Stop. Stop it right there. I can hear you judging me for liking My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic before you understand the reason–not all of you, but definitely some, and before you go rolling your eyes, allow me to explain…
Explanation 1: It’s entertaining.
“I always let my imagination run away with me and then it comes back with cake!” – Pinkie Pie, from the episode “Castle Mane-ia”
See above. The writing is (a) adorable, (b) filled with puns (horseplay and otherwise), and (c) hilarious. Granted, (a) and (c) are subjective, but I have a corroborating witness of very different entertainment tastes. Observe:
Me: You’re really going to sit down and watch this show that’s targeting 5-year-old girls with me?
John: It’s amusing. And besides, all the little ponies running around? Pretty darn cute.
Full disclosure: this behavior is maybe more frequent than is typical for a well-adjusted, educated, childless 29-year-old woman, but that’s a conversation for another day. Point being: John does not typically join me in watching cartoons for little girls, but the above is an intent-accurate paraphrasing of words that actually came out of my husband’s mouth. Not that it’s a novel thing for educated dudes to like My Little Pony. It’s a thing, apparently. I don’t think John is quite ready to label himself a Brony, anymore than he would label himself a full one Trekkie, but I love the Bronies because they take point number 2 as a cornerstone of their fandom.
Explanation 2: The lessons are excellent.
Okay, okay. So maybe it seems a bit weird for grown-ups to watch a kids’ cartoon for the embedded moral guidance, but it’s not the cutesy wrap-up at the end: it’s the way they get there. The ponies in this world are written with impressive depth for the nature of the show. They have talents and terrors, aspirations and assishness–although you might not be the sort of person to break out in song to deal with part of your day, their motivations are genuine and believable. The main (mane, ahem) characters are young adults, developmentally, and they screw up in ways that young adults (me still included, so I guess not that young) genuinely screw up.
On top of being real, they’re so sweet-natured and kind in intention that it’s easy to find yourself thinking, “Yeah, you know, I actually could try to bring a little more Apple Jack to my worldview.” This comes back around to what I love about what I’ve seen of Brony culture: they seem to embrace the gooey lessons of the ponies and try to reach out to others with kindness, generosity, laughter, loyalty, and honesty…not sure I could name another geekdom that strives to have that kind of magical impact.
Explanation 3: This is the best feminist t.v. EVER.
I’m not kidding. I’m not exaggerating. All of the main characters are gals with careers. Their adventures are focused entirely around their female friendships, their careers, and saving the world. Boys? Whatever. These ponies are too young to settle down, and they aren’t fretting themselves about the absence of a special somepony. The only thing that’s important to being a good, happy pony is being your best self in both your own work and the way you show kindness to others.
And better still, because they are so whole unto themselves as characters, the ponies can be girly and frilly and adorable and still be completely relatable to boys. I watched the documentary called Bronies, and while it may be choosing to focusing on only the nicest aspects of a fandom (let’s face it, every fandom has its jackasses, and I’m sure the Bronies have a few in their ranks), I was struck that the male fans seemed not to be seeing the ponies as weird sex symbols, but identifying with them and seeing them as role models. That’s right, ladies: Dudes, not objectifying, but Selfifying super frilly, squeaky, pastel pony embodiments of what it looks like to be a wonderful person.
Rock on, everypony.
Explanation 4: It’s like Lauren Faust is in my head.
I was a big fan of the original toys in the 80s. Apparently, so was Lauren Faust, the brilliant developer of the show. She was interviewed about her childhood games with the toys for the Bronies documentary, and it seems we played with the toys in the same way, conjuring up resonant wild adventures for our small plastic creatures. She also seems to have the same taste for atrocious puns that I do, and seems to understand the rule of making bad puns funny: keep going. One bad pun is meh, but twenty? Once you hit a critical mass of atrocity, painful turns into stomach-clutching, tear-inducing hilarity. It’s comic gold, for nerdy people.
Bonus Explanation: John de Lancie
The actor who plays Q on Star Trek: TNG voices the occasional character Discord, a chaotic evil/neutral chimera who lives to turn the harmonious world of Equestria upside-down. He’s also very sweet and seems to be willing to be an influential voice for fans, encouraging and facilitating the culture of love and acceptance. And funny:
Maybe you won’t find as much shameless delight in the show as I do, but I hope that I’ve at least given you a few reasons to not mock other fans and persuaded you that this is one book that can’t be judged by its cover.