We all have biases. This should not be news. Unfortunately, it is.
Ask anyone, any politician, any pundit, anyone who has any opinion about anything, what they base their opinions on, and they will likely say facts, or proven concepts, and their views are inherently more true than all those who oppose them. But facts are immovable, facts are not open to interpretation, and if they all disagree on one issue or another, they can’t all be right. So how does that work? I think I know.
You see, whatever one’s opinion is, they always look for evidence that supports their opinion, and ignore all evidence that refutes it. It’s how an otherwise pretty intelligent guy such as Bill Maher can bash the Tea Party, and say Greenpeace, the ACLU and MoveOn.org are not their liberal equivalent because unlike the Tea Party, they are “educated people.” Yeah, one could debate that Bill. I’m not saying he’s wrong, I’m saying when you dismiss someone’s opinion because you think they are stupider than you, you have needlessly crippled yourself.
Now, because of that, people who have never watched My Little Pony, say bad things about My Little Pony.
We are back to this. My favourite TV show since Stargate Universe was cancelled, is My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. A show about pastel-coloured ponies, unicorns and pegasi, who live in a world of magic, royalty, and cities made of clouds. Though, typically that’s not how I would sell it.
A lot of people hate My Little Pony, and when they hear that some men, over the age of 16, are fans of the show, they think the only rational reaction is to make fun of them. I can certainly see where they are coming from. My Little Pony is a franchise that has traditionally targeted exclusively eight-year-old girls. So to hear 25-year-old men are fans, may seem a bit ridiculous. But here’s the thing, if you’ve never seen the show, you don’t know. Sometimes, things change. Just because the old Transformers cartoons were good, does not mean the movie adaptation is as well; and just because the old My Little Pony series sucked, does not mean the new series does as well.
Now some may ask, why should they bother watching My Little Pony? It’s not like they would bother watching Rainbow Brite or any other shows aimed at young girls. Yeah, but there’s one crucial difference. I’m telling you My Little Pony is good. It’s not just me. Dan Shive of El Goonish Shive as well as millions of other people all agree. The show is good, and we don’t mean that “ironically” no matter what some asshole on some radio show says. Not to say you should take our word for it. But to immediately dismiss it is just arrogant.
“But it’s just a kids show,” you might say. Yeah, but I’ll let C.S. Lewis handle this.
Rainbow looks excited, and Lewis is right. If you label things as beneath you simply because they are targeted towards children, once again, you have needlessly crippled yourself. So why would you do that? It can’t be healthy.
So, if one decides to give My Little Pony a chance, where should they start? The first season has 26 episodes, so there are plenty of options. One might think it’s best to start from the beginning. The first two episodes, Friendship is Magic Parts 1 & 2, do a great job of introducing the characters, however it doesn’t do a great job of introducing the series. Originally the show’s creator, Lauren Faust, wanted there to be an ongoing story, however Hasbro wanted the shows to be watched in any order. I think the premiere was originally written with Faust’s original vision in mind. It feels more like they’re introducing a magical girl anime. So they’re not exactly the best episodes to start with.
The remaining episodes can fit into a few distinct categories, which I will go through one at a time. Most episodes in the series end up being reminiscent of basic slice-of-life dramas. Just a simple day in the life of a group of sentient ponies.
First, there’s Applebuck Season, which is all about Applejack and her stubborn nature. She ends up having the sudden responsibility of having to do her farm’s entire harvest single-hoofedly. She refuses to ask for, or even accept, any help from anyone, and this ends up nearly destroying Ponyville. However it still doesn’t manage to make Applejack an interesting character.
Griffon the Brush Off introduces Gilda the griffon, Rainbow Dash’s best friend from Junior Speedster’s Flight Camp and a complete bitch, one of the kinds who can certainly dish it out, but can’t take it. Pinkie’s the first to notice, and so she spends the entire episode…well…spoilers. Not bad, but probably not the best opener.
Next is, Look Before You Sleep. When a massive rainstorm hits Ponyville, Rarity and Applejack seek shelter in Twilight’s house, so Twilight decides to throw a slumber party, while Rarity and Applejack spend the entire night butting heads. It’s hilarious, especially when they both attempt to kill each other with ballistic pillows.
