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I'm an at-home dad with two young girls, and this is by far their favourite show. It's also just about the only one I can stand to watch with them (other tolerable aimed-at-youngsters-shows: Imagination Movers, Maggie And The Ferocious Beast, Blue's Clues if it's a Steve episode). In fact it's more than tolerable, it's enjoyable. Don't get me wrong, this is a kid's show aimed squarely at kids, but every so often a little reference or something will slip in—The Big Lebowski is visually referenced in one episode, with The Dude and other characters showing up in pony form as background characters, which was great. As such it's about on the same level as cartoons like Duck Tales and Doug and Animaniacs—they're for kids, but there's stuff in there that adults can appreciate (and the occasional gag that most kids just aren't going to get). The animation style is probably the show's strongest point, it's simple and clean and lovely, but for the occasional fault (wings clipping through cutie marks or copy-and-pasted background characters). Voice work is definitely above average also, although Pinkie Pie grates—surprisingly Rarity doesn't, despite having a somewhat stereotypical haughty voice. Fluttershy gets the best lines and the best delivery out of any character—it's nice to see a soft-spoken character in a cartoon, and the kind of subtle, warm humour her character allows is very welcome. Quality of writing varies, some episodes flow well, others stutter and limp along.
I think MLP's biggest problem is the 'lessons' format—the restriction of having to have a lesson every week really hurts the show, because the characters are strong enough to support much more than that. If the creators of the show had the confidence to tell stories rather than forcing characters into (often out-of-character or artificial) roles I think it could be a truly great cartoon—as it stands there's hardly any character or story development and after a few episodes it all starts to feel shallow and pointless. The characters are good so it's disappointing that they're not allowed room to breathe and to grow, nor given stories that challenge them enough to truly show their strengths and weaknesses.
So, overall it's a good show, great to watch with your kids, but it always leaves me with a lingering feeling of 'this could be better'.
Well, you should know that Hasbro is usually the ones telling the writers what they can and can't do.
You make it clear that you find the show nice, but aren't a fan. You state problems, many that have been pointed out by the fans themselves, in a civil manner and alos include some of the good stuff.
Why can't more non-fans be like you?
I imagine at this point most non-fans are reacting to the fans rather than the show, of which they would be otherwise apathetic.
I have to disagree with what you say about Character Development and it being pointless,...it's not.
The developments may not be every episode epiphanies where they are always changing like shows such Avatar The Last Airbender say.
But they are there,for example Fluttershy has gone from being completely shy,to simply being reluctant to argue. AJ has become much better at accepting different ideas,Pinkie as well.
And the younger fillies have started to really mature.
The lessons are rather forced certainly,but that's just something to take with a grain of salt.
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