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Recap / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S2 E23 "Ponyville Confidential"

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Rarity: Everypony, please! She's just a harmless schoolpony engaged in a little idle gossip. You're really making too big a deal out of this.
Twilight Sparkle: But it's all lies! Gabby Gums prints what she wants! She doesn't care whose reputation she destroys!

Written by M.A. Larson

The Cutie Mark Crusaders are inspired to try earning their cutie marks by writing in the school newsletter, the Foal Free Press. Unfortunately, the new editor-in-chief is none other than Diamond Tiara, who wants a newspaper full of "juicy" stories and local gossip. The Crusaders run themselves ragged trying to get stories, but Diamond Tiara isn't impressed with their articles about baby birds, Rarity's new hat, or the history of Ponyville. She throws the Crusaders out and tells them not to return without something she can print.

As luck would have it, the Crusaders and Featherweight (the newspaper's photographer) catch Snips and Snails joined at the hip by a wad of bubble gum. The resulting article, written under the quillpen-name "Gabby Gums", catches the attention of the amused readers. Diamond Tiara demands more stories from Gabby Gums about the secret lives of ponies, but the Crusaders are hard-pressed to come up with anything (other than Snips and Snails getting stuck together again).

Inspiration strikes when Rarity finds Sweetie Belle's copy of the newspaper and gushes about how much her friends would love Gabby Gums' articles. Sweetie Belle convinces her fellow Crusaders to broaden the paper's coverage and start investigating the Ponyville locals for more gossip. The Foal Free Press quickly becomes a hit around Ponyville, even getting sold at the local news stand, while Diamond Tiara relishes the attention the "juicy" stories are bringing in.

At the Spa, the Mane Six discuss the latest Gabby Gums column. Despite Twilight's worry that Gabby Gums' articles are too mean-spirited and invasive, the others brush off her concerns. Even the Crusaders are beginning to get weary of the mud-slinging, but Diamond Tiara starts demanding even nastier articles about the locals of Ponyville. Desperate to get their journalism cutie marks, the Cute Mark Crusaders give in. When they target the Mane Six ("Applejack Asleep on the Job", "Twilight Sparkle: I Was a Canterlot Snob", "Rainbow Dash: Speed Demon or Super Softie?"), the gang decides they need to put a stop to Gabby Gums' harmful rumor-mongering. Rarity still thinks they're blowing things out of proportion... until she reads an article containing excerpts from her diary. Twilight innocently asks if Sweetie Belle would know who Gabby Gums is, since they both work on the school paper — which is all it takes for Rarity to put two and two together. Keeping her suspicions to herself, Rarity loudly insists to her friends that her dear little sister would never associate herself with somepony like Gabby Gums.

Soon after, Rarity finds her diary in Sweete Belle's saddlebag, confirming her suspicions. She proceeds to call her little sister out on the carpet for hurting everypony's feelings with all their gossip. She tells Sweetie Belle that it's an invasion of privacy and proves her point by saying that Sweetie Belle didn't like it when Rarity snooped through her saddlebag. Sweetie Belle revealed that they are only doing it because of how badly they want their cutie marks until Rarity made her realize that trying to earn their cutie marks is not worth the pain and misery they're causing to other ponies.

The Crusaders are ready to call it quits as gossip columnists, but Diamond Tiara refuses to let Gabby Gums end... even if it means blackmailing the Crusaders into digging up more dirt! Desperate to avoid having their own embarrassing candid photos (courtesy of Featherweight) published, the Cutie Mark Crusaders try to find anyone they can interview for the paper. However literally everyone in Ponyville has heard about their secret identity and they all refuse to speak to the Crusaders.

Just as Diamond Tiara is about to follow through with her threat the following morning, the Crusaders burst in with a new story. Diamond Tiara quickly has the staff print it up... too quickly, as it's not a gossip column but "An Open Letter to Ponyville". In it, the Crusaders officially reveal their identity as Gabby Gums, apologize for spreading ugly rumors, and resign from the gossip business.

