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My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic

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My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
Purple and pink rainbow over the words "my LITTLE PONY" with the words "FRiENDSHiP iS MAGiC" underneath
Series' logo for the final three seasons
GenreFantasy[1][2]
Created byLauren Faust
Based onMy Little Pony
by Bonnie Zacherle
Directed by
  • Jayson Thiessen (seasons 1–2, 4–5)
  • James Wootton (seasons 1–3)
  • Jim Miller (seasons 4–5)
  • Denny Lu (seasons 5–9)
  • Tim Stuby (seasons 6–7)
  • Mike Myhre (seasons 7–9)
Voices of
Theme music composerDaniel Ingram
Opening theme"Friendship Is Magic" (performed by Rebecca Shoichet)
Ending theme"Friendship Is Magic" (instrumental)
Composers
Country of origin
  • Canada
  • United States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons9
No. of episodes222 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
  • Lauren Faust (season 1, "The Return of Harmony")
  • Beth Stevenson (season 1)
  • Stephen Davis
  • Kirsten Newlands
  • Blair Peters (seasons 1–2)
  • Chris Bartleman (seasons 1–3)
  • Meghan McCarthy (seasons 3–5, 8)
  • Jayson Thiessen (seasons 4–5)
  • Sarah Wall (seasons 5–9)
  • Asaph Fipke (seasons 6–7)
  • Nicole Dubuc (seasons 8–9)
Producers
  • Devon Cody (seasons 3–9)
  • Sarah Wall (seasons 1–4)
Running time22 minutes[3]
Production companies
DistributorAllspark (Hasbro)
Release
Original networkDiscovery Family[d]
Picture format
Audio format
Original releaseOctober 10, 2010 (2010-10-10) –
October 12, 2019 (2019-10-12)
Chronology
Preceded by
External links
Website

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is an animated fantasy children's television series based on Hasbro's My Little Pony line of toys and animated works and is often referred to by collectors as the fourth generation (also referred to as "G4") of the franchise. The series is animated in flash, and aired on The Hub (which was renamed as Discovery Family on October 13, 2014) from October 10, 2010 to October 12, 2019. Hasbro selected animator Lauren Faust as the creative director and executive producer for the show. Faust sought to challenge the established nature of the existing My Little Pony line, creating more in-depth characters and adventurous settings; she left the series during season 2, to be replaced by Meghan McCarthy as showrunner for the remainder of the series.

The show follows a studious anthropomorphic unicorn (later an alicorn) pony named Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong) as her mentor, Princess Celestia (Nicole Oliver), guides her to learn about friendship in the town of Ponyville. Twilight and her dragon assistant Spike (Cathy Weseluck) become close friends with five other ponies: Applejack (Ashleigh Ball), Rarity (Tabitha St. Germain), Fluttershy (Andrea Libman), Rainbow Dash (Ball), and Pinkie Pie (Libman). Each of the ponies represent a different facet of friendship, and Twilight discovers herself to be a key part of the magical artifacts known as the "Elements of Harmony". The ponies travel on adventures and help others around Equestria while working out problems that arise in their own friendships.

The series became a major commercial success, becoming the highest rated original production in Hub Network's broadcast history and leading to new merchandising opportunities for Hasbro, including books, clothing, collectible trading cards, and comics. Despite the target demographic of young girls, Friendship Is Magic also gained an unexpectedly large following of older viewers in mid-late 2011, mainly young and middle-aged men, who call themselves "bronies". Portions of the show have become part of the remix culture, and have also formed the basis for a variety of internet memes.

A feature-length film adaptation directly based on the TV series, titled My Little Pony: The Movie, was theatrically released on October 6, 2017 in the United States. A spin-off franchise, My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, was launched in 2013. The first two films, Equestria Girls and Rainbow Rocks, were shown in limited theatrical screenings prior to television broadcast and home media release. A spin-off reboot series, titled My Little Pony: Pony Life, premiered on Discovery Family in the United States on November 7, 2020.

Premise

Friendship Is Magic takes place in Equestria, a land populated by ponies including variants of Pegasi and unicorns, along with other creatures. 1000 years before the events of the first episode, Princess Celestia, ruler of Equestria, banished Nightmare Moon, the evil alter ego of her younger sister Princess Luna, to the moon. The central character is Twilight Sparkle, a unicorn sent by Princess Celestia, who is her mentor, to the town of Ponyville to study friendship and report her findings.[4]

Cast and characters

Origin

Hasbro, Inc. has produced several incarnations and lines of toys and entertainment related to the My Little Pony franchise, often labeled by collectors as "generations".[5][6] The animated series My Little Pony Tales which premiered in 1992 was the toy line's most recent television series before Friendship Is Magic, featuring the pony designs of the first toy line.[7][8] It was followed by various direct-to-video releases, which featured later designs up to the third incarnation of the franchise.[9] Just as Michael Bay's film had helped to boost the new Transformers toy line, Hasbro wanted to retool the My Little Pony franchise and update it to better suit the current demographic and taste of young girls.[3] According to Margaret Loesch, CEO of Hub Network, revisiting properties that had worked in the past was an important programming decision, influenced to an extent by the opinions of the network's programming executives, a number of whom were once fans of such shows.[10] Senior Vice President Linda Steiner also stated that they "intended to have the show appeal to a larger demographic", with the concept of "co-viewing" of parents with their children being a central theme of the Hub Network's programming.[11] Central themes that Hasbro sought for the show included friendships and working together, factors they determined from market research in how girls played with their toys.[12]

Lauren Faust at the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con.
Lauren Faust, developer and initial showrunner of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.

