Having experienced them both for the first time recently, I can confidently say that My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is an awful lot like Cabin In The Woods.
Stay with me on this.
(WARNING: Spoilers ahead for My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Also for the cabin thing.)
As you may know even if you haven’t seen it (which you should!), Cabin In The Woods is an exercise in genre deconstruction. But that word doesn’t feel wholly appropriate to me, because it doesn’t break its material down into component parts so much as it amplifies each of those parts until the whole is full to bursting. The protagonists/cannon fodder aren’t just attacked by zombies, they’re attacked by pain-worshiping torture zombies. The “everyone dies” ending typical of a no-holds-barred horror flick couldn’t be ramped up any farther: EVERYONE–like, on the planet–dies.
MLP is the same: Overstuffed with glitter, rainbows, candy-colored environs, and impossibly saucer-eyed ponies with names like Twilight Sparkle and Fluttershy. One of the central characters, Pinkie Pie (yep), irritates the crap out of everyone by making up songs in a maddeningly high octave at the least opportune moments. This show revels in the “stuff-six-year-old-girls-oughta-love”-ness of it all so brazenly that you can’t help but notice the show winking at you. (A vibe familiar to fans of creator Lauren Faust’s earlier show, The Powerpuff Girls.)
But winking doesn’t have to mean insincere. Both Cabin and MLP are cases of increasio ad absurdum. They aren’t using parody to puncture the falseness of genre tropes. They’re blowing up those tropes as big as possible out of sheer adoration. In the process, both show how entertaining the “story-ness” of stories can be, how the artifice is a feature not a bug. And, they both feature unicorns straight-up impaling dudes in cold blood. (OK, that part may only be half-true.)
Sometimes we value stories because of a truth they reveal about the real world. But sometimes we value them precisely because they aren’t the real world, and because it’s fun to throw around giant demon snakes and rainbow-maned Pegasuses.
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