Winter Wrap Up features Twilight’s quest to fit in. During the town’s massive Winter Wrap Up project, where they prepare the city for spring (they take their weather control projects very seriously) Twilight begins looking for a role to play. Watching her mess up at every attempt to do anything is certainly hilarious, and the opening musical number is one of the few moments where the entire cast bursts into song, which might turn some people off. However much of the fan community thinks the song is amazing. You be the judge.
Fall Weather Friends features a major competition between Applejack and Rainbow Dash. Overly competitive Rainbow Dash basically ends up cheating, causing Applejack to demand a rematch at the annual Running of the Leaves. A race through the nearby Whitetail Wood. Hilarity ensues. Not much to this episode, but it might be worth watching for the final twist ending.
Sonic Rainboom is one of my favourite episodes. Hands down, the best cold open of the series. It stars Rainbow Dash as she enters a huge flying competition in her home town of Cloudsdale. She get’s stage fright and spends most of the episode catatonic, and Rarity doesn’t help when she shows up with her very own pair of wings and manages to upstage Rainbow at every turn. Obviously missing the point of why she’s there to begin with. I love it!
In Green Isn’t Your Color, Rarity gets Fluttershy to try her hoof at modelling. She quickly overshadows Rarity when bigshot photographer, Photo Finish, takes Fluttershy under her metaphorical wing. Fluttershy quickly learns how much she hates attention, and Rarity quickly learns she’s has a jealous side to her. Which culminates in one of the series’ classic lines. “I’m the one who should be mobbed by strangers wherever I go.” Both girls confide in Twilight, and tell her exactly how they feel regarding Fluttershy’s modelling career, telling her to keep it a secret because they assume the other feels the exact opposite. So a good chunk of the episode involves Twilight resisting the urge to tell each of them how the other feels. My favourite part of this episode is every scene with Photo Finish. Classic character.
A Bird in the Hoof is all about Fluttershy and her desire to help all the creatures of the Earth. So when she meets Princess Celestia’s pet bird, Philomena, who is very sick. She steals the animal and tries to nurse it back to health. The comedy in this episode is derived from Fluttershy’s continual failure at treating the bird, and Twilight’s panic when she realizes what Fluttershy did and the likely consequences that will arise…and the awesome Benny Hill sequence near the end. I rate this one in my top ten.
For once Spike has a starring role in Owl’s Well That Ends Well. When Twilight gets a new pet owl, Spike begins to get worried that he’s no longer the “Number one assistant.” It reaches a crescendo when Owlowiscious seems to get more praise than Spike ever did, and if you’re interested in fan art. This related piece certainly offers an interesting perspective on that particular scene. It’s certainly one of my favourites if only for Spike’s starring role. He needs more screen time.
Party of One is one of my favourite episodes for featuring Pinkie Pie’s psychological breakdown. It’s all about Pinkie Pie trying to find out what her friends are doing, and why they won’t come to her party. I think I know why, because she held a party the previous day and they need to wind down…or at least that would be my reason. This episode also features my second favourite cold open of the series. Pay attention to the faces, it seems to be a mixture of confusion and concern. During Pinkie’s investigations, she encounters Rainbow Dash, who panics and runs away, and I’d like to point out that the whole debacle this episode revolves around could have been avoided, if Dash merely slowed down, said hi, and suggested they hang out later that day. It would have calmed Pinkie’s nerves, and given Rainbow a reason to visit Pinkie later when spoilers. But, then the plot wouldn’t go very far. Fantastic episode.
Though most might be interested in a little more action, which brings us to our second category, ass-kicking adventures.
An early episode, Boast Busters introduces fan favourite, The Great and Powerful Trixie, or just Trixie if you’re not a c***. She’s not so much a villain as a pain-in-the-ass. A professional performance magician, she arrives in Ponyville bragging about how she’s the greatest pony in all of Equestria. Obviously this pisses everyone off and they say so. So two of her most loyal followers decide to get a giant monster to attack the town so Trixie can prove to all the non-believers that she is awesome. Obviously this backfires. Great episode, however if you’re anything like me, you will find Trixie to be quite irritating. Not a single redeeming quality that mare, and she doesn’t even get her comeuppance at the end. Which can irritate a lot of people. Not recommended.
