Goodbye, Equestria

After nine seasons, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has finally ended. This show had a lengthy history and a tremendous impact on princess culture. It concluded with a flash forward of an adult Princess Twilight Sparkle taking on the role and physical attributes of her mentor, Princess Celestia. The finale taught us that it's still possible to keep in touch with our friends after we get older and go our separate ways, a message that resonates more with the adult fans of the series than it would for its target audience. That makes sense because someone who started watching the series as a child would be a teenager or an adult by the end of its nine-year run. However, Friendship Is Magic has always had a surprisingly large adult fanbase, which is different from earlier incarnations of The My Little Pony franchise that date back the '80s. What is about this version that attracted such a wide and diverse audience?


One reason that 2010 incarnation of My Little Pony stood out so much is due to its extremely talented showrunner, Lauren Faust. Lauren started out working as a writer for Cartoon Network on The PowerPuff Girls. It shows in her writing that she is a huge fan of princesses and animation in general. She puts the characters first and the story second. Each pony from Friendship Is Magic has a distinctive personality that makes them feel like someone we could meet in real life and makes us care about what happens to them. The original My Little Pony series was created just to sell toys, so the personalities of the individual ponies were far less important, causing them to blend into each other with no distinguishing qualities. Friendship Is Magic, on the other hand, was created more for the sake of entertainment. It has a rich world and detailed mythology that grew even bigger with each season. Ever after nine years of episodes, new villains such as Tirek, Queen Chrysalis, Discord, Cozy Glow, and Grogar kept the story fresh and interesting, giving fantasy and animation fans a complex setting to explore.

Lauren Faust placed a lot of focus on princess culture in her version of the show, something that wasn't explored as much in the '80s incarnations. Equestria is a matriarchy ruled by unmarried princesses, giving the show's female viewers a chance to feel empowered. It doesn't discredit the notion of true love either. One of my favorite episodes portrays Twilight Sparkle's big brother, Shining Armor, marrying his true love, Princess Cadence. The show celebrates diversity by demonstrating that there are infinite ways to be a girl and be a princess and that no one type is better than another. At the beginning of the series, Twilight Sparkle is a loner who thinks that she doesn't need friends because the only way to be happy in life is by working hard and following the rules, similar to Princess Tiana from The Princess and the Frog. Over the course of the series, she learns the importance of friendship and uses her bonds with her friends to make herself a better leader. Starlight Glimmer, who becomes a series regular later on, has a similar experience. This shows us that even girls who are cynical and lonely still have the potential to make friends and be princesses.


What I love about My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is that it placed a new perspective on what it means to be a princess. Older fairy tales focus on princesses falling in love and getting married, while the newer ones are usually about them becoming warriors and saving their kingdom. This show took a more novel approach by portraying princesses as mentors, something that was only explored a little in Sofia the First through her ability to summon princesses for advice through her amulet. Though Twilight Sparkle saved Equestria multiple times throughout the course of the show, she trained to become a princess by looking to Celestia for advice on building and maintaining friendships. After she become Princess Twilight Sparkle, she took on the role of a mentor by opening up a school for friendship and training the next generation. This wise and mature demeanor may sound more like that of a queen than a princess, and that is no accident. Lauren Faust revealed in older interviews that she intended for Celestia to be a queen, but Hasbro insisted on making her a princess because girls see queens as evil and princesses as good. Her original intentions shine through anyway with as Equatria's princesses are far more mature than the naive teenagers we're used to seeing in other animated shows and movies.

It is with a heavy heart that we bid farewell to Equestria with its wise princesses, colorful characters, and ancient mythology. This show was by far the best incarnation of My Little Pony. The people behind it were incredibly passionate about making Equestria's inhabitants believable, relatable, and full of heart, and their devotion shines through in every episode with the animation, acting, and storytelling. I've seen rumors about a reboot of My Little Pony planned for the next generation, but I think it will be difficult to compete with this colorful and heartwarming version of the franchise. It's rare for just the right combination of talent to come together at just the right time to create something so unique and unforgettable.

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