Animator and writer Lauren Faust approached Hasbro, seeking to develop her girls' toys property "Galaxy Girls" into an animated series.[13] Faust, who had previously worked on Cartoon Network's The Powerpuff Girls and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, had been pitching original animation aimed at girls for years, but had always been rejected by studios and networks because cartoons for girls were considered unsuccessful.[14] When she pitched to Lisa Licht of Hasbro Studios, Licht showed Faust one of their recent My Little Pony animated works, Princess Promenade, "completely on the fly". Licht considered that Faust's style was well suited to that line, and asked her to consider "some ideas where to take a new version of the franchise".[3][13]

Faust was initially hired by Hasbro to create a pitch bible for the show, allowing her to get additional help with conceptualization.[3] Faust said she was "extremely skeptical" about taking the job at first because she had always found shows based on girls' toys to be boring and unrelatable.[14] My Little Pony was one of her favorite childhood toys,[13] but she was disappointed that her imagination at the time was nothing like the animated shows, in which the characters, according to Faust, "just had endless tea parties, giggled over nothing and defeated villains by either sharing with them or crying". With the chance to work on My Little Pony, she hoped to prove that "cartoons for girls don't have to be a puddle of smooshy, cutesy-wootsy, goody-two-shoeness" like the original series.[14] To do this, she incorporated into the design of the characters and the show many elements that contradicted idealized stereotypes of girls, such as diverse personalities, the message that friends can be different and can get into arguments but still be friends, and the idea that girls should not be limited by what others say they can or cannot do.[14] Elements of the characters' personalities and the show's settings were based on her own childhood imagination of the ponies' adventures, in part inspired by the animated shows that her brothers would watch while growing up, such as Transformers and G.I. Joe;[15] she considered that she was making Friendship Is Magic "for me as an eight-year-old".[16] Faust still aimed for the characters to be "relatable" characters, using stereotypical "icons of girliness" (such as the waif or the bookworm) in order to broaden the appeal of the characters for the young female audience.[17]

Faust stated that as she provided Hasbro with more of her ideas for the show, she was inspired by their positive response to the non-traditional elements. Faust had initially pitched the show to include "adventure stories" in a similar proportion to "relationship stories", but recognizing the younger target audience, as well as the difficulty of basing complex plots on the adventure elements, she trimmed back this content, focusing more on exchanges between the characters. By the time the show was approved, Faust had developed three full scripts for the series.[3]

Faust began to work out concept sketches, several of which appeared on her DeviantArt page, including ponies from the original series (Twilight, Applejack, Firefly, Surprise, Posey and Sparkler), which later provided the core for the main cast of the show.[18][19] Hasbro approved the show with Faust as Executive Producer[20] and asked her to complete the pitch bible. In order to do so, Faust brought in Martin Ansolabehere and Paul Rudish, who had worked on other animated shows with her. Faust credits Rudish for the inspiration of the pegasus ponies controlling the weather in Equestria, as well as the character of Nightmare Moon during this period. Faust also consulted Craig McCracken, her husband and also an animator and creator of The Powerpuff Girls and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. After seeing the initial version of the pitch bible, Hasbro requested more character designs from Faust's team; subsequently, Faust brought aboard Dave Dunnet and Lynne Naylor to further refine the background and character styles.[3]

On completion of the pitch bible, Hasbro and Faust began looking at studios for the animation. Studio B Productions (renamed to DHX Media on September 8, 2010, after its parent company, along with DHX's other subsidiaries[21]) had previously worked on Macromedia Flash-based animations and on shows that featured a large number of animals, and Faust felt they would be a good selection. Studio B requested that Jayson Thiessen be the director, a choice Faust agreed with. She, Thiessen, and James Wootton led the completion of a two-minute short to pitch the final product to Hasbro, resulting in the company's sanctioning the full production. Faust estimates that from being initially asked to develop the show until this point took roughly one year.[3]

Production

The show is developed at Hasbro Studios in Los Angeles, where most of the writing staff is located, and at DHX Media Vancouver in Vancouver, British Columbia, for the animation work and most of the voice acting.

Writing, storyboards and animation

A sample storyboard from the episode "Call of the Cutie" boarded by Sabrina Alberghetti, containing rough sketches of the main characters, rendered backgrounds to establish settings, and instructions for the Flash animators, such as the panning shot shown in the second panel.

Faust's initial writing staff at Hasbro Studios included several writers who had worked with her on her previous shows and were approved by Hasbro. These included Amy Keating Rogers, Cindy Morrow, Meghan McCarthy, Chris Savino, Charlotte Fullerton, M.A. Larson, and Dave Polsky. The writing process began with Faust and Renzetti coming up with broad plots for each show. The two then held a brainstorming session with each episode's writer, allowing the writer to script out scenes and dialogue. Faust and Renzetti then worked with the writer to finalize the scripts and assign some basic storyboard instructions. Hasbro was involved throughout this process and laid down some of the concepts to be incorporated into the show. Examples of Hasbro's influence include having Celestia be a princess rather than a queen, making one of the ponies focused on fashion, and portraying toy sets in relevant places within the story, such as Rarity's boutique.[3][14] In some cases, Hasbro requested that the show include a setting, but allowed Faust and her team to create its visual style, and Hasbro then based the toy set on it; an example is the Ponyville schoolhouse. Faust also had to write to the E/I (educational and informational) standards that Hasbro required of the show, making the crafting of some of the situations she would have normally done on other animated shows more difficult; for example, Faust cited having one character call another an "egghead" as "treading a very delicate line", and having one character cheat in a competition as "worrisome to some".[3] Each episode also generally includes a moral or life lesson, but these were chosen to "cross a broad spectrum of personal experiences", and not just to suit children.[11] Because intellectual property issues had caused Hasbro to lose some of the rights on the original pony names, the show includes a mix of original characters from the toy line and new characters developed for the show.[13]

Jayson Thiessen, supervising director (left), and Shaun Scotellaro ("Sethisto"), the founder of the fansite Equestria Daily, at BroNYCon 2011