Once Cheerilee gets the whole story, she strips Diamond Tiara of her position as editor-in-chief in favor of Featherweight, but there's still room at the newspaper for Diamond Tiara... right next to the messy printing press.


  • Adults Are Useless: Most school paper advisers have the final say of what gets printed to avoid lowbrow humor, cruel jokes, and possible libel. Cheerilee hands the reins over to Diamond Tiara and then disappears until the very end of the episode, well after Diamond Tiara's editing demands have gone too far. Lampshaded: Cheerilee admits, at the end, that she let Diamond Tiara have too much authority.
  • An Aesop: Making up rumors and lies about others can hurt their feelings and their reputations.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Applejack does a head-nuzzle with Apple Bloom while accepting the CMC's apology for writing the Gabby Gums column.
  • Alliterative Name: Gabby Gums.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Rarity to Sweetie Belle, when she protests that she just wanted to get her cutie mark:
    Rarity: Do you really think that writing nasty things and making everypony feel horrible is your destiny?
  • Art Evolution: Just like "Lesson Zero" and "Putting Your Hoof Down", this episode pushes the boundaries in animation of the series to a new level, with more expressive faces, more dynamic animation and incredible background sounds.
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption: When Rarity asked Sweetie Belle if gossip is her destiny she sounds like she is about to say no but she is interrupted by Diamond Tiara.
    Rarity: Do you really think that writing nasty things and making everypony feel horrible is your destiny?
    Sweetie Belle: Well, when you put it that way—
    [scene cuts to Foal Free Press]
    Diamond Tiara: No! I won't let you quit!
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Rainbow Dash wanted to have Gabby Gums write about her. She isn't happy with the result when they publish an embarrassing story about her getting a hooficure — "Rainbow Dash: Speed Demon or Super Softy?"
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Big Macintosh, usually a stallion of few words, goes into a furious rant when he's mad at the CMC for printing mean things about him and Applejack in the Gabby Gums column. When he speaks in complete sentences without pausing for breath, you know you've really crossed the line.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Diamond Tiara is about to make good on her blackmail threat if Miss Cheerilee had not intervened in time to fire her.
  • Blackmail: Diamond Tiara uses embarrassing photos of the CMC to keep them from quitting their jobs as Gabby Gums.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • The Gabby Gums column delves into this as the episode progresses. Spike's interview, for instance, is altered to make it sound like he thinks Twilight was a snob, even though he never said anything like that in the interview (which the Crusaders claim was lighter and softer than their usual work). An example is set up for the audience, in which Rainbow's blatantly reluctant and failed hooficure is turned into a suggestion that she's secretly a "big softie".
    • Also, Diamond Tiara saying "You're lucky I'm nice!". Yes Diamond Tiara, you're very nice.
  • Big "WHAT?!": The Mane 6 says this when Spike tells them that Gabby Gums wrote a story about him.
  • Blowing a Raspberry: Diamond Tiara does this to the Cutie Mark Crusaders after she gets her comeuppance.
  • Blush Sticker: All three Crusaders get them, one after another, when they end up in embarrassing situations after their failed attempts at finding stories. Also when Diamond Tiara reveals that she has photos of the incidents.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Applejack steals Big Macintosh's "eeyup's" and "nope's" when she was angry at the Cutie Mark Crusaders.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Diamond Tiara kicking the wall to lower her poster at the beginning and Cheerilee doing it at the end to raise it again.
    • Of course Scootaloo knew where to find the baby birds, she helped to build that nest in the first place!
  • Bubble Pipe: Spike has one in the CMC photo of him.
  • Camera Fiend: Featherweight takes pictures of everypony, up to and including Princess Celestia. He also takes pictures of everything, including trees.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In the beginning, the CMC are caught in embarrassing situations. Featherweight secretly took pictures of them and they are used as blackmail by Diamond Tiara.
