Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic”
Fun fact: My mom knows about Bronies. I found this out when I mentioned to her that I was telling you about My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic this week: “That’s the show they like?” she asked, and I said yes. I did not say whether or not I understood why this group of young Internet-savvy men liked the animated rebirth of the franchise, because the honest truth is I don’t, really.
And I say this after having watched the two-part pilot episode of the series, written by now-legendary Lauren Faust and featuring no shortage of charm, adorable ponies, and surprisingly complex backstory. In fact, the plot for this show is so complicated that I’m going to leave the understanding-a-very-strange-subculture stuff for later. Right now, let’s meet some motherfucking ponies!
We open with a detailed trip into the history of Equestria, the magical kingdom where all the ponies live. The ponies are basically people, Frank, to the point where they’ve found unique ways of getting around that whole “we don’t have opposable thumbs or hands for that matter” thing.
Basic deal is that in pony lore, two ponies were Princess Ponies — Princess Celestia ruled over the daylight, and her younger sister Princess Luna ruled over the night. But Princess Luna got pissed off over how everyone would sleep through her reigning times, and thus decided to fuck some shit up. Princess Celestia, who was not down with that, defeated Princess Luna using the Elements of Harmony (whatever those might be don’t worry Frank we find out later) and then Princess Luna got trapped in the moon and was renamed Nightmare Moon for reasons.
This we all learn from Twilight Sparkle, who is reading a book of pony lore and is ostensibly our protagonist. We quickly learn that Twilight Sparkle is essentially a giant nerd — I’m thus pretty kinda on board with Twilight Sparkle, even though she does not think that FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC.
Twilight Sparkle quickly deduces from this book of pony lore that Nightmare Moon is about to come back and cause some post-apocalyptic shit — very specifically two days from now — and writes to Princess Celestia (who I guess in her role as Queen Bitch of Equestria is Twilight’s college professor) to let her know what’s happening.
How does Twilight write with her hooves? They get around that lack-of-an-opposable-thumb thing with Spike, the baby dragon who’s happy to take dictation for Twilight. She uses unicorn-horn telekenesis to read books. It’s a thing.
How does Princess Celestia respond to Twilight Sparkle’s warnings of DOOOOOOOOOOOM? She tells her to go oversee a festival in the hicksville town of (yep) Ponyville and make some friends. Again, yep. But Twilight does as she’s told, albeit very reluctantly.
First, she meets Applejack, who has a Southern accent and appears to be the food-loving pony of the bunch, largely because she has an apple orchard. Twilight gets guilted into a pie-heavy brunch at Applejack’s place, and then heads out to meet Rainbow Dash, a rainbow Pegasus in charge of weather maintenance. Rainbow Dash is kinda the daredevil of the bunch? Her life’s dream is to fly with the Wonderbolts, a group of awesome pegasus flyers. And she can move clouds around. Sure.
Finally, onto setting up the decor for the festival, which is where we meet Rarity. Spike gets a total hard-on for Rarity, who seems nice enough and gives Twilight Sparkle a makeover, which Twilight kinda hates? Twilight’s a bit on edge, after all, because of that whole thing where SHE’S PRETTY SURE THE APOCALYPSE HAPPENS TOMORROW MORNING.
But she promised to keep attending to arrangements for this festival, so Twilight Sparkle flees to meet up with the very shy Fluttershy, who’s in charge of music. Fluttershy thinks Spike is super-cute, which annoys the crap out of Twilight Sparkle because she is not into the whole things-that-are-keeping-me-from-preventing-the-Apocalypse thing.
As a result, Twilight Sparkle totally twat-blocks Fluttershy (FLUTTERSHY LITERALLY SCOOPS HIM UP IN HER ARMS AND TRIES TO TAKE HIM TO BED, FRANK). Normally, I’d call that a dick move, but Twilight’s trying to stop an apocalypse here and Spike’s the only one with thumbs.
When Twilight tries to get some apocalypse research done at the library, though, that’s fucked up by a welcome party for Twilight Sparkle, thrown by the ditzy bouncy Pinky Pie. Twilight bails on the party, but can’t sleep because of the noise — the ponies literally party all night long, gathering for the sunrise, at which point Twilight joins the festivities.
During the dawntime party; reference is made to “gentlecolts” — for the record, we have not yet met a single male pony. So personally, I’m not buying it. (Okay, in episode 3 we do get around to meeting some duders, but STILL.)
Princess Celestia is supposed to show up at the dawn celebration, but instead that bitch Nightmare Moon escapes from the moon to bring forth eternal night. Eternal night: Brougthen! Whoops!
And that’s the end of part 1! Cliffhanger!
