Why Do Guys Like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic?

Topic started by Guest_Author on Feb. 9, 2012. Last post by ImmortalSaiyan 2 years, 6 months ago.
Post by Guest_Author (0 posts) See mini bio Level 7
Staff
What exactly is it that makes this show so great?
What exactly is it that makes this show so great?

Since I started writing articles on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, I've seen a variety of reactions. These range from praise and approval to distaste and, for lack of a better word, hate. However, a lot of people simply wonder what makes the show so great. What's the big deal? Why are teenage and adult men watching it? What's the appeal? So I'm here to do my best to answer those questions.

Warning: The following article is lengthy and filled with candy-coloured-cartoon-ponies. You may experience sudden joy, eye-opening or general mouth-smiling, none of which I will apologise for. If you are uninterested in the subject matter, feel free to leave now. Curious? Read on...

Not just for kids?

The lines separating things that are considered "for kids" and "for adults" are blurring more and more all the time. Even within the Whiskey Media family of websites, we have grown men building LEGO space ships and playing collectible toy-based video games. Still, many people can't get past the fact that this show was created for a young, mostly female audience. So how then, on the internet, has it amassed a predominantly male teen to young adult fan base?

Honestly? It's not at all what you'd expect for a "little girl's" cartoon. Think of it as you might think of animated Disney films. Were they primarily made for children? Yes. Can they also be enjoyed by adults? Absolutely. A lot of the confusion and distaste towards Friendship is Magic simply stems from the "My Little Pony" brand in general, which is actually quite understandable. What do you think about when you hear My Little Pony? You think of little girls playing with dolls, two-dimensional characters, and tea parties. That's not what this show is.

The main draw is inarguably the characters. They're different, they're interesting, they don't even always get along... they're actually flawed. At one point or another, each of the main characters basically has a full-on mental breakdown. Considering this is a cartoon all about friendship (which sounds corny as anything, I know) there's plenty of negativity thrown in, to the point where the show actually gets... kind of dark on occasion. Take this clip for example, suggesting the reason Pinkie Pie appears so happy and cheerful on the outside is because on the inside she's actually frightened of everyone laughing at her:

It's actually very easy to relate to the characters; Twilight Sparkle buries herself in her studies and as a result is initially quite anti-social, scoffing at the idea of making friends. Applejack works too hard and is often too proud to let others help her, to the point where she nearly works herself to death. Rainbow Dash can be a show-off and egotistical but deep down she's worried what people will think of her if she isn't the best at everything she does. Rarity... you get the idea. The characters actually have issues, they aren't perfect, and people can relate to that. Regardless of age or gender. It makes the characters much more believable.

Of course if the show was only about character flaws it would actually be pretty depressing, but it helps reel things in. The characters even develop a little over time, understanding and overcoming most of their flaws. Most of the time viewers love the characters for all their little quirks. The show is well-written and the characters are entertaining and in many cases just plain funny.

As for the actual content of the episodes themselves, they're not all tea parties, sleep-overs and pillow fights like you might expect. They actually revolve around the happenings in the ponies' home town and the rest of their world. They have families, friends and responsibilities just like anyone else. It's actually not so different to lots of the "slice-of-life" anime shows out there.

Production Values

Lets not beat around the bush here: this cartoon is fantastically made in just about every aspect. From a visual perspective everything looks colourful, engaging and full of life. It's flash-based, which means it could have ended up looking quite static, bland and lazy. Thankfully the designers and animators give everything buckets of personality, especially regarding the facial expressions of the characters. It actually looks quite similar to Panty & Stocking, though considering that anime was based on things like The Powerpuff Girls, that's actually not a huge surprise (Lauren Faust, the creator of Friendship is Magic, previously worked on The Powerpuff Girls).