  • Class Clowns: Snips and Snails willingly stick chewing gum onto their flanks in the hope of getting another article done on them.
  • Collective Identity: "Gabby Gums" consists of the three Cutie Mark Crusaders.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo use the newspaper for numerous crafts, like packaging and paper boats, when Apple Bloom meant that they should write for the school newspaper.
    • Their later hype over stories might have been fueled by their first victims (Snips and Snails) being dumb (or good-natured) enough to take pride in their humiliating stunt being the headline story.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Covered in Gunge: Whoever works the printing press will end up covered in ink, including Diamond Tiara within seconds of getting the job.
  • Covering Up Your Gray: Mayor Mare's mane and tail are actually pink and she dyes them gray in order to look respectable.
  • Cutting the Knot: How Sweetie Belle gets Rarity to drop her saddlebag while she’s telekinetically holding it and trying to hide it from her. She simply flicks her horn, disrupting the magic.
  • Death Glare: Cheerilee gives Diamond Tiara one once she finds out what she's been up to. Diamond Tiara herself dishes these out often whenever she's displeased.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Diamond Tiara describes herself as the new "editor-in-chief in charge".
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • Fluttershy's "tail extension" and her embarrassment is like being accused of breast augmentation.
    • An editor who finds that the gossip column is more popular than the news, and forces the reporters to stoop to underhanded methods to get the scoop? Calls to mind just about every newspaper scandal ever.
    • Pinkie Pie's reaction to Gabby Gums saying she's obsessed with parties is a lot like someone being forced to confront their alcoholism.
  • Drunk with Power: Diamond Tiara really takes her editing duties very seriously — and resorts to bullying tactics to keep her position.
  • Dye Hard: In-Universe, the scoop on the Mayor reveals that, in a reversal of how people usually do it, she dyes her pink mane grey.
  • Easily Condemned: The residents of Ponyville, especially Apple Bloom's relatives and Sweetie Belle's sister, aren't reluctant at all into ripping into and shunning the Cutie Mark Crusaders after it's revealed that Gabby Gums was them all along.note 
  • Da Editor: Diamond Tiara is the school newspaper editor, complete with a big chair, big desk, gold nameplate, and desk slam. She chews out the CMC for giving her boring stories and demands "something juicy" instead.
  • Embarrassing Old Photo: Granny Smith has a library's worth of them and is happy to show them to Apple Bloom.
  • Et Tu, Brute?:
    • Rarity says this Sweetie Belle after finding out that she stole and published her diary under Gabby Gums.
    • The Crusaders' own friends and family shun them so quickly after finding out that Gabby Gums was really them. They don't even try to come to an understanding on what they did.
  • Even the Dog Is Ashamed: Or rabbit. When the CMC go to Fluttershy's cottage, Angel just slams the door in their face, showing he's just as mad as everypony else.
  • Everybody Knew Already: "Pinkie Pie is an Out-of-Control Party Animal".
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: Everypony but Diamond Tiara.
  • Expressive Ears: Diamond Tiara's ears droop when she's being stripped of her position as newspaper editor at the end of the episode.
  • Failed a Spot Check: When Rarity becomes furious about Gabby Gums reprinting her diary, Twilight suggests asking Sweetie Belle if she knew who was writing the column. They could have just asked the dragon who had already given Gabby Gums an interview.
  • Foil: Diamond Tiara and the CMC both work on the Ponyville Confidential, if in different departments, and both work together to circulate gossip in its columns. But while the CMC come to feel bad about how it affects the ponies and hurts their feelings, Diamond Tiara voices by her own admission that she doesn't care about how other ponies feel as long as she gets more "Gabby Gums".
  • Foreshadowing: Featherweight can be seen right before Rainbow Dash agrees to get a pedicure. Guess who ends up in the gossip column the next day?
  • Gasp!:
    Rarity: Honestly, you ponies have no sense of humor. So she tweaks a few ponies every now and then. [turns page to story on her] Maybe they deserve [gasp] I'LL DESTROY HER!!!
  • Gilligan Cut: The CMC hoofbump, ready to start gathering news. Cut to them bored out of their minds trying to come up with something to write on.