Dragonshy might be, hands down, the best episode…or at least the best episode featuring Fluttershy. As a dragon is taking a nap on a nearby mountain, he is breathing soot all over Equestria. So Twilight and the gang go on a mission to evict him…in the nicest way possible, because all that soot ain’t good for the health of all ponykind. Unfortunately, Fluttershy is in panic mode the entire way up, and that fuels much of the episode’s comedy, as well as the conflict, as her fear causes the gang a lot of problems. I can’t reveal much about this episode without spoiling, except to say it is certainly the best of the series.
Of course if you want something a little different, Bridle Gossip is certainly worth a look. A zebra named Zecora arrives in Ponyville and it’s revealed the citizens are a bit xenophobic. They automatically assume she’s up to no good because she creeps around the town, but are too afraid of her to ask her what she’s doing. After all, it might be benign. Apple Bloom realizes this, and decides to confront Zecora, but is stopped by Applejack and her friends. The next day the six awake to find themselves sick or something with abnormal symptoms, Applejack shrunk to the size of an apple, Twilight’s horn has gone limp, and Pinkie’s tongue is swollen. There’s more, but it’s funnier if you see it for yourself. The group assumes Zecora hit them with a curse. Hilarity ensues. I love this episode, if only for Fluttershy’s performance as spoilers.
Swarm of the Century is all about a little tiny bug that Fluttershy finds near the Everfree forest, which quickly turns into a million little bugs that enjoy eating everything in sight. Meanwhile, the town of Ponyville is preparing for a visit from Princess Celestia, so the gang needs to get said bugs out of town very quickly, and every attempt to do so ends in failure, or worse. Meanwhile, Pinkie is obsessed with finding a series of musical instruments. Hilarious time to be had by all. It’s in my top ten.
Of course the series has not been without controversy. Feeling Pinkie Keen is all about Pinkie Pie’s Pinkie Sense, which allegedly allows her to predict the future. The episode consists of Twilight’s skepticism and her attempts to make sense of the Pinkie Sense. I’d love to talk about the controversy, but it’s quite difficult to do so without spoiling the ending. All I will say is that, many skeptics were pissed because they thought it was giving the wrong message. However I disagree, because if you ask me, the ending is perfectly appropriate given all the events that transpire throughout the episode. If I were in the same situation, I’d probably react the same way. My favourite moment though was when Twilight went all Leeroy Jenkins on the episode’s big baddie. Which I won’t spoil, but it is pretty amazing.
A Dog and Pony Show highlights Rarity after she is kidnapped by a group of Diamond Dogs. See, she has a very special gem-finding spell that these Dogs want to use to their advantage. It also features the emasculation of Spike as his love is taken from him before his very eyes. So as Spike and the rest of the team attempt to rescue Rarity, Rarity attempts to annoy the hell out of the Dogs. She does a great job, and it’s her finest moment in my opinion.
Over a Barrel might remind some people of the subjugation of Native land during a colonial North America, because that’s exactly what it’s about. The gang are headed to Appleloosa, a town reminiscent of the old west featured in any Clint Eastwood movie and Back to the Future Part III. The train is hijacked by a herd of Buffalo who are not too pleased with their land being taken by the settlers of Appleloosa. A tree is stolen, along with Spike, and Rainbow and Pinkie try to rescue them, and end up siding with the Buffalo. Things continue to escalate in spite of the attempts by the team to find some consensus between the two groups, until an all out war develops. The highlight is the final battle between the Buffalo and the Appleloosans. Another episode I place in my top ten.
The next category contains episodes about a group of young ponies who call themselves the Cutie Mark Crusaders. They are on a mission to discover their special talent, because once they do, they magically get a symbol on their butt called a cutie mark, signifying said talent. It’s basically about three girls in a hurry to grow up. If you want to add a level of creepy to their appearances, think of earning a cutie mark as the pony equivalent of losing ones virginity. They’re both sort of coming-of-age events, so it does work. I like these characters, but many find them abrasive.
The first appearance of the Crusaders is in Call of the Cutie. Apple Bloom thinks she is the only one in her class with no cutie mark, begins her quest to get one, and it doesn’t help that two spoiled rotten c-words in her class continually make fun of her, calling her “blank flank.” It ends with the revelation that there are two more young ponies who have not earned their marks. So they decide to team up and find their marks together, so they no longer have to feel alone or inferior. Not that they are.
