Look, we’ve been over this. Well, maybe not every last bit. So a quick recap:
I enjoy musical theater. In fact, I’ve been part of several productions of musical theater and to this day have such songs as “Luck Be A Lady Tonight” and “Easy Street” memorized.
I was part of Glee Club in college. Before you ask, no, I find that show unwatchable.
I am a Licensed Massage Technician. Went to school for it and everything, although that was years ago. Does it expire? Don’t know.
My wife has a much bigger problem with the color pink than I do. I don’t love it, but neither do I hate.
I think the idea of a spa day sounds wonderful.
I am… and this is probably the most horrific revelation of all… not particularly turned on by hot lesbian scenes.
Now despite all this, I also have no desire whatsoever to have sex with other men. But if you feel my masculine judgment is suspect based on the above caveats, then I shall not argue. You may want to just move along rather than clicking past the break. Otherwise…
Despite all the froo-froo evidence listed above, if you had told me a few years ago that I would be willingly watching My Little Pony without the benefit of drugs, I would have laughed at you, sir (or madam). I might have once danced around and sung “Put on a Happy Face” in front of audiences, but I still have no patience with the mindlessly saccharine, and from what little I remember of the franchise from the 80s (mostly by way of gag-inducing commercials), there was nothing more mindlessly saccharine. “My Little Pony” made “Rainbow Brite” look positively layered by comparison.
But maybe that’s why this new 2010 series, this “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”, is all the more insidious. It’s like the creators took the brainlessly commercial roots of the property as a challenge. Like SkyNet, My Little Pony has become self-aware, and because of that I can’t pull the plug on it.
I did manage to avoid it for a long time. It was easy, as a combination of my boyhood revulsion and seeing promos like this:
For me, there was nothing in this image that screamed anything but pre-teen, force-fed girl-treacle. I moved along. An entire season of episodes went by, along with a lot of controversy and internet memes I completely missed. Then quite recently, on one of my bored forays into TV Tropes, I ended up stumbling into the show’s entry there after the examples on the Girl Show Ghetto page claimed it had broken free of the mold and was enjoying a substantial following not just of adults, but grown men.
I looked at the featured quote from show creator Lauren Faust:
“I didn’t create this show for little girls, I created it for little girls and their parents —- including male parents. It only stands to reason that adult animation fans without children may like it too.
The belief that boys shouldn’t be interested in girl things is the main reason there’s hardly anything decent for girls in animation — or almost any media for that matter. It’s a backwards, sexist outdated attitude.”
Huh. Well, you can probably guess my stance on boys being interested in “girl” things. So I dig further and find out Lauren Faust was heavily involved in both “The Powerpuff Girls” and “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends”, both of which were fun and often imaginative shows when I would catch the occasional episode. Then I see that, contrary to my expectations, every episode of Season 1 is available on Youtube in HD.
The tropes page declares Faust succeeded beyond her wildest dreams in creating a show that appeals to all ages and both genders. Dawn and I have now watched over 20 episodes so far and I will not disagree. It’s more than a good girl’s cartoon, it’s just a good cartoon, full stop. Cleverly written, well animated, and just plain fun to veg out and watch. It’s not on the level of Avatar: The Last Airbender, partly because Hasbro mandated after the first couple of episodes that the individual shows be watchable in any order (thus destroying the idea of story arc), but this may be a case where executive meddling was a good thing: I’m not so sure Faust’s original concept, which seemed dangerously close to “Sailor Moon on four hooves”, would have been anywhere near as fun.
So here we are with Season 2 just over a week away, eagerly awaited by a huge male fanbase of “Bronies”. There’s a LOT of pony-related fan content out there, but even the official promos have also evolved from the pink nightmare of the beginning, i.e.:
Or this video, also produced by The Hub network in parody of Apple ads:
Lauren Faust voluntarily stepped down as Executive Producer after the end of Season 1, moving to consultant status, so I don’t know where things will go from here. I now know there’s a fan base large enough and rabid enough to even have garnered negative attention from Fox News. I don’t really have any truck with all that. All I know is that so far, the show puts a smile on my face and makes me want to watch the next one. And the next.
I mean, I just watched one where they had Diamond Dogs. That ambush you from behind the trees. That’s a reference a lot of adults won’t get, much less kids, but they worked it in for those who do.
Friendship, bah. Having an all-ages show that manages to be clever without patronizing, or fun without pandering? Now that’s some real magic.