Tonight my family and I finished watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. My son is bereft there will be no more ponies for nigh on many months. [spoilers on, if it matters!] Twilight Sparkle has ascended and become a princess, moving on beyond her peers, but only because of their aid.
And something about the story struck me. Twilight learned about herself, went on an epic journey (over the course of the several seasons), and saved the day using a magic artifact and her own ties of friendship. She became more because of her journey, in this case quite literally.
And for a while… I expected her to move on. I expected her to be told, “Now your time in Ponyville is complete. Say goodbye to your friends, because you are now something more.” I expected the lump in my throat as she bade her friends goodbye, to sail on a gray ship with Gandalf into the West –
–oh. I mixed my stories, didn’t I?
Of course, in this children’s fantasy, no such decision was required. Twilight got to have her cake and eat it too, as she gained the rank of princess and yet still kept her friends. If we were to take all of this seriously, if she is like Princess Celestia, Twilight is now immortal and will watch her friends age and die. Whee children’s programming! Yet MPL:FiM has actually done a fantastic job creating a mythology and world that makes sense given the rules it’s set up.
OK. Little tangent. Back to the matter at hand.
At the end of Lord of the Rings, Frodo (and others) leave Middle Earth. They’ve been touched by magical objects in such a way that though they might choose to stay, it would not be good for them. So, though Frodo has carried the ring and saved the day by having a finger bitten off, he must say farewell to his dearest friends. As he boards that gray ship, as he wishes the best for his dear Sam, there’s a lump in the viewer’s throat. Frodo has changed so much he cannot remain with those he loves most.
And, strangely enough, I wanted that moment for Twilight. I wanted her to have grown to the point that she was required to say goodbye.
Yeah, maybe I’m expecting too much for a children’s program aimed at 4-6 year-old girls.
But then again… it suckered me in with good stories that play well to both adults and children, well-defined characters, a working world, and rules that held an internal logic. This wasn’t just a kids show… it was a kids show that adults could enjoy.
And in the end, when it remained a kid’s show… I wanted something more.
Bravo to the team at MLP:FiM for creating such a dynamic show. They raised my expectations. They met my expectations in many ways. I need to allow myself to enjoy a show for what it is, though. It’s a kid’s program. I can demand good stories and good characters. I can applaud good music and good animation. I can’t ask a children’s show to meet my grown-up story needs, though. There are some things that, maybe, need to be done in adult programs and not children’s programs.
So I guess that means I need to go watch an adult program, huh?