My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic “Simple Ways”
Well, it had to happen at some point. I mean, this is a show for little girls, after all, and it can’t completely escape all the clichés that come along with that. And so we have “Simple Ways”, which is basically a love triangle plot. Oh, joy.
Except, well, what’s so good about My Little Pony is that yes, it does indulge in “Girl Show Tropes”, but when it does them, it does them pretty well. I personally don’t have anything against love triangles as a general plot. After all, it’s something that happens a lot in real life. Love is one of the messiest things in the entire world, and it deserves plenty of exploration not just in fiction but in children’s media as well.
The problem is, it’s so easy to get this kind of story sooooo wrong, and more often than not, it’s written absolutely terribly, ending up as more of a stupid, lovey-dovey fantasy dream than anything that actually resembles real-life relationships. But to this show’s credit, it handles it way better in a twenty-minute episode than a certain billion-dollar Hollywood franchise did in five movies.
Since I already talked about what an abomination Twilight is (not the pony Twilight, she’s a genuinely good female role model), let’s just get on with the episode, which does a far better job at presenting the consequences of immature crushes.
We start off in the town square of Ponyville, where they’re announcing who will be the “Pony of Ceremonies” for the upcoming Ponyville Days festival. Basically, the Pony of Ceremonies is the one who’s going to plan and host this entire huge festival.
And the winner is… Rarity! She’s so surprised that she makes her love slave Spike roll out a scale model version of the festival that she happens to have already had made. The theme Rarity is going with is “Small Town Chic”, blending the small town feel of Ponyville with the stylish couture she loves so much.
This festival is especially important for Rarity because a famous travel writer named “Trenderhoof” is coming to town, who Rarity appears to have a crush on. I’m mainly going by the huge shrine she built in his honor. Okay… umm… Well, at least she hasn’t resorted to locking him in her basement and saying it puts the lotion on its skin.
Trenderhoof’s train arrives and Rarity gets the nervous jitters, and totally faints when he speaks to her. But he seems nice enough, and things are going well as Rarity shows him the town, starting with Sweet Apple Acres.
There, Trenderhoof notices Applejack for the first time and immediately becomes smitten with her, and we see how she appears through his love-struck eyes. Oh, dear god, no. No! Please, show, do not sexualize Applejack like this! You’ve got enough creepy fans as it is. Don’t encourage them!
In all seriousness though, I do find it kind of funny how the episode presents all of Applejack’s most disgusting, sweaty features as sexy and desirable. And apparently, it’s also Trenderhoof’s thing, because he falls head over hooves in love with Applejack and instantly forgets that Rarity even exists.
This of course upsets Rarity, and soon she’s crying her heart out to little Spike. Spike, who’s always been insanely in love with her, and has done everything she’s ever asked of him, including carrying around a mountain of luggage in Manehattan, and now he gets to listen to this shit too. Rarity says that Spike has no idea what it’s like to have feelings for a pony who only has feelings for somepony else, and Spike simply gives us a priceless look that says it all.
I’m with you, Spike; you don’t deserve this. Your patience and loyalty to her is beyond admirable at this point. But Rarity is not just going to sit around crying—she intends to do whatever it takes to win Trenderhoof back. Even though he was never hers to begin with, and all indications are that she was never anything more than a creepy, obsessed fan. But despite this, she decides to go all Applejack to win Trenderhoof’s heart.
She completely tosses aside her “Small Town Chic” theme in favor of a theme she calls “Simple Ways”: It basically looks like an episode of Hee Haw, and she and Spike wear stupid straw hats and denim overalls and Rarity even imitates Applejack’s accent. Naturally, Applejack just laughs at Rarity’s transparent, Taylor Swift-like attempt at pretending to be country, which just makes Rarity more determined to keep up the facade.
Finally, Applejack decides two can play at the dress-up game. So she dolls herself up just like Rarity, and calls herself “Applejewel”.
The two then get into a ridiculous face-off trying to outdo each other in taking on each others’ personas. Eventually, this breaks Rarity’s brain and snaps her back to reality, and she realizes how absolutely ridiculous her behavior has been.
Applejack then has to explain to Trenderhoof that she’s simply not interested in him, even though it appears he’s also tried to take on a fake farmer-like appearance just to impress her. As you’d expect, it’s up to Rarity to inform him that you should never try to be somepony you’re not.
Rarity goes back to being her true self, just in time to put on the classy, Gatsby-esque soiree she was planning from the start. Trenderhoof has a perfectly nice evening dancing with Granny Smith, and the night ends with a fashion show where Rarity gets a rose from Trenderhoof.
So there you have it: Rarity had a silly little crush, which didn’t need to be elaborated on once it was over, something a lot of this show’s young viewers will probably soon be experiencing themselves. Though, when it happens to them, I hope it involves a lot less wearing of denim overalls. That’s just not a good look for anybody.
The episode was nice, but didn’t stand out as anything special and doesn’t really have any lasting impact. It’s just average for this show. The message is of course pretty good and rings true, but we’ve already seen it done a million times before on other shows, and this old story feels… well, old to me.
But I hope that now that it’s over with, we don’t have to bother with this kind of story on this series again. It happened, the show did well enough with the material, but I don’t think there was any way to make this story memorable. It’s kind of dull, actually, and thus below average for this show. So that would be two out of five ponies.
So this means that currently, only one out of the Mane Six has an established romance that may actually go somewhere later. Will Flash Sentry ever show up again and bump into Twilight? Who knows?
[—Editing/cleanup/revisions to this article provided by Dr. Winston O’Boogie and Elliot Hodgett.]