Fans of all ages follow the Discovery Family series.
So you think My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is just for little girls? Neigh!
The animated series from Discovery Family offers something for everyone — including grown-up male fans who’ve dubbed themselves Bronies. These guys thrive on the show’s references to pop-culture phenomena like Game of Thrones, The Big Lebowski and Dungeons & Dragons that fly over the heads of little ones.
“It started off with us just entertaining ourselves, because everybody who works on the show is a bit of a pop-culture nerd,” says Meghan McCarthy, who began as a freelance writer on the series and is now vice-president and head of storytelling for Hasbro, which produces the show based on its toy line.
Still, “we never do it to the detriment of the story,” McCarthy says. “We would never put anything in there that if a kid doesn’t get it, they don’t understand the episode.”
The show’s sharp humor has attracted some famous fans, like King of Queens vet Patton Oswalt, who tweeted about watching the show with his seven-year-old daughter, Alice, and was promptly cast in a voice role (his character is a fussy equine super-fan known as Quibble Pants).
William Shatner will guest-star in the seventh season, which premieres April 15.
The overall reception to the series has been extremely positive since it was launched in 2010. “[But] at the time it came out, a lot of entertainment people were very cynical and mean-spirited,” McCarthy notes. Fortunately, “it became cool to be empathetic. [The show] was something people were secretly looking for.”
But the show’s makers didn’t set out to create a crossover sensation, McCarthy adds. “It happened organically. The goal from the start was to build these strong characters in a really immersive world and have this great messaging that friendship is magic — and there are lots of different ways to be a girl. Those messages are universal, no matter your gender or background.”
Even Quibble Pants wouldn’t quarrel with that.
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 2, 2017