Here in Part 2, we now hit the books under the blanket of eternal night, as Twilight continues her research into the Elements of Harmony, with which Nightmare Moon was first defeated. According to a book they find in the library, the Elements of Harmony might be found in the Everfree Forest, which is a dark and scary place.
In investigating said scary forest, the ponies all suddenly topple off a cliff, but the two winged-enabled ponies save the ponies who don’t have wings, and Twilight has an intense moment with Applejack where Applejack encourages her to trust in her fellow ponies — which Twilight does, leading to her salvation.
And then all the trees turn evil, which is scary, until Pinky suggests laughing at the trees with a musical number, and that works out just fine. This is about the point at which I started feeling like I’d been doing drugs.
Frank, just a heads-up: Pinky’s big thing seems to be musical numbers. If that’s an issue for you, steer clear.
By the way, the cliff fall and the paw thorn and the monster trees are all caused by some weird purple smoke, which the ponies figure out when they meet a river dragon who complains about having half his mustache ripped off by “some very tacky purple smoke.” Rarity emphasizes with him, and gives him a bit of her tail to make up for the lack of his mustache — this calms the river monster enough to let them cross.
A fallen bridge is their next obstacle, which Rainbow is happy to fix with her pegasus powers, but then the Shadowbolt flyers (who are the evil version of the good pegasus flying team and are also maybe an illusion created by the weird purple smoke?) try to seduce her into joining their cause? Rainbow is sorely tempted, but sticks with her friends because I don’t know if you heard, Frank, but FRIENDSHIP? IT’S MAGIC.
It’s all very touching, and then at last we get to the Elements of Harmony, hidden in a crumbling castle. Only five are there, though — oh, right, this was explained before — Frank, the sixth necessary element of harmony is supposed to emerge when the other five assemble. Twilight tries an experiment with the elements where she uses her telekinesis to make them swirl around her and the swirl becomes a tornado-portal-vortex which sucks her up!
Once sucked up into the tornado-portal-vortex thing, Twilight is in another chamber with Nightmare Moon, who is all “hahahahah check out my evilness” and shatters the five elements! Oh no!
But Twilight’s companions find Twilight and Nightmare Moon, and Twilight, realizing that she’s happy to see the other ponies (and I don’t know if you’ve been counting, Frank, but Twilight has FIVE companions and so far there are FIVE Elements of Harmony) and she realizes that each of them, based on their actions during their travels through the Everfree Forest, represent one aspect of harmony, and that the sixth element is MAGIC.
Which of course means that as soon as she realizes it, the sixth element appears, accompanied by the sounds of a Vegas slot machine.
And then the crushed elements swirl around each pony and become fancy pony jewelry and also rainbow beams shoot out of them and incapacitate Nightmare Moon.
And then Princess Celestia shows up! Everybody bows. We learn lessons about how we should be friends, because it turns out that Princess Celestia knew that the solution to the Nightmare Moon Apocalypse was for Twilight Sparkle to make some goddamn friends. Again, seriously, not exagerrating.
Then, Princess Celestia and
Nightmare Moon Princess Luna make up, and the ponies have a big pony party! Yay for that. Twilight Sparkle is reassigned by Princess Celestia to study the magic of friendship — not fucking making that up, that’s what happens — and gets to stay in Ponyville and we all live happily ever after for at least three more seasons! Bully.
Here’s one thing I gotta say about this show: For something in theory created to sell plastic ponies to young girls, the plot moves hella fast — I at times could seriously not keep up with my notes on these first two episodes. And that’s a good thing!
Plus, there’s decent banter and strong characterization in play here: I could try to put each of the ponies into blunt restrictive categories (AKA “Leonardo leads/Donatello does machines”), but those categories wouldn’t encapsulate the depth of humanity (for lack of a better word) brought to them by the wriitng and voice acting and whatnot.
Also, it’s fun and silly in a way you don’t necessarily get from television meant for young people; It’s definitely interested in teaching lessons, but it’s also not afraid of tangents and musical numbers and anything else that makes an animated series feel like a real television show, as opposed to a textbook.
I feel like I would have to watch a whole lot more MLP:FIM to properly understand the Brony phenomenon, Frank. But I’m okay with my ignorance on that subject, except for this: I don’t think less of the gentlemen who buy MLP hoodies and go to conventions.
Because to try and judge fandom is to shoot blasts of hared at love, and for some reason, watching MLP:FIM has me convinced that there’s little to no irony to the love these guys have for the show.
And as someone who loved her My Little Ponies, as someone who used them as the characters in the first stories she ever told, I’m in no position to judge. At the time, sure, I was five years old. But age ain’t nothing but a number.
Posted on January 15, 2013, in TV and tagged A+ on the bechdel test, animation, girrrrrrrrl power, Lauren Faust, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Twilight Sparkle, won't somebody please think of the children. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.