My Little Pony 'n Friends

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
My Little Pony 'n Friends TV Poster Image
Fantasy adventures, gender stereotypes in colorful cartoon.

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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Educational value

Social-emotional lessons are taught on each episode, such as the value of kindness and the consequences of selfishness. 

Positive messages

The ponies are always willing to help each other or other creatures who wander into Paradise Valley in need of assistance, even if the creatures appear threatening at first. First aired in 1986, this version of the Pony saga has some outdated messages about gender roles: A knight urges a dragon to accept defeat "like a man." 

Positive role models & representations

Characters are somewhat indistinguishable from each other, generally all being fun-loving and sweet. However, there are some minor differences, often connected with the pony's name: Fizzy is daft, Gingerbread is a daredevil. Baby horses often make more mistakes and need more help from fellow ponies. 

Violence & scariness

The ponies are often threatened by imaginary foes: witches, goblins, evil catwomen. The danger is often not physical, for instance, a major subplot concerns the potential destruction of the ponies' home. However, some dangers may frighten young children: a growling dog turns everything he touches to stone. 

Sexy stuff

At least one of the ponies is very concerned with love and romance, and often remarks that this or that is romantic. Some subplots concern fairy-tale-style "true love." 

Language
Consumerism

This show was created by Hasbro, the maker of a line of My Little Pony toys. Children may want to buy or play with these toys after watching. Storylines are specifically connected with toys that are or were for sale. 

Drinking, drugs & smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that My Little Pony 'n Friends is the original animated show centered around the adventures of talking horses (who were and still are also for sale in plastic versions at toy stores). In this show, the ponies are frequently threatened by fantasy foes like witches, goblins, and cat-women. The villains aren't very scary and the danger is frequently non-physical, but some villains may be frightening to young children, like a dog who turns others to stone. Characters and gender roles are sometimes stereotypical; one character urges another to take punishment "like a man" and characters are often given names to communicate their personality or physical strengths: Fizzy, Heart Throb, Whizzer. Ponies, particularly Heart Throb, frequently talk about "romance" and "true love" in an excited way. Each episode attempts to teach social-emotional lessons. 

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What's the story?

In magical Ponyland, all sorts of creatures make their homes, most of all MY LITTLE PONIES 'N FRIENDS, a group of colorful lovable animated ponies who live a life of song and games in Paradise Estate. But not every creature who makes his home in Ponyland is so peaceful and fun-loving. The ponies often find themselves battling with witches, trolls, demons, even talking flowers and angry furniture. But the end of each adventure finds the ponies safe once more, playing and gamboling together in their pony paradise.  

Is it any good?

Sweet, candy-colored, and whimsical, this original series just can't compare in quality to later versions of the My Little Pony multiverse. Don't flame the Pegasus Ponies (who fly) or the Earth Ponies (who don't) -- they're victims of the time in which this series was made, in the days when the Care Bears, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and The Transformers loomed large. These were simplistic tales, with stereotyped characters and big bad villains; this My Little Pony series followed suit. Its characters aren't the complex and recognizably human-like ponies you may know from the Friendship Is Magic reboot and later pony tales. Instead, you know just about everything you need to know about each pony by checking what type of "cutie mark" she bears on her flank, and villains are generally one-note meanies who descend, are grappled with, and disappear after an episode, rather than lessons arising from everyday conflicts, as on later series. 

The lessons viewers will take away just aren't as complex, or as meaningful as in later Pony movies and shows. Still, My Little Pony 'n Friends is innocuous enough for young viewers, and colorful and cute enough that they'll want to, particularly if they've seen and enjoyed other My Little Pony adventures. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how My Little Pony 'n Friends characters demonstrate teamwork and empathy when working together to solve problems. How do they show empathy for other creatures? How do their strengths combine to help them get through tough spots? 

  • Almost all of the characters on My Little Pony 'n Friends are voiced by women. Why? Who is this show aimed at? What gender are most of the characters? Is it typical for animated shows to be mostly voiced by women or by men? Why? 

  • Every episode of My Little Pony 'n Friends has some type of conflict. Name a few. Are they scary? Interesting? True to life? Why do animated shows so frequently involve fantasy/fairy tale elements like talking animals and imaginary creatures? 

  • Have you seen any other My Little Pony movies or TV shows? Do you like them better than this why? How are they different from this show? 

TV details

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