“The world today is filled with so much hate and fighting; it’s nice to be able to relax every weekend with a show that’s positive, sends off a great message, and isn’t trying to attract the adult audience with things like innuendos or other things that a lot of kid shows do today.” These are the words of Emily Tucker, a fan of the animated series, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
These are the thoughts of not only Emily, but other fans of this latest incarnation of the My Little Pony franchise, which dates back to the 1980s.
Friendship is Magic, considered the fourth generation (or G4), of the long-running franchise best known for candy-colored horse toys with brushable manes, debuted on the same day that the Hub Network made its debut on Cable (formerly Discovery Kids). That day was six years ago today, October 10th, 2010. (For my review of the pilot, click here!) The series was created by television for animator and writer, Lauren Faust.
Faust has worked on multiple hits before, all of which to one degree or another, had a fan base beyond that of children. Those included The Powerpuff Girls and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.
A few months after its debut, “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” began to grow in popularity, especially throughout the internet. In addition to its target demographic of young girls, the new show gained an adult audience.
Soon after, they had a name: “Bronies,” a combination of the slang term “bro” and the word “pony.” While a significant segment of “Bronies” were young adult males, as the series finished its first and later began its second season, it continued to gain fans of all types: women, military, young boys, longtime animation fans, and more. (“Pegasisters” is another term used by some of the show’s female fans.)
The series would go on to, and to this day remains, the biggest hit for The Hub network. Beyond the TV audience, around the world, the series is loved by fans. Many of the show’s actors, animators, writers, and musicians regularly communicate and interact with the fans, also appearing at conventions that take place around the world.
As Joshua Campeau, an avid writer of fan fiction based on the series, puts it, “It is a show that proves you’re never too old to like a show aimed at children, as long as it is well written, well thought out, and truly seeks to create something timeless and unforgettable.”
The reasons for the series appealing to teenagers and adults all across the world are given by fans as many: creative animation, catchy music, an upbeat setting, pop culture references, appealing and fleshed-out characters and more. War Horn says, “’You know a show is special when it’s able to steal a smile from kids,teens and adults alike. It has something for everyone ”
Currently, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has aired 140 episodes and sixth season finale airs later this month on what is now known as the Discovery Family Network. The fanbase shows no sign of shrinking, as it airs its sixth season, with a seventh season already confirmed by the network. A wide-release theatrical movie is also being produced for a planned 2017 release.
While to some it is a fun show to enjoy on Saturday mornings, to others, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is life-changing. Cole Waller explains, “Before I became a fan of the show I was very much a cynical and depressed person, this show and fandom behind it actually changed my life for the best.”
Nearly every episode of the show ends with a moral of some kind, with the overarcing message of the series, as the title suggests, being the importance of friendship. TheSlorg, who is a father to a young daughter, says, “My Little Pony changed my life for the better. For once, we have a show that does not rely on toilet humor or drama to capture our attention, but a realistic view on the benefits of friendship and virtue across many different situations. It is a show that people of all ages can enjoy, and I am thankful that this grumpy, middle-aged Aussie gave the show a chance.”
GeminiRenegade provides another example of the influence the colorful cartoon can have, saying, “This show has saved people from the edge of suicide. It’s pulled me and many others out of depression time and time again. It has inspired me to follow my dreams. It’s helped others achieve their goals.”
The series’ success has propelled the franchise to a spinoff series, Equestria Girls, which has had four releases to date, with three specials planned for 2017.