Completed scripts were sent to Studio B for pre-production and animation using Macromedia Flash Professional 8. Thiessen's production team was also allowed to select key personnel subject to Hasbro's approval; one of those selected was art director Ridd Sorensen. The Studio B team storyboarded the provided scripts, incorporating any direction and sometimes managing to create scenes that the writers had believed impossible to show in animation. The animators then prepared the key character poses, layout, background art, and other main elements, and send these versions back to the production team in Los Angeles for review by Hasbro and suggestions from the writers. Thiessen credited much of the technical expertise in the show to Wooton, who created Flash programs to optimize the placement and posing of the pony characters and other elements, simplifying and economizing on the amount of work needed from the other animators.[22] For example, the ponies' manes and tails are generally fixed shapes, animated by bending and stretching them in curves in three dimensions and giving them a sense of movement without the high cost of individual animated hairs.[13] The storyboard artists and animators also need to fill in background characters for otherwise scripted scenes as to populate the world. According to writer Meghan McCarthy, many of the small nods to the fandom, pop culture references, or other easter eggs were added at this point by the studio.[23] Once the pre-production work was approved and completed, the episode was then animated. Though Studio B performed the initial animation work, the final steps were passed to Top Draw Animation in the Philippines, an animation studio that Studio B had worked with in the later part of season one and beyond.[24][25]

Before the show was approved, Hasbro and Faust had planned for episodes to be 11 minutes long, to which Faust conformed in her first full-length script, "The Ticket Master", which was part of the pitch bible. However, Faust preferred more traditional 22-minute episodes, and Hasbro eventually agreed to this. The initial production stages were very tight, requiring a schedule twice as fast as Faust had previously experienced, and frequent remote communication between the Los Angeles writing offices and the animation studio in Vancouver. At times, the two teams held "writer's summits" to propose new ideas for characters and situations, at which the animation team provided suggestions on visuals, body language, and characterization. Faust estimates that the time to complete one episode was one year; at one point, the team was simultaneously working on various stages of all 26 episodes of the first season, and when the second season was approved, that number rose temporarily to 32. Episodes then aired about a month after completion.[3] Thiessen explained that they had pushed to start work on the second season as soon as the first was completed, to prevent staff turnover.[22]

Casting

The voice casting and production is handled by Voicebox Productions,[26] with Terry Klassen as the series' voice director. Faust, Thiessen, and others participated in selecting voice actors, and Hasbro gave final approval.[3] Tara Strong was given the role of Twilight Sparkle after Faust, who had previously worked with her on The Powerpuff Girls, asked her to help pitch My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic by voicing Twilight, Pinkie Pie and "Applejack or Rainbow Dash". After Faust heard Strong as Twilight, she knew she wanted her to voice the role.[27] The voice work is performed prior to the animation, with the animators in the room to help provide direction; according to Libman, this allows herself and the other actors to play the character without certain limitations. Libman noted that for recording her lines as the hyperactive Pinkie Pie, "I learned that I can go as over the top as I want and they [the animators] rarely pull me back."[28]

Music

Daniel Ingram at Everfree Northwest 2012
Daniel Ingram composed the series' songs.

The series' background music is composed by William Kevin Anderson, and Daniel Ingram composes the songs,[29][30] which are only included if they make sense in the episode's script. The production team identifies specific parts of the episode where they want music cues, allowing Anderson to create appropriate music for each.[3] Ingram works alongside Anderson's compositions to create vocal songs that mesh with the background music while filling out the show's fantasy setting.[31] The composition of the music and songs far precedes the broadcast of the episode; for example, songs for the show's third season that began airing in November 2012 were composed in 2011.[31] Ingram considered that songs from previous shows of My Little Pony were "a little bit dated" and decided to bring more interesting work to the Friendship Is Magic series.[32] Such changes include making songs with more emotional depth than typical for children's animation, and tending to write songs that can be enjoyed musically outside of the context of the episode.[32] Ingram's songs have become "bigger and more epic, more Broadway and more cinematic over time"[30] with Hasbro blessing the effort to try "something groundbreaking for daytime television", according to Ingram.[31] Lyrics and overall musical themes may be suggested by the writers; two examples include songs written by Amy Keating Rogers, who is a self-professed Stephen Sondheim fan.[33] The song "The Art of the Dress" in the first-season episode "Suited for Success" is inspired by "Putting it Together" from the musical Sunday in the Park with George, while the season one finale's song, "At The Gala", is based on Sondheim's Into the Woods.[30][34][35] A large musical number in the episode "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000" paid homage to the song "Ya Got Trouble" from Meredith Willson's musical, The Music Man.[30][36]

Lauren Faust's departure from the show

After the airing of the first season's finale, Faust announced that she had left the show, and would be credited in the future as Consulting Producer. Her involvement in the second season consists mainly of story conception and scripts, and the involvement ceased after the second season. Despite leaving, she had high hopes for the staff members, stating that "the gaps I have left are being filled by the same amazing artists, writers, and directors who brought you Season 1. I'm certain the show will be as entertaining as ever".[37] In an interview with New York Magazine, Faust stated her reasons for leaving were a combination of a hectic production schedules and a lack of creative control she had with the series.[38] According to her husband McCracken, Faust's departure was due to the fact that as a toy company-driven show, "there were things she wanted to do with that series that she just wasn't able to do", and that there is "still some frustration with" not being able to bring some of her ideas to screen.[39]

Themes

The show places emphasis on the importance and impact of friendship. At the end of episodes, Twilight writes letters to Princess Celestia in what she has learnt about the magic of friendship. The series' primary message is that different personalities are able to get along.[40][41] Faust was intent on giving the characters diverse personalities.[14] The Federalist noted the "moral wisdom" and felt that the show's presentation of different personalities getting along was much more mature than "adult" shows.[41]

Messages Faust wanted the show to include were that there were many ways to be a girl and they could have different personalities, ambitions, talents, strengths and flaws; find your self-identity and follow your dreams and ambitions, no matter what anybody else says though be aware of others' feelings but not with the price of one's own dreams and goals; one can be very different from their friends and when they disagree, it does not mean a friendship has to end; and girls are able to understand complexity.[14] The show incorporates episodic creatures intended to be frightening to children, such as dragons and hydras, but it places more emphasis on the friendships among the characters, displayed with a comedic tone.[3]

The series features continuity and overall story arcs,[42][43] with several key elements of the series changing; one such change is the evolution of Twilight herself, who spends the first three seasons learning about friendship and is subsequently granted wings by Celestia to become an alicorn and a princess in the season 3 finale "Magical Mystery Cure".[44] In particular, the fourth season had an overarching theme in which the characters collected keys to a locked box, which was found in "Princess Twilight Sparkle", throughout the season and opened it in "Twilight's Kingdom".[1]

