My Little Pony: A Primer

PINKIE PIE

My Little Pony

Pretty much everyone has heard the name My Little Pony. Originally conceived by Hasbro as a toy line targeted at young girls in the 1980s, the ponies soon found themselves in print, television shows and even movies. When most people talk about MLP today, they are referencing the current generation, which began with the T.V. show “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” in 2010. In the past five years, the show has inspired comic books, spin-off series and literally millions of fan fiction stories.

Few brands have been relaunched with as much success as My Little Pony. Fans of the franchise are extremely passionate and seem to speak their own language. Cities across the globe host conferences where people dress up in homemade horse costumes and showcase lavish paintings of their favorite characters. Understandably, the world of Friendship is Magic may look a little intimidating to outsiders, but MLP fans are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

My Little Pony: Friendship Magic

Like other children’s stories that have been rebooted over the decades, the current incarnation of MLP combines elements from the source material with new ideas that fit the times. For example, some of the names from the show, like Rainbow Dash, are borrowed from the previous pony generation, but the characters and stories in Friendship is Magic are original.

Friendship is Magic is set in the country of Equestria. Within Equestria’s boundaries are several other cities including the bustling metropolis of Manehattan, the floating town of Cloudsdale and the majestic capital, Canterlot. Most episodes, however, center around Ponyville, a small village full of working class ponies. What do ponies do for work? For example, Rarity is a fashion designer, Pinkie Pie is a party planner and Rainbow Dash’s job is to move clouds around to control the weather. Every adult pony has a “cutie mark,” which is a symbol on their flank representing their special talent.

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The show’s primary protagonists, affectionately called the “mane six” by fans, are Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Apple Jack and Fluttershy. Each episode usually centers around one of these characters and an interpersonal conflict they are having. Problems are usually solved within twenty minutes, and each episode ends with a moral in the form of the ponies writing a letter to Princess Celestia explaining what they learned about the power of friendship. Other recurring characters include Spike, a baby dragon and assistant to Twilight, and the Cutie Mark Crusaders, a trio of little fillies desperately searching for their purpose in life. The ponies also have animal companions: Pinkie Pie is the surrogate mother of a toothless baby alligator named Gummy.

“My Little Pony: Friendship Magic” is a children’s show in the traditional sense. Every episode contains a catchy musical number, the animation is bright and colorful and the dialogue is family friendly. So why does “Friendship is Magic” appeal to such a wide audience, in particular adult men? For one, the show’s writing is masterful. The characters are relatable and their problems, such as spats with friends and feelings of inadequacy, speak to the human condition (or the pony condition, in this case). Similar to the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings franchises, MLP portrays a massive universe filled with mythical creatures, magic spells and mysterious locations that has titillated the imaginations of amateur artists around the world. While the franchise was created for young girls, the show’s high quality appeals to everyone and has even inspired boys and men to embrace things traditionally considered “girly.” Some male fans are so proud that they adopted the label “brony,” or a “bro” who likes MLP. The universe of MLP is ever expanding, so there is always room for newcomers to experience the magic of friendship.