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Look at it. Looks colorful, girly, and saccharine right?
That's because it is.
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a tragic case of a show that has been killed by it's own hype. It's overrated and overhated at the same time. When in reality, nothing in the show warrants the amount of praise or hate it's getting.
Sorry Lauren Faust and Bronies, this show is not a revolutionary society-shaking work of art. Sorry, pony haters this show is not the worst show in the world. It's an all around, average, inoffensive, okay cartoon.
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is simple, girly, cute, corny, lighthearted, cliched, and does nothing groundbreaking as a children's series. What can be appreciated is that the animators and creators know it's a toy commercial about magical talking friendship ponies and TRY to make it entertaining, but Friendship Is Magic falls into all the same pitfalls Lauren Faust claims this show isn't falling into like other My Little Pony predecessors. Saccharine Songs, Corny jokes, One-dimensional archetype characters (Bookworm, Shy, Hyperactive, Proper, Tomboy...), and sappy cliched premises like princesses, love, and rainbows. That doesn't take away from the show necessarily, since it is for a family-friendly and young audience, but what does this show do that other children's media doesn't to warrant such praise?
I'm pretty sure fanatical Bronies reading this will be quick to point out the "depth" of the characters, the Season finales and 2-parters, and use it as justification about how wrong I am for not appreciating this revolutionary work of art of our times, but let be real here. The Villains are very typical too, and they always lose.
I think most of the fan hype surrounding this show is centered on what it COULD be, instead of what it is. We all wish Twilight could have a definable personality. We all wish it wasn't so corny, predictable and cliched. We all wish there was some REAL character development, but that's not what the show is about or what it's going for.
It's a show about colorful ponies who sing songs and talk about Friendship. Nothing more or less. For what it is, it's not bad, but it's not riveting stuff of legends either. It's just a watchable show that can be enjoyed at times. If you sit back, relax, and take it as is, Friendship Is Magic is a lot more enjoyable.
Another review that tries to pass and opinion as a fact.
I'm sorry Mr. Fellow Pony Person Hater, but if you want to fight the good fight you've got to rise above their level. You should be clever enough to put your righteous anger between the lines. Though it must be said they shrug off any sort of criticism, well-formulated or otherwise, like the insane sub-human cult they are, this isn't helping the case.
For the night is dark and full of crazy pony peoples.
You know, I don't even watch the show or care either way.... i stopped after the first episode infact.
But I still don't get how being "girly" is a flaw and being "boyish" isn't. Like, if princesses and rainbows are cliched and sappy, then giant talking hypermasculine robots who turn into cars aren't really much better.
I also don't see what's wrong with being happy and lighthearted. Like, saying that appealing to it's target audience (girls) is a problem is kind of entitled, like "i'm an adult male why isn't this show appealing to me UGH RAINBOWS THEY KILL MY MANLINESS"
Anyway the one main thing i do agree with is that it's not an amzing masterpiece but not a horrible crapfest either.
"This review has been flagged."
If there's one thing I have to agree on, is that the show isn't without its flaws.
For one thing, the writing is VERY inconsistent, which isn't surprising considering that individual episodes are written by completely different writers, each one with its own style, view of the world and perception of individual characters. On top of that, the writers seem to be rarely, if ever, communicating with each other, resulting in situations where the quality of the writing and the representation of the characters can vary between each episode. So sometimes we get episodes like Green Isn't Your Colour or Party Of One, and sometimes we get episodes like The Mysterious Mare Do Well and Spike At Your Service. And as various people have noted, the aesops are a hit and miss, the writers sometimes handling them well, and sometimes completely missing various Unfortunate Implications they created that result in a Broken Aesop.
Another thing is that, mostly due to the above inconsistency, the continuity is nearly non-existent. Consider, for instance, the fact that the main characters have pets - a fact that is only acknowledged when it's relevant to the plot, and the pets seem not to exist at all if the plot doesn't call for them doing something related to it. And that's only one example of the show's "when I feel like it" attitude... This isn't even mentioning the fact that we had at least FOUR episodes dedicated solely to Fluttershy having to learn the EXACT SAME lesson: that she has to stop being such a doormat.
Character development, as noted with the Fluttershy example above, is nearly non-existent as well. I think the biggest development that actually stuck and which I can actually recall is that during the first season, the main characters seemed not to be fully friends and still had various differences that caused conflicts between them: specifically Rainbow Dash - Applejack, and Rarity - Applejack. As the time went on, those characters started getting along much better. And that's pretty much it, I think.
The less is said about the Magical Mystery Cure and everything that happens afterwards, the better.
But the animation, the designs, and the various CONCEPTS behind the presented world are good. Which is why it's best to not take the episodes as 100% canon, and instead cobble together your own canon out of existing pieces, and disregard whatever you think doesn't fit. So yeah, I can see why you mentioned the fans centering around what the show COULD be. Because let's be honest, the show has made so many blunders and poor decisions during its development (Twilicorn, Rainbow Power, destruction of Twilight's library and replacing it with a fucking castle in particular) that at this point, in order for the show to become genuinely great, it would have to be pretty much rebooted, with the same setting, same characters, but also with a set of writers who actually know what they're fucking doing. And with no Hasbro to be constantly breathing over their necks (and throwing Cease&Desist orders left and right).
Review really didn't need to be flagged, there was nothing inflamatory or insulting here. Yeesh, come on guys.
Anyway, you're not wrong, not entirely. Oh, the show is cliched, and the character archetypes are tired, though IMO they have had Character Development to grow beyond those archetypes. And for sure it's cheesy and silly, and yeah, a lot of the horse puns are bad (you sort of grow used to it, but they're still bad). But on the other hand, I think a lot of the humor does work and has gotten stronger, and the songs, if saccharine, are catchy and memorable.