What's arguably even better than the visuals is the audio. Especially the voice acting, with talent like Tara Strong (Twilight Sparkle) at the helm--who's extensive voice work can be seen here--it's not hard to see why it's so good. Plenty of cartoons have good voice acting though, but how many of them have fantastic musical numbers like this:

There isn't singing in every episode, which is good because this isn't supposed to be Glee: The Animation, and honestly if they did do a song every week I doubt they could put anywhere near the same amount of effort and care into each song. Not only is the music great, but it's spawned an insane amount of remixes, mash-ups and original music on the internet, like this and this and even this.

Parodies, homages and references

Okay, this is where the show gets "geeky" and lots of this stuff is for the older viewers, or at least, it's appreciated by older viewers in a way that the "target audience" simply won't get. The writers of Friendship is Magic include dozens of references to celebrities, other TV shows, movies... stuff that just flies right over younger heads while still keeping the show entertaining for everyone. Listing them all would make this article a million miles long, but there's a list here you can check out.

Here's my personal favourite. Happen to be a Star Trek fan? This may blow your mind a little: the antagonist for the two-part season 2 opener is a character named Discord - the mischievous spirit of chaos and disharmony. Sound familiar?

Yes. That's the voice of John de Lancie who many of you know as the character "Q" from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager playing... well basically playing Q from Star Trek. To see that in any cartoon is awesome. If you're more of a Star Wars fan, check this out. To read about the I Love Lucy homage and The Music Man homage from recent episodes, check out my articles here and here.

All these references just top off an already very enjoyable cartoon, it's a bonus for the older fans.

Of course there's only so much I can say about a show and what makes it good or bad, so if you've read this far and you're interested, check some episodes out on YouTube. Still not interested? Then perhaps the show just isn't for you and that's fine too, it's not for everyone. Either way, don't let "society" tell you what you can and can't watch. Life's too short for it to matter.

I'll leave you all with a quote I've recently taken a liking to, which you may or may not agree with, but I actually think it's quite profound:

Critics who treat 'adult' as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.

C.S. Lewis

About the Author

Daniel Newton is an Anime Vice moderator and occasional guest writer with a dangerous Wine Gum obsession. Follow his personal and community Twitter feeds: @Daniel_Newton and @AnimeVicers

Post by KingSolomon (66 posts) See mini bio Level 7

Im getting an adventure time vibe off of this...

Post by slowbird (20 posts) See mini bio Level 10

I like it because it's a ray of sunshine and happiness in a shitty and mean world full of badness.

Post by JJWeatherman (8 posts) See mini bio Level 8

This seems to be more of a "Why this show is pretty good" article, than one explaining why guys in particular have found something in it.

Interesting, nonetheless.

I still just don't think it's for me.

(Also: There seems to be quite a few spots where spaces are missing.)

Post by RecSpec (22 posts) See mini bio Level 15

I watched the first two episodes and ended up buying the Powerpuff Girls boxset. Which probably explains why I haven't watched anything since those two episodes.

I enjoyed what I watched, but I just don't feel compelled to watch it.

Post by buhssuht (223 posts) See mini bio Level 19

those remix songs were awesome, especially the first one

Post by AURON570 (570 posts) See mini bio Level 15

Good read, this is the first proper defense of My Little Pony that I've read, so good job! But to me it just looks like another american cartoon, and somehow I don't feel the same commitment to watching american cartoons as anime. Maybe this is a prejudice of mine that I need to change. =\ But after reading this article, I might just give it a chance down the line, haha.

Funny story: in grade 7 or so, one of my (male) classmates kept singing the my little pony song (from the tv ads). I don't know why, it was somewhat annoying... but whenever I see My Little Pony, in addition to thinking of little girls playing with pony dolls, I think of my classmate. I don't think I'll ever be able to erase that from my memory, lol.

Post by finaldasa (46 posts) See mini bio Level 11

As much as I scoff and sigh around MLP I really don't mind it. If it's something someone can find enjoyment in then who am I to say something different? I like plenty of things some people look at oddly or even think I'm crazy over but it's what I like to do and no one can talk be out of it.