Analogues

Megan Crouse of Den of Geek compared Friendship Is Magic to multiple works of fantasy including The Lord of the Rings, A Song of Fire and Ice, The Sword in the Stone, Harry Potter, and The Chronicles of Narnia. She compared the windigos, creatures causing magical winters using ponies' disharmony, to The Chronicles of Narnia and A Song of Ice and Fire. In terms of the characters, she compared Twilight to King Arthur since she was mostly raised by a magical mentor and was not aware she was destine for royalty until she became a royal; Pinkie Pie to Pippin Took and Merry Brandybuck from The Lord of the Rings as they were jokesters and sometimes had to take on her own serious responsibility; Applejack to Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings for their loyalty, down-to-earthness and both being farmers; and Rainbow Dash to Aragorn or Conan the Barbarian. Like Wart from The Sword in the Stone and Belgarion in The Belgariad, Twilight begins her journey as a child, has regular lessons with her mentor, and finds it challenging making friends. The chest in the fourth season was compared to the Holy Grail in Le Morte d'Arthur and the items to the Horcruxes in Harry Potter.[1]

Episodes

In total, 222 episodes have been produced and broadcast.

Series overview

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast airedNetwork
126October 10, 2010 (2010-10-10)May 6, 2011 (2011-05-06)The Hub/Hub Network
226September 17, 2011 (2011-09-17)April 21, 2012 (2012-04-21)
313November 10, 2012 (2012-11-10)February 16, 2013 (2013-02-16)
426November 23, 2013 (2013-11-23)May 10, 2014 (2014-05-10)
526April 4, 2015 (2015-04-04)November 28, 2015 (2015-11-28)Discovery Family
626March 26, 2016 (2016-03-26)October 22, 2016 (2016-10-22)
726April 15, 2017 (2017-04-15)October 28, 2017 (2017-10-28)
FilmOctober 6, 2017 (2017-10-06)N/A
826March 24, 2018 (2018-03-24)October 13, 2018 (2018-10-13)Discovery Family
Holiday SpecialOctober 27, 2018 (2018-10-27)
926April 6, 2019 (2019-04-06)October 12, 2019 (2019-10-12)
SpecialJune 29, 2019 (2019-06-29)

Distribution

United States

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was one of several animated shows used to premiere The Hub, a retooling of the Discovery Kids channel of Discovery Communications in United States markets. The block of programming is a joint development of Hasbro and Discovery, designed to compete with similar family-friendly programming blocks on other networks such as the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon.[45] The first episode of Friendship Is Magic premiered on the first Hub broadcast, on October 10, 2010.[45] In March 2011, the show was renewed for a second season to air in 2011–12.[46][47] The season two premiere on September 17, 2011,[48] had 339,000 viewers,[49] and Hasbro reported that the second-season finale, "A Canterlot Wedding", produced the best ratings of the history of the network in its core and other demographics, with an estimated 1,032,400 viewers.[50] The series is targeted at girls 4–7 years old.[51]

International

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has been distributed to international markets, including Treehouse TV for the English-speaking audience in Canada, Boomerang in the United Kingdom until 2012 and on Tiny Pop and Pop, two British free-to-air children's television channels owned and operated by Sony Pictures Television, from September 2013,[52] Okto in Singapore,[53] Cartoon Network and later Boomerang with Eleven airing repeats in Australia and TV2 in New Zealand,[54] ntv7 and Astro Ceria in Malaysia, Tooniverse in South Korea, and TV Tokyo (seasons 1–2) in Japan. Some of these international broadcasts, including language translations, were arranged with Turner Broadcasting System, which had broadcast Friendship Is Magic and other Hasbro shows on many of their European and Middle Eastern channels.[55] The Japanese broadcast of the show has two audio tracks: the original English-language audio track (available via SAP) and a Japanese-language audio track. According to Hasbro Studio's CEO Stephen Davis, they have marketed the show to over 180 territories around the world.[56]

Home media

In the United States, episodes of Friendship Is Magic are available for digital download through the iTunes Store.[57] Along with several other Hasbro properties, the show's episodes were added to the Netflix video streaming service on April 1, 2012.[58] A two-episode DVD, "Celebration at Canterlot", was offered to Target stores as an exclusive, packaged with certain toys from the franchise.[59]

Shout! Factory has the DVD publishing rights for the series within Region 1. Fifteen five-episode DVDs and three six-episode DVDs have been released to date. The first six seasons of the series have been released in complete DVD box sets.[60][61][62] United Kingdom-based Clear Vision has the publishing rights for the first two seasons throughout Region 2, including most of Western Europe and the Middle East;[63] however, the company abruptly entered administration in December 2013,[64] and has managed to only release three My Little Pony DVD volume sets as of April 2014 by August 2014. Another Region 2 distributor known as Primal Screen had since taken over the license from Clear Vision. Madman Entertainment has the license for publishing the series via DVDs and digital downloads in Region 4[65] but since Season 4, Beyond Home Entertainment took over the license.

