Bright colors, cute animals and stories about the power of friendship make the perfect recipe for a television show catered to little girls. Yet “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” appeals to an entirely different audience – young men.
College-aged men around the country have found something to love in this children’s show, and California Baptist University is not exempt from this phenomenon. Collectively known as “bronies,” they follow the show with the same fervor and gusto as others might follow professional sports.
They create fan sites on the Internet, talk on forums with other fans, debate about their favorite ponies, have “My Little Pony” marathons and watch the show with dedication, despite scorn from their peers.
“It caught my fascination during winter break after surfing YouTube,” Julio Solano, accounting major and self-confessed brony, said. “I immediately fell in love with the show after watching various clips of the episodes’ songs and those one-liners they say. Before I knew it, I was watching more clips and falling in love with the series more and more.”
At first glance, “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” doesn’t seem to be a show many young men would embrace. It revolves around the smart, brainy pony Twilight Sparkle and her friends as they encounter many problems children face on a daily basis. As the title suggests, the show focuses heavily on the friendships between the main characters rather than the epic battles or violence of cartoons typically marketed to boys.
The animation is full of rainbows, ribbons and the color pink. There are a number of catchy, bouncy songs and the main characters are, in fact, ponies, which at first seems to be the main selling point for many little girls.
However, “My Little Pony” is written by the same people who wrote fan-favorite “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends,” and the writing in general has been praised for its cleverness and mass appeal across demographics, the former of which helped spawn a large and dedicated Internet following. Lauren Faust, former executive producer, also animated the popular shows “The Powerpuff Girls” and “Codename: Kids Next Door.”
Not everyone is so eager to be a brony, however. The stigma of watching and actively enjoying a kid’s show can be too much for some young men.
“I’ve been slowly trying to convert my roommates and friends to bronyism,” Solano said. “My female friends think the show is cute and do not mind watching episodes with me. Sadly, my male friends haven’t been buying into it.”
A television reboot of a toy franchise from the 1980s, “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” has transitioned well into the 21st century and is an extremely popular cartoon within both its target audience and those outside of it.
Aside from “bronies,” there are also “pegasisters,” usually young adult women or mothers who originally watched the series with their children but now watch it for their own entertainment.
“I didn’t think that I’d be a fan of a kid’s show,” Kristina Hedberg, business major, said. “I think what is so appealing is it’s so well written. The messages of friendship are presented very well.”
The show has found a special place in the hearts of CBU students, and its almost devout following love the more unconventional aspects of the show.
“What I find most appealing about the show is it’s not your typical, dumbed-down kids’ show. Every episode has an interesting plot, every single character has a specific purpose, the songs are catchy and you learn an important lesson regarding friendship at the end of an episode,” Solano said.
“My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” is currently in its second season after premiering in October 2011 on the television channel The Hub. It is unlikely that CBU’s bronies, or bronies across the country, will give up on this surprisingly entertaining cartoon.