television show rises above and beyond the target of just entertaining and educating children. With the combination of excellent writing and good moral values that manage to not be preachy, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has not only become a wildly popular children’s show, but has had cross-demographic success with adults, male and female, as well. Adults watch this show as much as children, and have become major fans of it, inspiring cosplay costumes, remixes, and Internet memes that have made it a huge success.
And I can name them all, dork that I am.
It seems almost too simple to explain why MLP has gotten so popular in the three seasons it has run. But then again, like most media, there can be many reasons, depending on who is considering the show and what they like about it. Fortunately for me, this is my article, and this is what I enjoy most about MLP and why it is magical for me.
1. The Characters
The characters of MLP are really what sells this show. While they may be archetypes in one way or another (the bookworm, the tomboy, the girly girl), each character is also real. They have flaws and character traits that remind us of ourselves. We can connect with them because sometimes we too forget to ask for help, or get impatient with our families, or have a fear that seems impossible to face. At times, we can see so much of ourselves in the characters that we swear show creator Lauren Faust has a camera in our homes.
There’s something here for everyone. The smart ones, the girly ones, the ones that bounce around with pink curls, throwing impromptu parties for the hell of it.
2. The Music
Everyone likes a good song. And MLP seems to have them in moderation, which is far more preferable to having them in every single episode. The show can even poke fun at its own musicality, one episode having a character pointing out that a song sung by one of the ponies was the worst song he had ever heard. But the songs (the good ones anyway) are catchy and short, and may achieve ear worm status if you watch the episode more than once. They are also relevant, and not there just to have a musical interlude.
3. The Writing
Writing a plausible, charming children’s show is so much harder than anyone thinks it should be. It can too easily become cloyingly sweet, or irritating, or embarrassingly cheesy. MLP straddles the line between okay for children and entertaining for adults with pride and grace, giving us all some dry humor, wit, and jokes that even grown ups can enjoy. Even the sight gags and the physical comedy remains in the realm of funny and stays out of the dangerous “too-Stooges” style of slapstick. The writers also work hard to preserve continuity and that same spirit of wonder and charm that keeps audiences coming back.
4. The Setting
Whether it is in the little town of Ponyville or the grand central city of Canterlot, the setting of MLP is something to be considered as well. The designers of the show made a technicolor fantasy world that is reminiscent of Dorothy first stepping into Oz, and maintains that sense of being in another world. The writing meticulously makes certain to only retain references to hooves instead of hands, “everypony” or “anypony” instead of everyone or anyone, and makes it possible so that we do not even wonder how they do things like hold pens or ride bikes. It just seems so natural.
Yep, just a normal day in Ponyville. Where’s Jean-Luc Picard when you need him?
5. The Joy
In a world where we have the worst of worst things to see every day in the news on television and online and in the newspaper, MLP gives us a world where everything is summed up at the end of twenty minutes of action. There is always a happy ending, and there is never an occasion to mourn for more than a little bit. Ponies find love, friends, learn lessons, and become better people who all care about each other without asking for anything in return. Even the most bitter of us can appreciate a world where nobody is cynical to the point of coldness, where even the chilliest disposition can be won over with the magic of friendship.
6. The Nostalgia
One of the main reasons adults even sat down to watch this show was for the nostalgia. Children of the 1980’s are reaching their late twenties and early thirties, and this show can bring back memories of a simpler time. A time without worrying about taxes and the economy, without the day to day grind of a job. The show brings back the feeling of having nothing to do on a Saturday morning but get your own bowl of cereal so you did not bother Mom and Dad, who worked just as hard then as you do now. Familiar faces in new stories just give that warm feeling inside of something that had been forgotten but not completely lost behind memories of first dates and when the next project for work is due.
I had about ten trillion of these lying around, a minefield of pink pony agony to bare feet.
If I had a choice of watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic on television, or one of the processed, homogenized re-make movies that are so popular right now, without a doubt I would choose MLP. The story, the style, the complete package make this an original show that still has a flavor of nostalgia to it that keeps adults coming back as well as children.
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