Title Region 1 Release Date Episodes Additional Features
The Friendship Express[59][66] February 28, 2012
  • "Friendship Is Magic" (season 1, episodes 1 and 2)
  • "Over a Barrel" (season 1, episode 21)
  • "Hearth's Warming Eve" (season 2, episode 11)
  • "The Last Roundup" (season 2, episode 14)
  • Biographical sketches of main characters
  • Karaoke sing-along (Full two-minute theme song)
  • Pound Puppies episode ("The Yipper Caper", S1E1)
  • Coloring pages
Royal Pony Wedding[67] August 7, 2012
  • Extended "Love Is in Bloom" sing-along
  • "The Perfect Stallion" sing-along
  • Printable coloring sheets
Adventures in the Crystal Empire[60] December 4, 2012
  • "The Crystal Empire" (season 3, episodes 1 and 2)
  • "It's About Time" (season 2, episode 20)
  • "Luna Eclipsed" (season 2, episode 4)
  • "Sonic Rainboom" (season 1, episode 16)
  • Sing-along ("The Ballad of the Crystal Empire")
  • Coloring Sheet[68]
Season 1 DVD set[69] December 4, 2012 All Season 1 episodes
  • Sing-along song videos (Extended theme song and "At the Gala")
  • Printable coloring sheets
  • Audio commentaries with cast and crew ("Friendship Is Magic", "Winter Wrap Up", "Suited for Success", "The Show Stoppers", "The Best Night Ever")
Pinkie Pie Party[70] January 29, 2013
  • "Feeling Pinkie Keen" (season 1, episode 15)
  • "Party of One" (season 1, episode 25)
  • "Baby Cakes" (season 2, episode 13)
  • "A Friend in Deed" (season 2, episode 18)
  • "Too Many Pinkie Pies" (season 3, episode 3)
  • Sing-along ("Smile Song (Smile, Smile, Smile)")
  • Party activity kit
Princess Twilight Sparkle[71] April 30, 2013
  • "Magical Mystery Cure" (season 3, episode 13)
  • "Games Ponies Play" (season 3, episode 12)
  • "Magic Duel" (season 3, episode 5)
  • "MMMystery on the Friendship Express" (season 2, episode 24)
  • "Lesson Zero" (season 2, episode 3)
  • Sing-along ("A True, True Friend")
  • Coloring sheet
Season 2 DVD set[61] May 14, 2013 All Season 2 episodes
  • Live stage reading from the My Little Pony Project 2012 event
  • Recording of the 2012 San Diego Comic Con Pony Panel
  • Sing-alongs ("The Perfect Stallion", "Love Is in Bloom", "Smile Song", and "Becoming Popular")
  • Printable coloring sheets
A Pony for Every Season[72] November 19, 2013
  • "Look Before You Sleep" (season 1, episode 8)
  • "Winter Wrap Up" (season 1, episode 11)
  • "Too Many Pinkie Pies" (season 3, episode 3)
  • "Wonderbolts Academy" (season 3, episode 7)
  • "Apple Family Reunion" (season 3, episode 8)
  • "Keep Calm and Flutter On" (season 3, episode 10)
N/A
Season 3 DVD set[73] February 4, 2014 All Season 3 episodes
  • Recording of the 2013 San Diego Comic Con Pony Panel
  • Sing-alongs ("The Ballad of the Crystal Empire" and "A True, True Friend")
A Dash of Awesome[74] March 25, 2014
  • "May the Best Pet Win!" (season 2, episode 7)
  • "The Mysterious Mare Do Well" (season 2, episode 8)
  • "Read It and Weep" (season 2, episode 16)
  • "Daring Don't" (season 4, episode 4)
  • "Rainbow Falls" (season 4, episode 10)
N/A
The Keys of Friendship[75] July 29, 2014
  • "Rarity Takes Manehattan" (season 4, episode 8)
  • "Pinkie Apple Pie" (season 4, episode 9)
  • "It Ain't Easy Being Breezies" (season 4, episode 16)
  • "Twilight's Kingdom" (season 4, episodes 25 and 26)
N/A
Spooktacular Pony Tales[76] September 9, 2014
  • "Boast Busters" (season 1, episode 6)
  • "Stare Master" (season 1, episode 17)
  • "Luna Eclipsed" (season 2, episode 4)
  • "Sleepless in Ponyville" (season 3, episode 6)
  • "Castle Mane-ia" (season 4, episode 3)
  • "Bats!" (season 4, episode 7)
N/A
Season 4 DVD set[77] December 2, 2014 All Season 4 episodes
  • Recording of the 2014 San Diego Comic Con Pony Panel
  • Sing-alongs ("Bats" and "Let the Rainbow Remind You")
Adventures of the Cutie Mark Crusaders[78] February 24, 2015
  • "The Cutie Mark Chronicles" (season 1, episode 23)
  • "The Cutie Pox" (season 2, episode 6)
  • "Flight to the Finish" (season 4, episode 5)
  • "Pinkie Pride" (season 4, episode 12)
  • "Twilight Time" (season 4, episode 15)
Sing-alongs
Cutie Mark Quests[79] June 30, 2015 Sing-along
Games Ponies Play[80] September 29, 2015
  • "Fall Weather Friends" (season 1, episode 13)
  • "Games Ponies Play" (season 3, episode 12)
  • "Power Ponies" (season 4, episode 6)
  • "Equestria Games" (season 4, episode 24)
  • "Appleoosa's Most Wanted" (season 5, episode 6)
  • "The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone" (season 5, episode 8)
N/A
Friends Across Equestria[81] March 1, 2016
  • "Make New Friends but Keep Discord" (season 5, episode 7)
  • "Slice of Life" (season 5, episode 9)
  • "Amending Fences" (season 5, episode 12)
  • "Made in Manehattan" (season 5, episode 16)
  • "The Mane Attraction" (season 5, episode 24)
Sing-along
Friends and Family[82] June 7, 2016
  • "One Bad Apple" (season 3, episode 4)
  • "Maud Pie" (season 4, episode 18)
  • "Hearthbreakers" (season 5, episode 20)
  • "Brotherhooves Social" (season 5, episode 17)
  • "The Gift of the Maud Pie" (season 6, episode 3)
N/A
Season 5 DVD set[83] July 12, 2016 All Season 5 episodes
Soarin' Over Equestria[84] August 2, 2016
  • "Griffon the Brush-Off" (season 1, episode 5)
  • "Hurricane Fluttershy" (season 2, episode 22)
  • "Testing Testing 1, 2, 3" (season 4, episode 21)
  • "On Your Marks" (season 6, episode 4)
  • "Newbie Dash" (season 6, episode 7)
N/A
Everypony's Favorite Frights[85] August 30, 2016
  • "Bridle Gossip" (season 1, episode 9)
  • "Owl's Well That Ends Well" (season 1, episode 24)
  • "Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?" (season 5, episode 13)
  • "Scare Master" (season 5, episode 21)
  • "Gauntlet of Fire" (season 6, episode 5)
N/A
Exploring the Crystal Empire[86] February 7, 2017
  • "The Cutie Re-Mark" (season 5, episodes 25 and 26)
  • "The Crystalling" (season 6, episodes 1 and 2)
  • "The Times They Are a Changeling" (season 6, episode 16)
N/A
Twilight and Starlight[87] May 30, 2017
  • "No Second Prances" (season 6, episode 6)
  • "To Where and Back Again" (season 6, episodes 25 and 26)
  • "Celestial Advice" (season 7, episode 1)
  • "All Bottled Up" (season 7, episode 2)
N/A
Fluttershy[88] September 12, 2017
  • "Green Isn't Your Color" (season 1, episode 20)
  • "Flutter Brutter" (season 6, episode 11)
  • "Buckball Season" (season 6, episode 18)
  • "Viva Las Pegasus" (season 6, episode 20)
  • "Fluttershy Leans In" (season 7, episode 5)
N/A
Holiday Hearts[89] October 3, 2017
  • "Winter Wrap Up" (season 1, episode 11)
  • "Castle Sweet Castle" (season 5, episode 3)
  • "Hearthbreakers" (season 5, episode 20)
  • "A Hearth's Warming Tail" (season 6, episode 8)
  • "Not Asking for Trouble" (season 7, episode 11)
Sing-along
Season 6 DVD set[62] November 7, 2017 All Season 6 episodes
Applejack[90] May 8, 2018
  • "Leap of Faith" (season 4, episode 20)
  • "Applejack's "Day" Off" (season 6, episode 10)
  • "The Cart Before the Ponies" (season 6, episode 14)
  • "P.P.O.V. (Pony Point of View)" (season 6, episode 22)
  • "Where the Apple Lies" (season 6, episode 23)
Sing-along
Rarity[91] July 17, 2018
  • "Suited for Success" (season 1, episode 14)
  • "A Dog and Pony Show" (season 1, episode 19)
  • "Rarity Investigates!" (season 5, episode 15)
  • "Forever Filly" (season 7, episode 6)
  • "It Isn't the Mane Thing About You" (season 7, episode 19)
N/A
Pony Trick or Treat[92] September 4, 2018
  • "28 Pranks Later" (season 6, episode 15)
  • "Campfire Tales" (season 7, episode 16)
  • "To Change a Changeling" (season 7, episode 17)
  • "Shadow Play — Part 1" (season 7, episode 25)
  • "Shadow Play — Part 2" (season 7, episode 26)
N/A
Season 7 DVD set[93] October 9, 2018 All Season 7 episodes
Hearts and Hooves[94] January 1, 2019
  • "Simple Ways" (season 4, episode 13)
  • "Hard to Say Anything" (season 7, episode 8)
  • "The Perfect Pear" (season 7, episode 13)
  • "The Maud Couple" (season 8, episode 3)
  • "The Break Up Break Down" (season 8, episode 10)
Sing-alongs

