With a three-year-old, I’ve had some exposure to what passes for children’s programming these days. Many shows from my childhood in the 80s were barely veiled marketing attempts to introduce kids to the latest character, carefully cross-marketed as a toy available at the nearby department store. It comes as a great surprise to discover that among the latest 80s reboots, “the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” series is a high quality show.
My Little Pony is obviously closely tied to the Hasbro line of toys. When compared to the original television series, the differences are startling. The original show consisted of barely discernable, mostly interchangeable ponies, in relatively lackluster episodes. In the new series, not only are the different ponies visually distinctive, but they have vastly different personalities.
Twilight Sparkle is a bookish “egghead” unicorn, an is insecure about her position with her newfound friends.
Pinkie Pie is the completely random party pony. As often as not seen with a party hat, or fake glasses disguise, ready to pull a prank on someone. She’s a jokester.
Rainbow Dash is a pegasus, and is overconfident, brash, boastful, and insecure about being judged.
Applejack is almost as stubborn as a mule. She is a proud pony, and is no stranger to hard work. She often is in competition with Rainbow Dash.
Fluttershy is another pegasus, like Rainbow Dash, but is completely different in temperament. She is soft spoken, and is afraid of scary things, like falling leaves,.
Rarity is the fashion conscious diva, and is always thinking about her accessories. I’m sure that the Hasbro marketing folks are dreaming of different ways to sell accessory sets for Rarity.
It’s a pretty diverse group, mostly defined by their character flaws. This is the genius of the show. Each episode explores the conflicts which arise from the different ponies. The show presents their various strengths, and shows how they work together to overcome their problems. That’s the key. In a show targeted towards young girls, the show really does focus on interpersonal relationships, with friendship and cooperation key themes.
While the episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic may not be scientifically plausible, it doesn’t do so in a way which grates on the nerves. To understand what I mean by this, try watching several episodes of Little Einsteins. The kids are flying in a freaking rocket ship. That can fly. So why are they always trying to go through various obstacles? You know, the ones they can fly over?
In fact, the episodes of Friendship is Magic are generally clever, and pay homage to television tropes, such as the classic chase scene, as seen in the episode “Bird in the Hoof”.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is a good show for girls, and won’t necessarily drive parents crazy. Well, except perhaps due to the constant replaying of the episodes. Even with repeated viewings however, Pinkie Pie is still very random.