  • Hates Being Touched: Rainbow Dash has a problem with having others touch her hooves. She either really hates the girly hooficure, is phobic about being touched there, or is simply extremely ticklish. "Magic Duel" implies that the last is true.
  • Hitler Cam: Likely a Shout-Out to Citizen Kane.
  • Humiliation Conga: At the end, Diamond Tiara slips and falls on ink and someone takes her picture while everyone laughs at her.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: Rarity uses this fact to make her point.
    Rarity: Gossip can be a very hurtful thing, it is an invasion of privacy. Just like when I snooped through your saddle bag. You didn't like that much, did you?
  • Hypocrite:
    • Reading gossip about other ponies? A-OK. Discovering gossip about you? "I'LL DESTROY HER!" Granted, Rarity reacted this way because she recognized the article came from her own diary, which was a blatant invasion of her own privacy...
    • Only Twilight was against Gabby Gums spreading lies about other ponies until it happened to those other ponies. This is only briefly spotlighted with Rarity. The rest are just out-and-out hypocrites.
    • Rarity scolds Sweetie Belle for snooping in other people's lives, when she snooped in Sweetie Belle's stuff twice before. Though she does acknowledge that when scolding Sweetie Belle.
  • Hypocrite Has a Point: ...Rarity then calls Sweetie Belle out on this, pointed out that she likely didn't like it when she revealed going through her saddlebag for proof. Her Armor-Piercing Question is partly what convinces her and the CMC to have second thoughts. Plus, publishing someone's diary is a far more egregious violation of privacy compared to snooping through someone's backpack to read a newspaper.
    Rarity: Do you really think that writing nasty things and making everypony feel horrible is your destiny?
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Sure, Angel can be a downright jerk to Fluttershy at times, but you can clearly see by the dirty look he gives the CMC (as Fluttershy's flooding her house with tears), that he does care for her, even if it gives off the vibe "No one makes her cry but me."
  • Ignored Epiphany: The CMC realize mid-episode that the gossip they're printing may be hurting everypony's feelings, but still continue doing it anyway because of their desire for their cutie marks.
  • I'll Kill You!: Rarity screams "I'll DESTROY her!" after Gabby Gums publishes an embarrassing article about her in the newspaper.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Played straight with the CMC who don't feel guilty about the public humiliation they've caused until they come to realize it later on. Averted with Diamond Tiara who explicitly does not care about other ponies' feelings.
  • Intrepid Reporter: The CMC become this and start investigating everyone's personal lives. However, they quickly devolve into Paparazzi.
  • Ironic Echo: The CMC give each other an eager hoof bump on starting out their work as Gabby Gums. By the time they start regretting their hurtful stories about other ponies but decide to continue, they give another, but less confident, hoof bump.
  • Karma Houdini: Featherweight doesn't get any flak for the embarrassing photos he took of others. In fact, he gets promoted in the end. Presumably he was Just Following Orders, but the episode never makes that clear... in fact he never seems anything less than cheerful and eager to do his job at any point.
  • Kick the Dog: Diamond Tiara steals Dinky's paper and shoves her hard enough to send her flying off-screen.
  • Kick the Morality Pet: Despite Fluttershy saving their lives in an earlier episode, the CMC still see it fit to humiliate her. It wasn't until the near end in that they realize how mean they were.
  • Lack of Empathy: Diamond Tiara claiming she doesn't care about anyone's feelings but hers.
  • Lampshade Wearing: In the "Pinkie Pie Is an Out-of-Control Party Animal" article. Oddly this is the only time we've seen Pinkie do that.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Diamond Tiara gets struck by this at the end. See Humiliation Conga above.
  • Mean Boss: Diamond Tiara harshly criticizes the CMC's original stories for not being "juicy" enough, does not consider the feelings of Ponyvillians, and blackmails the CMC to keep them from quitting their job.
  • Meaningful Name: Featherweight, who's easily one of the thinnest ponies on the show. He probably had to be light as a feather to sneak around getting those pictures.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The Cutie Mark Crusaders start having this feeling as early as their first round but ignore it. It isn't until they've enraged the entire town that it sinks in just how much they've hurt everypony, whether or not everypony's reactions were justified (especially Rarity's Armor-Piercing Question to Sweetie Belle).
