MLP is what it is for many reasons, many of which are to do with the people who created it, yes. But in my perspective; the biggest reason is this: MLP:FiM was touched by 4chans noodly appendage. One day anonymous got out of bed and decided to screw up everyones gender expectations and MLP was the chosen one.
Other cartoons can have an equally as good art style or scripting, but without that exception from the internet then it’s just a cartoon.
Actually, I’d have to disagree with you there. FIM’s online presence is what got my attention enough to give it a try, but I stayed for the show itself.
The fandom has always been great fun, don’t get me wrong, but do you recall the stories? The folks who would watch an episode, then another, then before they know it they’ve watched the whole series in two sittings. There was something addictive about this peculiar little cartoon about ponies, not just the meme. What that did was enhance the rate of fan interest, but it didn’t create it.
Once I began to watch, I became completely addicted to the characters and their interactions, and the stories which seem simple at first but are conveyed with such depth at times. And I have a theory as to why that is; simply put, it was all thanks to Lauren Faust. I don’t want that to sound like a cop-out, so let me explain.
Faust had a unique vision for the show: the somewhat radical idea that a show aimed at younger girls could actually be quality enough to be enjoyed by the entire family. From what I understand, she completely invested herself in the project, from art design to writing. She took the MLP brand and started from the ground up, gathering from elements of the original show and vastly improving on them. She managed to craft character concepts that ended up being both overt in their uniqueness and subtle in their nuances, whose interactions are interesting enough that for many of us, the show just never gets old.
Now of course, it wasn’t only that. Somehow the stars aligned just right so that a near-perfect voicing cast was assembled, the extraordinary likes of Ingram, Andrews, and Anderson were tasked with the music, and brilliant writers like Amy Keating Rogers and Meghan McCarthy were brought in for the scripts. The animators also took the time to use Flash better in FIM than in any cartoon before it, and naturally, one can’t forget the talent of Jayson Thiessen as well.
But at the end of the day, the vision was Faust’s. Thiessen himself has also said as much.
I’ve been thinking about this lately, because it bothered me that I don’t think season 2 is as good in the character interactions department as season 1 was. Season 2… and I know this has been said before, but I’m repeating it because I believe it’s true… S2 lacked the subtlety of S1. The characters behaved with far less maturity overall. Although many fans found S2’s over-the-top moments entertaining, I believe it was the fact that season one subverted that aspect of a children’s cartoon that made the very first bronies like it. I know for a fact that’s what attracted me. In the first season, the characters never had moments like Twilight’s complete nervous breakdowns (twice in S2!), Fluttershy’s bizarrely rabid OOC behavior, Pinkie’s insensitivity, the list goes on and on. They had plenty of cool, exciting moments like the showdown with NMM, the hydra, the buffalo, etc., but the characters for the most part remained themselves throughout all of that. We learned a little bit more about all of them with each episode without taking too many steps back. It was just a well thought out progression overall. In season two, although still good, had far too many moments when the characters started to nearly become dreaded caricatures. I don’t mean to exaggerate the point here, because S2 was still really good, just not as charming as the first one.
And I think the specific reason S1 is superior to S2 is because of Faust. What else could it have been? The crew remained largely the same, except for her. She may have stayed on as creative consultant, but that’s not the same as directly influencing the show as she had done before.
Let me share a quote from her initial announcement that she’d be leaving the show:
Various circumstances with the production made it increasingly impossible for me to keep up the level of personal creative involvement and control that I had at the start of the series.
Not only was the quality of the show thanks to her, but it was the fact that she was less and less able to have that influence that led to her quitting.
THAT is what a kid’s show like LPS lacks. They may have Ingram and they may have Tabitha, but at the end of the day, they don’t have Faust. And that, if I’m right, is what will make all the difference.