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Why the New My Little Pony Series Is So Popular
The My Little Pony franchise has made its return along with many other series revived from the 1980s. Unlike most of those other series, however, this one seems to be doing particularly well, especially among people outside its target audience. Those on the outside of the phenomenon are baffled by this development, some even a bit scornful or concerned. Despite mainstream merchandising continuing the archetype (and, to be honest, stereotype) by catering only to little girls using images from previous incarnations, this new show is really a horse of a different color, and only those who dare to watch it would know that.
This is not your older sister's My Little Pony. Rather, it is the My Little Pony your older sister would have made up in her head. Lauren Faust, the woman responsible for this reincarnation, reportedly based the episodes (or at least the main plot) around the stories she made up playing with her pony figures as a child. As an adult, she also worked on Craig McCracken shows like The Powerpuff Girls and Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends. If you asked a current MLP fan above the age of twelve, there is a fair chance that they enjoyed one or both of those two programs. While those two shows aired on Cartoon Network, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic airs on a premium cable channel called The Hub, which is owned by the toy company Hasbro. This is probably why most people who have never heard of it are confused when they encounter teenage and adult males who are fans of the show (bronies, as they are called in the fandom). Considering the way it is written, I can assure you there is no cause for dissidence or alarm.
It is quite possibly every fan's dream to see their stories hit the small screen; it is exceedingly rare that it ever happens, though, so that's another reason why this is such a big deal. Not only is Lauren Faust what the fandom calls an ascended fangirl, but she is also fully aware of the fans' reactions to her work and responds in kind. How else would we get a background character who suddenly becomes identified as Derpy over the course of the show and given dialog and a personality to match? Or a character whose flank symbol is an hourglass and is commonly known as Dr. Whooves? Or even a main character named Twilight Sparkle (a jab at Stephanie Meyers' vampire series)? While it's true that pop culture references ended up dominating season two while Faust was working on another pet project of hers (not that season one didn't have its fair share of references), the show went on without any signs of slowing down. A person might as well have been watching Foster's because it's that kind of cartoon antics the new My Little Pony is filled with. With Faust's resume and personal experiences, this should come as no surprise. To have someone who truly knows what they're doing with material they love running the show is such a blessing in the entertainment world.
Although I did not have much interest in the Ponies when I was a little girl (I preferred dinosaurs), I would highly recommend this series to anyone with an open mind who likes cartoons. While it's inherently girly, it was written so that adults and boys could watch too. The success of this show only proves that fresh ideas from the fan base can be just as lucrative as what the parent company comes up with on its own, if not better. When given the chance, new characters can be created and existing ones reinterpreted so that the concept can continue to shine in a more imaginative way than ever before. After all, whole-hearted imitation (such as engaging in derivative works) is the highest and sincerest form of flattery there is, and it deserves to be nurtured rather than stamped out. Just look at the wonderful things that have come from it already, and what may still be to come in the future.