Our little pony

Written on 17 May, 2020

Having a daughter introduced me to a new world of film and tv. I’ve always enjoyed the big ticket animations (Pixar, Disney) but cartoons aimed at young girls? Shall we say I was a bit sniffy about them; deciding sight-unseen they weren’t for me.

Up near the top of my ‘don’t watch’ list was 80s phenomenon My Little Pony. Based on a girl’s toy? Cynically made? sickly sweet? These were my preconceptions as a young boy. Imagine then, my heart’s reaction the day my girl picked ‘My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’ as her go-to Netflix binge-watching marathon programme.

Most weekends we have breakfast on the sofa watching TV and for the longest time My Little Pony was the only programme we watched. I tried ignoring it but it was there, a constant vision filling the room. So I watched it, and watched a bit more, and a bit more. And then came the end of Season 4.

If you’re not au fait with the Ponies here’s a quick recap of how season 4 ends. A baddie from olden days called Tirok returns to drain ponies of the magic (leaving them in a weakened state) and take over the kingdom. He joins up with baddie-turned-friend Discord (who goes full on evil again). To protect their magic the Alicorn Princesses pass their powers to Twilight Sparkle.

The season’s penultimate episode finishes on a cliffhanger. We sat with bated breath waiting to see what would happen next, but it was bedtime and the adventure would have to wait till the next day. My daughter went to sleep, me and my wife settled in for a traditional parents’ Saturday night on the sofa involving catching up and yawning.

Clare called it a day at 10:30. I sat wondering what channel to flick to. Football highlights? Low-budget science fiction on Prime Video (often the fleapit cinema of online streaming)? Neither. Only one thing occupied my mind — finding out how My Little Pony ended.

I was hooked. This two-parter had everything. A frightening baddie, a turncoat, and people (ponies) dying en-masse (‘being drained of their magic’). It was a horror film for school kids with a suitably nice resolution (though Discord gets off very lightly for his war crimes).

I was wrong about My Little Pony. The ‘Mane Six’ are well-drawn characters, each with their own personality, the world-building has depth, and the overarching message about friendship is an important lesson for us all to recognise. We haven’t watched to the very end yet (Netflix haven’t got the latter seasons) but we will.