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My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic back to reviews
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A Complicated Simple Show
I like dot points.

-This show is excellent and it is not overrated, but what it is is overly defended and overly attacked. It is not the second coming personified in an animated program, and neither is it the death of masculinity. What it is is consistently good in all areas, cute beyond belief and genuinely heartwarming. There are just times in your life when you need this kind of show, or there aren't. That's okay too.

-The fanbase is a magnificent monstrosity, and you don't have to be a net regular to know that. In my opinion it is one of the warmest and friendliest out there, but it is a little intimidating at first glance. Some people don't get over that. Sad but needs to be considered.

-If the characters' genders were flipped, then people would probably complain that MLP:Fi M was oppressively male-dominated. But instead it's all about girls (or mares and fillies), which makes it more palatable - until it starts to bother you that, arguably of course, the overwhelming majority of male characters are either servile to females, fumblingly stupid, totally evil, mute animals, cardboard cliches, or woefully underdeveloped. I'm glad that this show can buck (ha ha) the male-inclined trends of pretty much all fiction forever, but unfortunately, perfection would be a world of palpable gender equality. Simple as that. (however, this might not be the creators' fault)

-Be ready to cringe a little. For all its qualities, this show tends to rely on characters doing incredibly stupid things to move the story along. When your complex favorite character forgets all her (most likely) hard earned past lessons to act impulsively, selfishly or just plain dumb, you will want to complain, because the show deserves better.

-Lastly, MLP's stellar potential is cropped by the fact that it is a kid's show. All the fix fics and fan art on the internet can't change the fact that it can't develop in ways that fans wish it could because it's a cartoon for children intended to sell toys. You may come to deeply, *deeply* love the world and the things that live in it, and it will frustrate you when you realize that the show will probably never give the characters you genuinely care about the experiences and satisfactions we feel they deserve. You will wish they were real, and this *can* mess with your head.

I hope, however, in really good ways. Thanks

Ya know, even on a review as neutral as this one, I still can see a massive shitstorm brewing. But, thanks for trying.
comment #23347 Serefin 2nd Mar 14
I admit that curiosity is one compelling force. We'll see what happens
comment #23350 gingerman 2nd Mar 14
As long as none of the Fan Dumb sees this, you should be fine. And just because it's a show for kids that's meant to sell toys doesn't mean it can't have good, satisfying character arcs. Just look at Beast Wars, or Transformers Animated. They did those things, and kids and adults loved it. The only limitations are the ones created by the writers and executives.
comment #23705 JamesPicard 5th Apr 14
Thanks for the heads up, James. And regarding the limitations, it's exactly the writer/executive board category that I was intending to highlight, but didn't have the space; I can name several really great directions that the creators wanted to pursue, but for semi-obvious reasons were told not to.
comment #23740 gingerman 8th Apr 14
Thanks for the heads up, James. And regarding the limitations, it's exactly the writer/executive board category that I was intending to highlight, but didn't have the space; I can name several really great directions that the creators wanted to pursue, but for semi-obvious reasons were told not to.
comment #23741 gingerman 8th Apr 14
Woah, what happened there? Apologies for the clutter guys...
comment #23742 gingerman 8th Apr 14
Your last point is an interesting one, and something I've thought about before. I feel like one of the biggest gaps between the writers and the fans is that many fans want more in-depth world building, while the writers want to mostly do slice-of-life stories. I know that people were irritated by "Dragon Quest" because they wanted to know more about dragons and their culture. A complaint I've heard about the season 3 finale is that some people were hoping that it would give more information on how cutie marks work, but no such luck.

On the other hand, slice-of-life stories are easier to do, and if the writers did try to develop the world more, fans might not like what they come up with or how they handle it. And if you focus too much on world building, you may end up losing sight of the characters.

There's also something to be said for keeping a consistent tone. While there are some clever stuff in the series, and you do usually get the impression that the people are trying to make an excellent show, it still ultimately feels like it's written with kids in mind. For example, Lauren Faust originally said that she had thought of Scootaloo possibly being disabled, and never being able to fly. I thought that was a nice idea, but I questioned if it was perhaps too serious for the show. Since it doesn't seem likely that it'll ever become canon, I'll never know how well the show would've handled it. For another example, some fans think that Princess Celestia is underdeveloped and has a lot of potential in her backstory. But I think the sad fact is is that most potential plots with her—what it was like to not see her sister for 1'000 years, outliving almost every pony she befriends—are just too dark for the show. The show does occasionally dip into more mature territory, but I don't think Friendship is Magic is well suited for a Cerebus Rollercoaster style.
comment #23746 Austin 9th Apr 14
Quite right. What frustrates me is that it's not impossible for a show to do that; push boundaries and let young and old fans alike think about things, I mean. I know that it's praises are sung left, right and center, and sometimes irrationally, but Avatar's a great example. I mean, this show tackles global conflict, religious tension, ethnic cleansing, racism, war crimes, psychological warfare, psychological trauma, the effect of all this on children, and is actually allowed to mention that characters have the capacity to die. While the second series doesn't measure up, it tries to expand this list further. And yet, as my own family exemplifies it's watched by people ranging from 5 to their late 50's, and no-one bats an eyelid. Not even a little bit. And here you have a cartoon about ponies that brews up political internet hurricanes every other month. Hell, the overwhelming majority of things aimed at kids bring up mortality and other challenging things in one way or another. Why is it so difficult to do the same with this show? Is it because everyone assumes that girls don't like heavier stuff? Here I was thinking that the whole idea was throwing that kind of mentality out the window with MLP.

But yeah, it's pretty unlikely that this show is going to do anything beyond vaguely "nodding" at the less conventional demographics in its marketing material. The Scootaloo example is great; it isn't even okay to explicitly state that she was born much unluckier than everyone else. Anything even remotely morally challenging, or would require too much explaining, is enthusiastically thrown out the window. To be honest, what drew me to the show and kept me there for a while was pure cuteness factor, and how colorful the world and characters were. Beyond that, yeah, keeping really small kids in mind says it all; when an episode just assumes you're a girl and six years old, it's just plain painful, and hypocritical as it obviously is of me, I will never feel completely comfortable with how often grown human beings like us just go on and on and on about Friendships be Magics. Like we're all sitting around a rock - a very nice rock, mind you, amethyst or something - staring at it and waiting for it to transform into a diamond, you know?
comment #23756 gingerman 10th Apr 14
I do think you somewhat overestimate the number of fans who are disappointed at the character's/ the world's general lack of development. Many are perfectly fine with the show in it's current state and the fact that it's ultimately light entertainment.

That being said I do agree with you about how the show feels frustratingly constrained at times, and it seems to be only getting worse with time. In a way it almost seems to want to have it's cake and eat it too. The creative team wants the show to have a sense of "passing time" and continuity, but at the same time it doesn't want to get away from the "small town slice of life comedy" that's been this show's bread and butter, even if it makes increasingly less and less sense.
comment #25272 Mio 19th Jul 14
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