The show is held back by its age bracket. If the intended audience was nudged up a few years, they could begin exploring the deeper and more mature concepts the series has tiptoed around because it isn't child friendly. I think Season 4 was the best season because it was more serialized and widely continued overarching story concepts and character subplots, and they should go further with that. More continuity and plotlines paced over several episodes would allow for stronger storytelling. Season 5 has already spoiled their chance with it, so perhaps Season 6 they'll get over their fears there. The season premieres and finales are the best episodes, but the showrunners should aspire to hold onto the creativity and effort they demonstrate in those episodes for the entire season.
Yeah, the fan works do much more with the show's concepts than the show does - for the same reason, I find the comics preferable to to the show sometimes. The series is at its best when its the characters interacting and playing off each other and going on adventures. When it falls back on really tired moral messages and predictable plots, that's when it gets bad. To this day I hold "Ticket Master" as one of the worst episodes of the franchise because it was plot-by-numbers painful to watch.
To answer your question "what does this show do that other children's media doesn't to warrant such praise?" - it's because yes, it is girly and child-friendly. And it's good. In another review I compared it to Beast Wars and Avatar. Not to say it's as good as them, it isn't, and they're aimed at higher age brackets. But the comparison is that, all three are primarily aimed at kids, but adults can still appreciate them. This in particular, My Little Pony is traditionally seen as a girly franchise, pretty pink ponies to shell out toys. G4 has shown that, yes, it can be based on a toyline for girls, but that doesn't mean it has to suck. It's a girly cartoon, and it can be funny, it can epic, it can be emotional, it can be interesting.
"Girly" doesn't have to be a negative term, and shouldn't be. That's what I find worthy of praise here. A franchise traditionally seen as cutesy girly stuff, can reinvent itself to appeal to both genders, and to adults as well.
"But the animation, the designs, and the various CONCEPTS behind the presented world are good. Which is why it's best to not take the episodes as 100% canon, and instead cobble together your own canon out of existing pieces, and disregard whatever you think doesn't fit."
So Friendship Is Magic is good from a conceptual sense. Good concepts don't make a good show. It's the execution of those concepts are what makes things good. So far, after 101 episodes and two movies, MLP's overall execution is just what it is... average.
So to really enjoy Friendship Is Magic, I have to create my own headcanon from it's universe?
I'm sorry, That doesn't really help the show's case for it's quality. Friendship Is Magic's quality should be good on it's own, not be held up on crutches like fan theories and headcanon.
Like you said, the show is fun and enjoyable, it doesn't suck, but not sucking is enough. It's just average quality.
"But I still don't get how being "girly" is a flaw and being "boyish" isn't. Like, if princesses and rainbows are cliched and sappy, then giant talking hypermasculine robots who turn into cars aren't really much better."
Did I say "girly" was bad" and "boyish" was good? No I didn't.
A Girls' show being "girly" isn't a bad thing.
I mentioned this because for some reason, Bronies, writers, and even Ms. Faust herself have denied this show is not. I've heard it all the time: Prior MLP incarnations like G3 and Tales were horrible and for babies, but Friendship Is Magic is the hardcore version to be enjoyed by everyone. Friendship Is Magic has been hyped to be everything prior My Little Pony incarnations were not, when it's the very same thing Bronies have decried and bashed other MLP generations for. Do I even need to mention Equestria Girls?
It's girly. It's saccharine. It's sweet. It's sappy. It's juvenile. It's adorable. It's cute. Friendship Is Magic is every single last one of those and more. Is it bad? No.
I kinda agree this review didn't deserve to be flagged because unlike another one I checked, this one isn't particularly offensive. I do however have my problem with it. Mainly the fact it considers things like princess and rainbows as "clichés" when really it's part of the franchise and can't be removed. I mean, come on, it's like complaining about Transformers having "cliché" giant robot.
I'd like to chime in and say that I found both the review and ZuTheSkunk's comment to be very insightful. I agree. I think MLP is a fine show, but it's not especially original nor deep. The show is good because it (usually) utilizes its cliches very well.
All of the main characters are perfectly likeable and there are a couple of them that have unexpected nuances to their character, but ultimately, they all slot neatly into common character archtypes. I've heard interesting theories about the characters and why influences their personalities, but those are just theories, and the writers likely don't think as deeply about them as the fanbase does.
I have to agree that continuity is one of the show's weaknesses. I don't think the show needs to pile on layers of continuity, but there's a lot they could do better. The ponies' pets are a great example. I keep forgetting Winona exists. It's one of the reasons the premise of "Tanks for the Memories" didn't work for me. We rarely see Tank, so the idea that being separated from him would be so unbearable for Rainbow Dash was hard to swallow.
I think it's true that a lot of fans focus on what the show could be more than what it is. I think the show's popularity has as much to do with all of the creative fanworks as it does with the show itself. I've often thought that one of the biggest divides between the fandom and the writers is that many fans want more world-building, while the writers mostly want to stick to slice-of-life.
You clearly haven\'t watched that much of the show. The characters do have real personalities. How many \"Cool, arrogant tomboys\" have you seen get more into some book series than the person that introduced it to them? How many genki girls can you say have gone insane with paranoia? How many fashion oriented characters and businesswomen in animation can you say are artists and known for GENEROSITY!? A business woman known for generosity! This is something they really did and it makes for a real and interesting character. Also, the shy and sweet one goes crazy at one point, too. As well as the smart one, who also has her obsession with the princesses and type-5 OCD.
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