Merchandise and other media

Friendship Is Magic is associated with the 2010 relaunch of My Little Pony toy line, having figurines and playsets based on it.[95] A section of the Hasbro website gives information about Friendship Is Magic for children and their parents, including character backgrounds, videos, and interactive games and media. Due in part to the older fans, Hasbro has come to see My Little Pony as a "lifestyle" brand, with over 200 licenses in 15 categories of products, including clothing, houseware, and digital media. The brand grossed over US$650 million in retail sales in 2013,[96] and one billion USD annually in retail sales in 2014[97][98] and 2015.[99]

Hasbro had seen from the brony fandom for the show that some of the art the fans had produced were humanized versions of the show's characters. They took inspiration from that to develop the My Little Pony: Equestria Girls spin-off series of movies and shorts that ran alongside the Friendship Is Magic show for several years.[100]

In early 2019, Hasbro Studios released five tie-in animated shorts on their YouTube channel. In June 2019, it was announced that a musical adaptation was in the works. A collaboration between Hasbro and Mills Entertainment, it will feature an original story while retaining the core aspects of friendship. It was slated for a March 2020 launch in North America.[101]

My Little Pony: The Movie, a theatrical animated film adaptation of the television series, was released on October 6, 2017 in the United States, distributed by Lionsgate. The film is directed by series supervising director Jayson Thiessen and written by showrunner Meghan McCarthy, and is financed by Hasbro Studios' film subdivision, Allspark Pictures.

Clip show episodes of the series are being released, the first of which was released through the 9Now video-on-demand service in Australia on April 20, 2020. These episodes replace the words "Friendship is Magic" in the series logo with "Friendship is Forever" in the opening sequence, and they feature various clips of episodes from seasons one through nine alongside brand new animation.[102]

Hasbro and Discovery Family announced a subsequent animated series, My Little Pony: Pony Life. The new series is based on the same characters, with most of the same voice actors returning, but feature a new animation style and focus on more slice of life stories.[103]

Reception

Critical reception

The series has received critical acclaim from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, season 1 has an approval rating of 100%, based on 10 reviews, with an average score of 8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Smart and sweet, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic's proves that children's entertainment can be fun for adults, too."[104]

Critics have responded positively to the fact the show is enjoyable for broad audiences. Emily VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club favorably noted its "sheer and utter joyfulness" and lack of cynicism, unlike many other shows that garnered a cult following of parents and adults. She complimented the characters' stylized appearance, the stories' relative complexity for children's television, and the solid jokes which make the show enjoyable for parents as well as children. She gave the series a B+.[105] Later, Genevieve Koski of The A.V. Club commented that Friendship Is Magic is an example of a show that, while considered "girly", has been able to tap into the nerd culture to allow it to gain wider acceptance than other comparable forms.[106] Matt Morgan, writing for Wired's "GeekDad" column, praised the show for having "rebooted the long-time Hasbro property while managing to lace it with geeky undertones" and being one of the few "girl-focused shows that a geeky dad can appreciate with his daughter".[107] Los Angeles Times critic Robert Lloyd called the show "smarter and sassier and more aesthetically sophisticated" than any of the previous My Little Pony cartoons, and praised its ability to appeal to both children and their parents, in that it is "smart and sprightly and well-staged, and never horribly cute".[108]