I personally haven't watched a full episode of MLP and may one day. Usually my time is already filled with the few shows, podcasts, video games, and whatever else junk that I like and adding MLP for the long term isn't viable currently.

Post by Daniel_Newton (3,226 posts) See mini bio Level 20
Moderator

@KingSolomon: ZombiePie mentioned Adventure Time in my first article, maybe I should check that out.

@JJWeatherman said:

This seems to be more of a "Why this show is pretty good" article, than one explaining why guys in particular have found something in it.

Interesting, nonetheless.

I still just don't think it's for me.

It's definitely more a case of being something that can be enjoyed by anyone rather than guys our age specifically. I think the reason it's caught on with teen and young adult males is mostly because that's probably just how the internet is in general. I imagine most people on youtube and 4chan and message boards are teen and young adult men (still, plenty of women our age enjoy it too, I know at least three off the top of my head.)

Still, lots of the references are definitely thrown in there for us specifically. Like the Star Wars ending. Hell, internet memes are referenced in some episodes. Fair enough if it's still not your thing, nothing is for everyone.

(Also: There seems to be quite a few spots where spaces are missing.)

That's a bi-product of us posting articles vicariously through Perry the Intern unfortunately. Words sometimes squash together when text is copied from a PM into the editor, and I can't edit it.

@RecSpec: I've heard lots of people actually recommend episodes other than the first two for newcomers. I didn't really get into it until a few episodes later. In fact, everyone I know who's into it was like that, enjoying the show more the deeper they dug into it (I do love that it made you buy The Powepuff Girls boxset though, haha.)

Post by Daniel_Newton (3,226 posts) See mini bio Level 20
Moderator

@buhssuht: Here's another one you might like I found today.

@finaldasa: It's good to hear you're open-minded enough to consider giving it a shot sometime duder. Dasa. DasaDuder.

Post by Top8cat (71 posts) See mini bio Level 6

The moment you said "creator of powerpuff girls" it all made sense. I didn't need to read anything else lol.

Post by zaldar (1,264 posts) See mini bio Level 15

The problem is though when the childish goes beyond just liking some of the same things as children and when it, itself can be seen as arrested development. Playing games all the time, arranging your life so that pleasure is the only or most important principle, not desiring to do something worthwhile and important are all childish and are bad.

Show looks interesting and for a kids show quite good. It seems to do many of the things I like in anime good flawed characters, interesting situations, and it doesn't seem to make things simple. This makes it a MUCH better kids show than most but I am not sure if it makes me interested enough to spend what free time I have watching it.

Post by takashichea (12,259 posts) See mini bio Level 25
Online Now
Moderator

Daniel, great job on this insightful article! It's like culture shock to me when I saw My Little Ponies article on Anime Vice. I'm not going to antagonize it. Though, it does stand out in Anime Vice like a pink jewel in a sea of darkness. Some haters outside of Anime Vice think you feminizing the site. I don't think so.

Post by ScarletKittie (131 posts) See mini bio Level 16
It saddens me that there needs to be an article explaining why male teens and adults like the show. It just shows that gender typing is still as prominent as ever. A girl liking MLP? Oh well, that's understandable since it has cute colorful ponies. It doesn't even matter if the woman is 10+, girls automatically like that stuff! But as soon as a boy admits to liking it? He is weird, childish if over 10 and probably gay. I guess in a way it's better to be a girl when talking typing. Most girls nowadays aren't considered odd for liking 'boyish' things like cars and video games. Most boys, however, can't do 'girlish' things like play with dolls without someone putting them down. It's just plain sad.  
 
I hope for the day when every child, boy or girl, can join together and just play. Play any games or watch shows, regardless of the gender typing it was given in the past, without any scorn. And that when they have grown, they can still enjoy these same things and have everyone accept it as normal and good.
 
Uh... yeah. WOO PONIES!
 
