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6 November 2011

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. "Sisterhooves Social" REVIEW

I hate you guys.

I hate you so much…

Okay, no I don’t, I love you to death and I wish I could be in the same room right now so I could shower you with flowers and candy, because if you keep up this rhythm of great episode after great episode I think we won’t be able to survive until 2012 to see the end of the World. I say this, and I made the previous “hate” joke at the start, because this episode might well be the first step for Rarity to become my absolute bestest Best Favorite Pony in the World, pushing Rainbow Dash aside for the first time in months. Not only does “Sisterhooves Social” make bronies who didn’t like Rarity before like her now, but it also makes us Rarity fans really happy. And even more if we happen to be in the demographic with siblings.

But, like I always do with these reviews, let me throw you a TL;DR just in case you want to skip to my “Predicted Interest Curve” and ignore my carefully crafted review. Is the episode good? Hell yes it is. Does it have enough Marshmallow Pony goodness? A lot. Is this the best Rarity episode? You know what…Yes as well. And if you want to know why you better keep reading now.

The episode starts with Rarity woken up by Sweetie Belle’s failed attempt at doing breakfast. We see their parents right away and I have to say I like them a lot. Her dad sports a magnificent moustache and a Hawaiian shirt, so he is Tom Selleck from “Magnum P.I.”; and her mother has a terrible hairdo with tacky sport clothing and a Minnesota accent, so she’s a mix between Katey Sagal in “Married with Children” and Frances McDormand from “Fargo”. Even their personalities fit, so I am starting to wonder if that’s just a coincidence or the creators went directly for a full-on reference. Knowing the stealthy nature of the show towards puns and shout-outs, I bet it’s pretty much confirmed. We also discover that Sweetie Belle doesn’t live with Rarity. I think that’s an important thing we have cleared up. I always wondered where Sweetie Belle went anytime Rarity was taking care of orders or doing dresses. This means that, when Sweetie Belle is around Rarity’s boutique, their parents are gone for a vacation. That adds a lot to the character of Rarity, being barely in touch with Sweetie Belle and not used to interact with her.

For me, and I guess for everyone in the audience, the biggest point of this episode is how well the sisterhood interactions are handled. I looked at how the acted with each other and said “That’s how I and my sister act”. They nailed this in the episode and when the backbone of your story is pretty much perfect, straight and spotless you are safe and ready to please your audience. Cindy Morrow, who wrote the episodes “Show Stoppers” and “Owl’s well that ends well”, must have poured some of her personal experiences in this episode. Only someone who has had siblings can write such fantastic character interactions. 

This is you just when you realize your sister has deleted all of your Pokémon Ruby saved game. All 300 hours. Gone. That's your face.
The entire episode is a treat, not just to Rarity fans but also to Applejack fans. Being an episode focused around love between sisters and the way they interact with each other, what better way than having the two sister couples of the show that also happen to be so different they create a fantastic contrast between each other? Yes sure, we only focus on Rarity and Applejack out of the mane cast, but the fewer characters you have to focus on the more they are developed and explored. It’s fantastic to see Rarity going from hating her sister to realize she didn’t have bad intentions and just wanted to help. Rarity is here portrayed as the average big sister. She gets angry at her little sister for messing with her stuff, when all her little sister wants is to make her happy. Those who have had brothers (big and little) will engage with these characters, but it’s so well portrayed, it’s so down to the real thing, that even those without siblings will be affected by the story too. I love the fact that the writers of this show (and the whole team in general) don’t insult our intelligence. We were told in Episode 3 that Twilight won’t be the only one giving lessons about friendship, opening the spectrum of lessons we will be given beyond those relatable to friends. That’s why Rarity and Sweetie Belle are delivering the Aesop this time. They were the ones who learnt something new this time. Now we will be given lessons about family, brotherhood and life in general, so the subtitle of the show as “Friendship is Magic” should be changed to “Life is Magic”.

I also root for "Uncouth is Magic"
Of course, the build up of the whole episode is the Sisterhood Social Competition held by the Apple Family in Sweet Apple Acres, and how Rarity’s refusal to take part in it triggers Sweetie Belle’s disowning of her own sister. When this happens, and after Rarity realizes she shouldn’t have treated her sister like that (Gone with the Wind reference and everything), she decides to set things right my any means possible. 

I was one of the many who got surprised by the twist. I was having my suspicions about it right around the end of the race, and when the hat falls and the horn is revealed I couldn’t hold the giggles and gasps. And then I realized that Rarity had jumped flawlessly onto pales, carried her sister up a pile of crates, gulped a whole pie in a single bite, pushed a square of hay, helped Sweetie Belle step on grapes to juice them up, throw a bunch of apples into a bucket, carry an egg without breaking it (it’s harder than it looks, especially with your muzzle), and sprint to the finish line…And all of that covered from head to hoof in mud. Not even Rambo would do that. Remember, this is the Rarity that made a five minute drama over mud in episode 8 of Season 1. Not only she gave up her OCD with tidiness for her sister, she also succeeded at proving that they are meant to be together. Watching the race for the first time, before you know the twist, is a heart-breaking experience because you wish Rarity was there with her sister. Watching it again knowing that Rarity was with her the whole time is as heart-warming as Big Fish’s ending.

Only muddier.
However, there are a few flaws, and I am going to get this out of the way right now. Guys, and I am talking to the fandom right now, stop it with the whole “background Pony X is not sister with background Pony Y”. Jayson Thiessen said it already: “The background ponies are our responsibility”. So what if Dinky is with an older sister and it makes no sense for Derpy to have two daughters now? It’s all fanon, the most fragile substance in the world besides air. Making a load of comments raging and judging the episode just for the background characters is sad. I know it’s a minority but I needed to bring it up.

Now, episode wise, I personally wanted to see more of the contest. I think it’s a great contest worthy to be next to The Running of the Leafs or The Young Fliers Competition. I know having only 22 minutes makes it really hard for the creators to put everything they want in the episode but, maybe, instead of focusing on Sweetie Belle complaining about Rarity’s attitude we could’ve seen more events. Maybe some Frisbee competition? I bet Equestria has those too. I also want to see more of Rarity’s parents. They are awesome; the little we had of them was great and probably one of the most memorable moments of the entire episode.

So yes, this episode is 22 minutes of Rarity goodness showing how flawed she is but how hard she works to correct those flaws and how much she loves her little sister Sweetie Belle. It is also great to see more Applejack on the spotlight and, even though the episode didn’t revolve around her, it’s fantastic to see how the relationships between her and Rarity, and between her and Applebloom (AB for the friends) keep developing. Few other slice-of-life shows expand on the characters as if it was an episodic over-arching storyline.

But don’t forget the most important thing: This is about ponies. This is about colorful cartoony small horses that live in a fantasy land controlled by a Goddess called Princess Celestia, and that belong to a company that makes its revenue in selling toys of them. To have such fantastic writing and character development is, still, a frigging miracle. We shouldn’t just be thankful. I think we should seriously shower these people with flowers and candy.

Or else Rarity will cry. Do you want to make her cry?
- Defining Moment: The competition with a twist ending. You will watch it first and go “Aw damnit, if only Rarity was there with Sweetie Belle”. You will watch it again and go “Awwwww my God, she’s doing all of this for her sister, this is so touching”.

- Moral: The moral in this episode is exceptionally perfect. Having a sibling is the best thing in the World, but it requires team work, understanding and respect of each other’s personalities and preferences. If you didn’t want to hug your sibling after watching this episode you really have no heart.

1 comment:

  1. My favourite moment has to be:
    "My sister! What have I done!"