Stare Master is not just about the Crusaders, but Fluttershy as well. As the Crusaders are planning a sleepover at Rarity’s, she needs to call it off because of a big order she needs to spend all night to fill. Fluttershy takes over, and unfortunately, she’s not used to being around three excitable little ponies, so she is quickly overwhelmed. The real crisis begins when the three wander off into the nearby Everfree forest. Not a safe place. I can’t reveal too much without spoiling, but this is certainly one of my favourite episodes. We got Fluttershy being a badass, and the Crusaders being a nuisance. It’s awesome!
Of course the finest moment for the Crusaders is in The Show Stoppers. The three are still on the search for their cutie marks, and their journey results in them entering a local talent show. Twilight advises them to go after things they already enjoy doing, instead of their current strategy of throwing a bunch of metaphorical crap at a wall to see what sticks. Unfortunately, what both Twilight and the Crusaders fail to realize is, just because you enjoy something, doesn’t mean you’re good at it. Which culminates in the final musical number which enters into the so-bad-it’s-good category. I didn’t know what that meant until I saw this episode. It’s amazing!
Finally, The Cutie Mark Chronicles is all about how the main cast got their cutie marks. It’s basically a flashback episode with the Crusaders being used as a framing device. Not my favourite episode, it gets pretty cheesy, but it does offer some insight into the character’s histories. However there are a few continuity errors. So I don’t know. Not a great episode.
Last but not least, there was one ongoing story in the first season. But it was only mentioned in three episodes. I call it the Gala Trilogy, and it’s best to watch these three episodes in order, and I will start by saying they are excellent.
We begin with The Ticket Master. Twilight receives two tickets to the Grand Galloping Gala, a high-class event hosted by the princess herself in the capital city of Canterlot. Unfortunately she has five friends, and they all want to go. So the entire episode features her five friends making arguments to get the ticket, and then doing favours for Twilight to get the extra ticket. I can’t follow this up without spoiling, so now I throw up the tags. Eventually Twilight gets seven tickets to the Gala, which leads to the next episode…
…Suited For Success, where Rarity decides to make each of her friends an elegant new gown for said Gala. This ends up backfiring because all her friends hate–well not hate–dislike the gowns she made. Rarity decides to remake them following her friends directions, and the result is…well…something. This is one of my favourite episodes for the epic musical number. Which is a parody of a song by Stephen Sondheim called Putting it Together, only it’s more epic. Way to get the musical theatre geeks excited!
The Best Night Ever caps off the trilogy with the Gala itself. As the girls spend their time trying to make their dreams come true, they discover things don’t always go as you plan. This episode is one of the best for Fluttershy’s psychological breakdown. What I love is how badly things go for the girls, and how their expectations are what make the Gala a disaster. This is the one episode you should simply not miss.
If there is one downside to the series, it’s the moralizing. Every episode features a moral that some may find condescending. However, I for one appreciate it. I’ve learned quite a bit from the show, and I’m not the only one.
I think it’s great that we have a show that teaches people to be nice to one another, and that manages to hit an audience of internet loners, because they have the most to gain. Okay, we have the most to gain. It’s said in a cheesy way at the end, but if you ignore it, you still get the message from the rest of the episode. I wish more shows did that.
Dear Princess Celestia:
Today I learned that my patients are idiots, and it’s never Lupus…so nothing’s changed.Your Faithful Student
Okay, it probably wouldn’t work.
Here’s the next question you’re probably asking. “If I want to start watching My Little Pony, where can I see it?” Thankfully every episode has been uploaded to YouTube and Hasbro has made very little effort to take them down, which makes sense because they get most of their profits from the toys, not the show. In a way, the show advertises the toys. Who would have thought that would be a good thing!? If you want to watch the show, just take your favourite episode title, search for it in YouTube, and look for the 22 minute clip, otherwise it’ll either be cut up in pieces, or not the full episode. Or to make it easier on you, just check the video below.
That’s my recommendation for those who want to get started. I also made a playlist with every episode, if you want to start a marathon. Now, if you want to “join the herd” as they say, better join quickly, because tomorrow, the season two premiere airs, and as a final note, I’d like to point out it stars John de Lancie as the episode’s big baddie, and is apparently a direct follow-up to the season one premiere. Yes, John de Lancie went from staring on Torchwood last week, to starring on My Little Pony this week. That is so badass! I’m so excited!!!