  • Near-Villain Victory: Diamond Tiara comes close to issuing the embarrassing photos of the CMC as retaliation for their quitting — right at the moment Miss Cheerilee intervenes to fire her as editor.
  • Never Say "Die": When Rarity finds out she's in the Foal Free Press, she threatens to destroy Gabby Gums. It's justified here since writing libel about somepony doesn't justify resorting to murder.
  • Noodle Incident: Trixie's secret isn't revealed to the audience.
  • Ocular Gushers:
    • Pinkie Pie when Gabby Gums writes about her being an out of control party animal. She wails that she has a problem.
    • Fluttershy, after Gabby Gums wrote a particularly mean article about her, is flooding her house with tears. Understandably, Angel Bunny slams the door in the face of the CMC when they try to come by to get another story.
  • Oh Me Accents Slipping: Rarity briefly slips into a British accent while first reading the Foal Free Press.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Applejack and Big Macintosh are so upset with the girls that it's Big Mac who delivers a What the Hell, Hero? lecture, and Applejack who limits her responses to "Eeyup" and "Nope". It's the first time he's ever raised his voice to another pony, and man, does it have an effect!
  • Original Position Fallacy: The citizens of Ponyville love Gabby Gums and her column, and never consider the ramifications of unmoderated gossip, until they see themselves in print.
  • Pen Name: Gabby Gums. Ironically, the CMC created the persona not to hide their identity, but because they couldn't fit all their names when signing it.
  • Personal Raincloud: Invoked. Rainbow Dash's revenge on Gabby Gums, justified or not, is to let loose a torrential downpour on them.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Diamond Tiara actually holds off on the teasing she usually dishes out to the CMC this episode, and is even friendly with them when they start providing her with the stories she wants. Sure, she was a smug, amoral Mean Boss, but you have to give her the fact that she was dedicated enough to the editor-in-chief position that she set aside her usual Alpha Bitch tendencies for it.
  • Pretty Boy: Though Featherweight doesn't speak, his unusual character design makes him look very similar to a filly.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Where all the other ponies either shunned the Cutie Mark Crusaders or were so angry they sent the fillies away rather than say something they would regret, Rarity's response (despite her own fury) is to scold Sweetie Belle, use her own actions to make a point about privacy, and make Sweetie Belle question if what she was doing was truly worth her Cutie Mark. This prompted the CMC to stop being Gabby Gums and eventually write their apology letter.
    • Cheerilee at the end, when she demotes Diamond Tiara after realizing the filly went drunk on power.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The CMC get one from Big Mac, of all ponies.
    Big Macintosh: You should be ashamed of yourself, humiliating your sister and me like that! We don't want to talk to any of y'all right now, so take your little gossip column and your embarrassin' photographs and just GO AWAY!
  • Riddle for the Ages: It's never revealed who exposed Gabby Gums' identities to the public.
  • School Newspaper Newshound: The Cutie Mark Crusaders start as this but realize their school alone won't provide enough news.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Defied. Scootaloo considers leaving the press once she learns Diamond Tiara takes over as editor-in-chief, but Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom talk her out of it.
  • Shameful Shrinking: When Twilight reads the "Fluttershy Has Tail Extensions" headline, Fluttershy sinks down behind an inner window sill. She's crying Ocular Gushers when we next hear from her.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: It's not a coincidence that Pinkie Pie is never heard from again after the Sugarcube Corner scene.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The episode's title is a shout out to the 1997 film L.A. Confidential.
    • Gabby Gums has the same initials as another famous blind-item-publishing gossip-monger. They even use the same "XOXO" when signing off in their final letter.
    • Diamond Tiara's management style is straight out of the J. Jonah Jameson school of editorialism.
    • Diamond Tiara has a poster of herself that's put to use in a way that anyone who saw Citizen Kane would recognize.