Praise has also been given for the messages of friendships and morals. In her review on Common Sense Media, an organization focusing on the parenting aspect of children's media, Emily Ashby gave the show a rating of four out of five stars, emphasizing its messages of friendship, tolerance and respect, but advised parents to be wary of the "influence the characters might have on their kids' desires, since it's rooted in a well-known product line of books, toys, and just about everything in between."[109] Liz Ohanesian, for L.A. Weekly, said that the show is "absolutely genuine in its messages about friendship but never takes itself too seriously".[110] The show has been critically praised for its humor and moral outlook by Brian Truitt of USA Today.[111]

Friendship Is Magic has also been listed as one of the best animated series by websites. TV Guide listed Friendship Is Magic as one of the top sixty animated shows of all time in a September 2013 list.[112] IndieWire ranked the show among the 20 best animated series of the 21st-century in 2019 as well as the best animated series of all time in 2020.[113][114] On January 4, 2021, Anderson Evans of BuzzFeed ranked the show as number 22 (out of 24) in a list of the best animated shows on Netflix.[115] Other praise for the show included its style, stories, characterisation and discussion of feminism.[116]

The series has not been devoid of criticism, however. Kathleen Richter of Ms. believed that Friendship Is Magic did little to change the nature of older animations for girls, which she considered "so sexist and racist and heteronormative." She suggested that, through the character of Rainbow Dash, the show was promoting the stereotype that "all feminists are angry, tomboyish lesbians." She also considered that the only darker-colored ponies shown to date were in positions of servitude towards the "white pony overlord."[117] Lauren Faust responded to these claims by stating that while Rainbow Dash was a tomboy, her sexual orientation was never referenced and "assuming [tomboys] are lesbians is extremely unfair to both straight and lesbian tomboys", and further stating that "color has never, ever been depicted as a race indicator for the ponies."[14] Amid Amidi, writing for the animation website Cartoon Brew, was critical of the concept of the show, calling it a sign of "the end of the creator-driven era in TV animation". Amidi's essay expressed concern that assigning a talent like Faust to a toy-centric show was part of a trend towards a focus on profitable genres of animation, such as toy tie-ins, to deal with a fragmented viewing audience, and overall "an admission of defeat for the entire movement, a white flag-waving moment for the TV animation industry."[118] Writing for Den of Geek, Ethan Lewis criticized the third-season finale since he felt Twilight becoming a Princess was not appropriate and would make her miserable.[119]

Ratings

Friendship Is Magic originally premiered with an average viewership of 1.4 million per month, but expanded to 4 million per month by the end of the first season,[120] making it the highest-rated of any Hasbro offering at the time.[107] Advertising Age reports that the viewership doubled between the first and the second season.[121] The Hub Network reported that "Hearts and Hooves Day", an episode on the theme of Valentine's Day, which aired on February 11, 2012, in the middle of the second season, was the show's most-viewed episode ever, and the second highest of any program of the Hub network; its viewership exceeded 150% of that of the previous year.[122] This was surpassed by the two-part season two finale, "A Canterlot Wedding", airing in April 2012, marking the broadcast as the highest viewership for the Hub Network to that date.[123]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2012 Behind the Voice Actors Awards Best Female Lead Vocal Performance in a Television Series Andrea Libman (as Pinkie Pie) Won (People's Choice) [124]
Best Vocal Performance by a Child Claire Corlett (as Sweetie Belle) Nominated [125]
Michelle Creber (as Apple Bloom) Won (People's Choice)
Best Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role John de Lancie (as Discord) Won (People's Choice) [124]
Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Original Song – Children's and Animation Daniel Ingram (for "Becoming Popular (The Pony Everypony Should Know)") Nominated [126]
Daniel Ingram (for "Find a Pet Song") Nominated
Leo Awards Best Animation Program or Series Jayson Thiessen, James Wootton, Sarah Wall, Chris Bartleman, Blair Peters, and Kirsten Newlands Nominated [127]
Best Direction in an Animation Program or Series Jayson Thiessen, James Wootton Nominated
Best Overall Sound in an Animation Program or Series Marcel Duperreault, Todd Araki, Jason Frederickson, Adam McGhie Nominated
2013 Behind the Voice Actors Awards Best Vocal Ensemble in a Television Series – Children's/Educational Ashleigh Ball, Tabitha St. Germain, Tara Strong, Andrea Libman, Cathy Weseluck, Nicole Oliver, Michelle Creber, Madeleine Peters, Claire Corlett, and Peter New Won (People's Choice) [128]
Best Female Vocal Performance by a Child Claire Corlett (as Sweetie Belle) Won (People's Choice) [129]
Best Male Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role Scott McNeil (as Flam) Nominated [128]
Best Female Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role Britt McKillip (as Princess Cadance) Won (People's Choice)
Leo Awards Best Musical Score in an Animation Program or Series Daniel Ingram, Steffan Andrews (for "Magical Mystery Cure") Won [130]
Best Overall Sound in an Animation Program or Series Marcel Duperreault, Todd Araki, Jason Frederickson, Adam McGhie (for "Sleepless in Ponyville") Nominated
2014 Behind the Voice Actors Awards Best Vocal Ensemble in a Television Series – Children's/Educational Ashleigh Ball, Tabitha St. Germain, Tara Strong, Andrea Libman, Cathy Weseluck, Nicole Oliver, Michelle Creber, Madeleine Peters, Claire Corlett, and Peter New Won (People's Choice) [131]
Best Female Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role Ellen Kennedy (as Mane-iac) Won (People's Choice)
Joey Awards Young Actress in a Voice Over Role Michelle Creber (as Apple Bloom) Won [132]
Leo Awards Best Musical Score in an Animation Program or Series Daniel Ingram, Steffan Andrews (for "Pinkie Pride") Nominated [133]
Best Overall Sound in an Animation Program or Series Marcel Duperreault, Todd Araki, Jason Frederickson, Adam McGhie Won
2015 Behind the Voice Actors Awards
Best Female Lead Vocal Performance in a Television Series – Comedy/Musical Andrea Libman (as Pinkie Pie) Nominated [134]
Tabitha St. Germain (as Rarity) Nominated
Best Male Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Supporting Role – Comedy/Musical John de Lancie (as Discord) Won (People's Choice)
Best Female Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Supporting Role – Comedy/Musical Cathy Weseluck (as Spike) Won
Best Male Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role – Comedy/Musical "Weird Al" Yankovic (as Cheese Sandwich) Won (People's Choice)
Best Vocal Ensemble in a Television Series – Comedy/Musical Ashleigh Ball, Andrea Libman, Tabitha St. Germain, Tara Strong, Cathy Weseluck Won (People's Choice)
Joey Awards Best Female Voiceover Performance (age 12—17) Michelle Creber (as Apple Bloom) Won [132]
2016 Behind the Voice Actors Awards Best Female Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role Kazumi Evans (as Moondancer) Nominated [135]
Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Original Song Daniel Ingram and Amy Keating Rogers (for "The Magic Inside") Nominated [136]
Hugo Awards Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form "The Cutie Map" (directed by Jayson Thiessen and Jim Miller; written by Scott Sonneborn, M.A. Larson, and Meghan McCarthy) Nominated [137]
Leo Awards Best Musical Score in an Animation Program or Series Daniel Ingram (for "Crusaders of the Lost Mark") Won [138]
Best Sound in an Animation Program or Series Marcel Duperreault, Todd Araki, Jason Fredrickson, Kirk Furniss, Adam McGhie, Christine Church, Roger Monk (for "Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?") Won [139]
Best Performance in an Animation Program or Series Ashleigh Ball (for "Tanks for the Memories" as Rainbow Dash and Applejack) Nominated [140]
Young Artist Awards Best Performance in a Voice-Over Role – Young Actor (12–21) Graham Verchere (as Pipsqueak) Won [141]
Young Entertainer Awards Best Young Actor Voice Over Role 13–21 Nominated [142]
2017 Leo Awards Best Musical Score in an Animation Program or Series Daniel Ingram (for "A Hearth's Warming Tail") Nominated [143]
Best Sound in an Animation Program or Series Todd Araki, Christine Church, Marcel Duperreault, Jason Fredrickson, Adam McGhie, and Roger Monk (for "28 Pranks Later") Won [144]
Behind the Voice Actors Awards Best Female Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Supporting Role Kelly Sheridan (as Starlight Glimmer) Nominated [145]
UBCP/ACTRA Awards Best Voice Andrea Libman (for "Rock Solid Friendship" as Pinkie Pie) Nominated [146]
Best Voice Nicole Oliver (for "A Royal Problem" as Princess Celestia / Daybreaker) Nominated
Best Voice Vincent Tong (for "Hard to Say Anything" as Feather Bangs) Nominated
2018 Leo Awards Best Sound in an Animation Program or Series Todd Araki, Christine Church, Marcel Duperreault, Jason Fredrickson, Kirk Furniss, Adam McGhie, and Roger Monk (for "Shadow Play - Part 2") Nominated [147]
Best Voice Performance in an Animation Program or Series Vincent Tong (or "Hard to Say Anything" as Feather Bangs) Nominated [148]
Behind the Voice Actor Awards Best Male Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role Mackenzie Gray (as Dandy Grandeur) Nominated [149]
Best Female Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role Felicia Day (as Pear Butter) Won
Nicole Oliver (as Daybreaker) Nominated
2019 Leo Awards Best Voice Performance in an Animation Program or Series Ashleigh Ball (for "Non-Compete Clause" as Rainbow Dash) Nominated [150]
Best Soundtrack in an Animated Series Sunni Westbrook Nominated
UBCP/ACTRA Awards Best Voice Sunni Westbrook (for "Frenemies" as Cozy Glow) Nominated [151]

