For my daughter (Age 6), nothing much beats cuddling up with her dad on the sofa watching My Little Pony. Most of her previous favourite TV shows left my brain bleeding and numb but, like most dads, I was only there for a snuggle.
Long ago I perfected the art of pretending to be interested in something I wasn’t by nodding occasionally and laughing when she did. (This also works well with mothers and wives…). Where’s the harm? Father and daughter could both enjoy a warm cuddle, she could watch her fave TV and I could ponder the English cricket team’s batting woes in relative peace and quiet. So I barely noticed when she first discovered My Little Pony on Amazon Prime and I didn’t have the energy to block yet another annoying kids toy/TV tie in.
So I’m not exactly sure when My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic began to seep into my consciousness. I think it was probably the mildly amusing wordplay that first caught my attention. Everypony lives in the land of Equestria which is scattered with villages called Poneyville and Canterlot. Not one opportunity is missed to work a horsey word into the land of Equestria. Also, I recognised the voice of Q from Star Trek Next Generation. So it must be good.
Everypony knows that TV programs like this must have a message and Friendship is of course at the heart of MLP’s core values. But once you’ve watched a few episodes, you soon realise its much more clever and subtle than that. Friendship itself, what makes a good friend, and even how to stand up to a friend who’s doing something you don’t want to do are all carefully explored. What they pack into such short episodes can be quite dazzling.
These funny, exciting stories involving colourful talking ponies (and alicorns?) such as Rainbow Dash, Applejack and Twilight Sparkle don’t just cover core ‘life lessons’ about friendship, loyalty and persistence, in fact they go far beyond any other children’s TV in sharing their key messages.
I once even saw one episode dedicated to good business practice! (Aimed at age 3+) . Which my daughter absorbed completely.
In this episode, two slick urban cider makers invent a cider making machine that undercuts the price of the local, traditional hand-made cider. But eventually, the locals see though its poor quality and reject the cheaper, imported alternative. Although I say Ava absorbed this key business lesson, I think she probably just recognised that the mechanised cider was just full of the dreaded ‘bits’!
Boys will watch My Little Pony too, (as long as their friends aren’t around). Older boys who like My Little Pony are called ‘Bronies’. Even grown up boys, like students and dads, can be Bronies. I’m not quite there yet, but I can understand why My Little Pony became such a world wide smash hit.
Although we do now have waaaaay too many Hasbro toys in the house now.