Friday, June 14, 2013

Pleasant Surprises (1/6)

Never underestimate your enemy, or your potential entertainment source.  
Sometimes disappointment will win out, but other times you may find a pleasant surprise lurking where you least expect it.  Here are six works I found waiting just around that proverbial corner.

Ranking of these is not by quality, but rather how unexpected it was that I liked them.
5th place

6. Stop me if you’ve heard this one...
You all know where this is going.
“My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is a great show that’s not just for little girls anymore. An unexpected amount of 18-to-21-year-old men are watching and loving the show.  Blah, blah, blah blah.” - A ridiculous number of legitimate news articles 
I’m not disagreeing.  In fact it was because this thing was creeping around the internet that I decided to take a look.  I knew a guy in college who was enjoying it.  One of my childhood friends was also into the show.  So I tried it.
Each episode was like one of those shortbread cookies that are so sweet and so addictive you just have to eat one more.  Just one more, you promise yourself as your hand comes out of the cookie jar with twelve.
The strength of the show does not lie with the cutesy factor, although a few “D’aww” moments do not hurt.  Rather it comes from the characters.  You will find endless debates about “___ is the best pony!”  Many of the arguments will have a solid foundation.  Almost all the characters, especially the Mane Six, are given both strengths and weaknesses.  Episodes give them chances to explore those strengths or challenges the weaknesses.  While stereotypes can be found within the characters, they don’t adhere completely to them.  A fabulous example is the unicorn Rarity.
Image from 

Rarity was I character I was expecting to be annoyed with.  A fashionista.  A diva.  If she had nails, heaven forbid one that should break.  All points of her character, but not her entirety.  
In terms of fashion she is first and foremost an artist.  There is skill and expertise behind her craft and she works hard at it.  Her profession is her passion.  As a hobby artist/writer myself and daughter of a watercolor artist,  I can relate to Rarity in that.
While overdramatic, Rarity had no lack in smarts or commonsense.  Not the strongest or most athletic of the cast, she has relied on her wits and her knowledge of interpersonal relations to overcome challenges and out-maneuver dangers.  Miss Rarity teaches that a strong female character does not have to be sporting biceps.

- This is not a female character. -
Image from  Episode "Hurricane Fluttershy" 
Lastly, but most importantly, is where her moral core lies.  She dreams of recognition, both as a beauty and as a professional and will take great pains to maintain both.  Eventually, as it is with any good story, her highly-held reputation will meet an adversary known as “doing the right thing.”  It may be instantaneous or it may be journey throughout the episode, but in the end it is always Rarity’s reputation that she will sacrifice.
This show was good enough to take a stereotype that I not only disliked, but actively tried to distance myself from, and showed me that a fashionista can have depths beyond what I had considered and is just as valid an identity as the one I claim for my own.
Let it be also known that Friendship is Magic is not without its moments of epic, and here I do not simply mean “awesome.”  While a good deal of the show, especially the first season, has the general day-to-day worries we come to expect out of a kids show - especially those targeting girls and including some previous pony series - it also has some moments of real stakes.  Life and death come into play.  Multiple times the future of the nation, or even world, is on the brink.  This is a show that respects its target audience enough to not just make it peaceful and loving but gives rhyme, reason, and importance to it.  A peaceful, loving nation and its ponies are important enough to take risks for, both big and small.
- Just one of many battles -
Image from  Episode "A Canterlot Wedding - Part 2"
There is good reason for the popularity of Friendship is Magic, and I'm glad I started watching.

No comments:

Post a Comment