Okay, first off, I don’t consider myself an avid MLP fan. I got into the show back when the first season was out because of general curiosity. I liked the show’s first 3 seasons for its great animation, fun characters, sometimes zany humor and genuinely cool mythology (mainly the monsters and such). I own only ONE piece of MLP merchandise: a fan-made button of Fluttershy I got at Megacon 2011. But after season 3, I found the show shifted. Some episodes became hit-or-miss to me, I was annoyed that Discord went from villain to good-ish guy, and even though I’ve gotten used to it, I initially didn’t like Twilight’s transformation into an alicorn/princess. Even now, in season 5, I’ve still found the show uneven and I can’t stand the current use of “friendship morals via a magic map” storyline. The show has always had moments where it pandered to the fans after the rise of bronies/pegasisters, adult men and women who watch and enjoy the show. I still consider the main audience to be young girls and boys, but there’s no denying the impact the brony community has made on it, for better or worse. But that brings us to the 100th and most recent episode, “Slice of Life.”
This centers around Cranky and Matilda, two literal donkeys from previous episodes who are about to get married. The whole plot here revolves around a mishap involving Ponyville to assume the wedding is that day instead of the next, and the two are forced to throw one together with Ponyville’s eccentric citizens in tow. While it’s not a bad idea, and it’s generally sweet to see them together in the end, I was really expecting something more bombastic for the 100th ep. I did like them focusing on background characters and even giving some of them a voice (I had no issues with this, even with Derpy’s new one). But my issue and the reason for this rant is what they used this episode for: fan pandering.
The idea is that the writers wanted to give back to the fandom (the key word here) by showcasing fan-favorite characters like Doctor Whooves, Derpy, Octavia, Bon Bon and Lyra doing things in preparation for this wedding. But this episode shoves so many references in your face in the process that I still don’t feel I know any of them that well. Octavia, for example, gets a main scene where she and DJ Pon-3 create this orchestral dubstep song before and as they fervently try to get to the wedding. Doctor Whooves is the Doctor inside and out, which I thought I’d appreciate more, but they make it so blatant rather than creating their own unique spin that it took me out of his character. Even Bon Bon gets this weird subplot where she reveals she’s a secret agent, and it’s just… *sigh* Even the moral at the end is a little heavy-handed, serving to highlight the need for supporting characters as well as the fandom itself.
Look, I know I’m not in deep with the fandom like many others are, and I respect the writers for wanting to give back to the fandom for their support. But as a 100th episode, it just didn’t work for me. I kept thinking of that initial fanbase, the kids, and wondered if they understood half the stuff being referenced or just plain going on. For God’s sake, they even throw in a blatant Big Lebowski reference! And from a character standpoint, as I said, I didn’t feel I got to know any of them that well. When they weren’t clearly references to other works, they were still doing something pop culture related that made them feel wholly unoriginal and lackluster to me.
I don’t know, maybe I’ve started to cool on MLP as a whole, but I do wanna stick with this season till the end. Beyond that, I don’t know if I’ll keep going. I don’t even have kids, and yet I feel like the show is slowly leaving them behind with episodes like this. Again, I understand that the writers wanted to give a shout-out to the fandom, but this 100th episode could have been so, so, SO much more than that.
Oh, and that image I used for this rant? That’s what the main 6 are up to all episode: fighting a “bugbear.” I would have rather followed that, honestly, if only because I love its design.