@takashichea: Really? If so, I'd like to show them the feminine side of my fist! Okay, just kidding, but that's kinda annoying to hear. Anime Vice shouldn't be all about what guys like. Quick, someone start writing a segment on female targeted manga/anime!
Post by Daniel_Newton (3,226 posts) See mini bio Level 20
Moderator

@Top8cat said:

The moment you said "creator of powerpuff girls" it all made sense. I didn't need to read anything else lol.

I wholeheartedly admit to watching PPG when I was a kid hooked on Cartoon Network all the time. I didn't even think about it as a cartoon for girls back then either, or at least I didn't think of it as "only for girls" so I guess Lauren Faust and her husband Craig McCracken (creator of that show) were working their magic even then. Plus, Tara Strong also voiced Bubbles on that show, so that's pretty cool.

@zaldar said:

The problem is though when the childish goes beyond just liking some of the same things as children and when it, itself can be seen as arrested development. Playing games all the time, arranging your life so that pleasure is the only or most important principle, not desiring to do something worthwhile and important are all childish and are bad.

Can't argue with that, but that's really a much larger problem encompassing all kinds of entertainment media and not just shows like Friendship is Magic specifically. I'd bet almost anything there are more people out there sitting at home playing video games instead of working than there are people sitting at home watching My Little Pony instead of working. It doesn't help when you have Fox News making blanket comparisons like this either, but hey.

Show looks interesting and for a kids show quite good. It seems to do many of the things I like in anime good flawed characters, interesting situations, and it doesn't seem to make things simple. This makes it a MUCH better kids show than most but I am not sure if it makes me interested enough to spend what free time I have watching it.

Yeah exactly. The show includes lots of the stuff you'd expect from anime or TV shows and not so much from a kids cartoon. There's even pretty interesting terminology and mythology and it doesn't really talk down to the audience like some kids shows do.

Post by takashichea (12,259 posts) See mini bio Level 25
Online Now
Moderator

@ScarletKittie:

Yeah, I look forward to a world where people aren't antagonized for what they enjoyed. There are some articles aimed at women and their manga. We just got to make more.

Examples:

Post by RedOwl_1 (4 posts) See mini bio Level 6

I consider this and Tiny Titans the only like I have according to "my age and sex" at least on stereotypes talking. First I was attracted by the art and well the characters (especially Twilight) and stories trapped me, because they really remember you good real life moments

Starting with the first episode that is a perfect example of my "great" social life, then the "Call of the Cutie" that reminded me how I made friends "Sonic Rainboom" is alike what happens when I'm nervous and "Baby Cakes" is like the past 2 years of my life when taking care of my lil sis.

Also "Over a Barrel" shows that someponies doesn't have good tastes on music (Pinkie's song ROCKZ) the references of comics in the episode "The Mysterious Mare Do Well" make my geek side happy and "Read It and Weep" my nerd side.

For finish add extremely cuteness and funny jokes to that and you have instant obsession and a new Brony :D

@Top8cat said:

The moment you said "creator of powerpuff girls" it all made sense. I didn't need to read anything else lol.

Oh yeah Powerpuff Girls = Childhood

Post by Bigheart711 (3,905 posts) See mini bio Level 21

Great job on the article, Newten! To me, I thought it was one of the American cartoons that turned out to be very fun like when I was viewing Regular Show and PPG back when I was a kid.

Post by Kelleth (7,777 posts) See mini bio Level 20
Moderator

Pretty much the same as all of you guys. I watched and love Powerpuff Girls when I was young, which is why I watched it when I first heard of it. And now I love it. :)

Post by Afroman269 (28 posts) See mini bio Level 9

It's very well written and animated. I don't mind the show really because I enjoyed The Powerpuff Girls but there will always be fans of anything that "take it too far" and have to let everyone know how much they love something which is probably the only thing that annoys me about this show. Other than that, MLP is perfectly watchable.

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