    • One baby photo of Apple Bloom shows her with a puppy Winona pulling her diaper down, referencing a famous Coppertone ad.
    • Tomboy reluctantly agrees to give a spa treatment a try, only to lose it when someone touches her feet? Toph Bei Fong knows just how you feel, Rainbow Dash.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: "Et tu, Gabby Gums?"
  • Skewed Priorities: While the Cutie Mark Crusaders are being shunned by the entire town over the gossip column, but are still being blackmailed by Diamond Tiara into continuing to write it, they still worry about getting their cutie marks, which should have been the last thing they should have been worrying about in that situation.
  • Slasher Smile: Diamond Tiara when telling the Cutie Mark Crusaders that their next story better be juicy. It doesn't help that she's right up in Apple Bloom's and our faces.
  • Smash Cut:
    Rarity: My sister would never associate with anyone as beastly as Gabby Gums! I resent you even suggesting such a thing, Twilight! Why, she's the most innocent, most lovely— [cut to Rarity finding her diary in Sweetie Belle's saddlebag] MOST EVIL PONY IN EQUESTRIA!
  • Some Kind of Force Field: The Cutie Mark Crusaders experience walking snout-first into an invisible force field (all three of them one by one, because of delayed reactions) when Twilight Sparkle doesn't want them getting into the library.
  • Spinning Paper: A swarm of slanderous headlines.
  • Sticky Situation: As stated by Sweetie Belle: "Snips and Snails and bubble-gum fail."
  • Suddenly Voiced:
    • Truffle Shuffle, Berry Pinch, Cotton Cloudy, and Shady Daze finally get voices, the first two courtesy of Cathy Weseluck.
    • In the Japanese version, Featherweight is heard making a few grunts, whose voice was provided by Izumi Kitta, Rainbow Dash's voice actress.
  • Sweet Tooth: The article on Celestia shows her stuffing her face with cake.
  • Tempting Fate: Rainbow Dash stating that she'd love it if Gabby Gums did a story about her.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behaviour: Diamond Tiara, a young filly about the same age as the CMC, not only commits libel and blackmail, but also all but admits to being an outright sociopath ("Feelings? I don't care about feelings!").
  • Unstoppable Rage: Rarity, after reading a nasty article by "Gabby Gums".
    Rarity: I'LL DESTROY HER!
  • Villainous Breakdown: Upon seeing the CMC's apology letter in an issue of the paper, Diamond Tiara almost immediately goes from smugly satisfied with herself to downright outraged and furious.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Diamond Tiara sounds much older than she is in this episode.
  • The Voiceless:
    • Featherweight never speaks onscreen. It's never said whether he is a mute or whether he just chooses not to talk.
    • For some reason, Fluttershy appears in several scenes as more or less a main character, but never says a word. The only vocalization she makes is sobbing when the Cutie Mark Crusaders confront her in her house. (Bizarrely, Andrea Libman's other character Pinkie Pie does appear with a speaking role, albeit a small one. Andrea must've been busy.)This is not the only time this has happened.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The CMC get a few once their identities are revealed, but special mention goes to Big Macintosh; if the pony of the fewest words gets mad enough to articulately chew you out, you know you've screwed up royally.
  • Wingdinglish: The Foal Free Press has its font written in some sort of unusual Latin gibberish.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: Diamond Tiara wants to avoid "namby-pamby" stories, despite other foals viewing Namby-Pamby as a good editor-in-chief.
  • Worst. Whatever. Ever!:
    Apple Bloom: This is the worst day ever!
    Scootaloo: Oh yeah? Just wait for tomorrow!
  • You Bastard!: In-Universe example. When the CMC post their open letter to Ponyville, apologizing for what they did, the reason they continued with the Gabby Gums columns was because everyone in Ponyville liked to read the gossip. Also a downplayed example in that little emphasis was put on it, the intent of the letter clearly being more to explain the CMC's own actions than try to call out Ponyville.
    "We knew that what we were doing didn't feel quite right, but we ignored the guilt because everypony seemed to want to read what we were writing."
  • Your Little Dismissive Diminutive: Big Macintosh refers to the school newspaper as a "little gossip column" and "embarrassing photographs" when delivering a "The Reason You Suck" Speech at the CMCs.

I'll destroy her!