Fandom

Despite Hasbro's target demographic of young girls and their parents,[95][152] My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has become a cultural and Internet phenomenon, with many male fans between 13 and 35.[153] The response from the Internet has been traced to cartoon and animation fans on the Internet board 4chan,[95] responding to Amidi's negative essay regarding the show and current trends in animation.[118][154] As a result of the discussion on 4chan, interest in the show spread throughout other parts of the Internet, creating a large fanbase and a multitude of creative works, fan sites, and conventions.[153] The fanbase has adopted the name "brony" (a portmanteau of "bro" and "pony") to describe themselves.[155][156] The older fanbase had come as a surprise to Hasbro and staff members involved with the show.[30][153][157][158] They have appreciated and embraced the fandom, adding nods to the fans within the show and the toys,[13] while, early on, allowing the creative elements of the fandom to flourish without legal interference.[159] The fandom was a meme upon the show's release, but its popularity across the internet gradually faded, despite the show's continuation.[42]

Other

Director Adam McKay was inspired by the visuals of Friendship Is Magic, which his daughters had watched frequently, in creating a short for Morgan Spurlock's 2014 educational/documentary web series, "We the Economy", using cartoon alpacas in the same style as the show to explain about income inequality.[160]

In early 2016, Hasbro was sued by Font Brothers over Hasbro's use of the font "Generation B" for much of its product packaging and marketing with the Friendship Is Magic show and toyline, including the "Friendship Is Magic" text in the show's logo. Font Brothers claim that Hasbro has been using this font in an unlicensed manner and is seeking up to $150,000 for each violation of its use.[161]

Dialogue from a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode was brought up during the 2016 Republican National Convention by then-RNC chief strategist (and future White House Press Secretary) Sean Spicer to defend Melania Trump against accusations of plagiarism.[162]

Notes

  1. ^ Main composer for the episodes "Magical Mystery Cure" in season 3, "Pinkie Pride" in season 4, "Crusaders of the Lost Mark" in season 5, and "A Hearth's Warming Tail" in Season 6.
  2. ^ Main composer for the episodes "Magical Mystery Cure" in season 3 and "Pinkie Pride" in season 4.
  3. ^ Previously known as Hasbro Studios from season 1 through the first three quarters of season 8
  4. ^ Known as The Hub for the first three seasons and Hub Network for season 4.

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Bibliography

  • Snider, Brandon T. (2013). My Little Pony: The Elements of Harmony: Friendship is Magic: The Official Guidebook. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. ISBN 978-0-316-24754-2.
  • Begin, Mary Jane (2015). My Little Pony: The Art of Equestria. Abrams. ISBN 978-1-4197-1577-8.

External links