My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic “Filli Vanilli”

Oh dear, a Fluttershy episode.

You all know what that means! Get ready for a heavy dose of “D’aww,” and try not to look too pathetic while Fluttershy goes through all the hardships caused by her many anxieties.

Though, perhaps it would be good to soon give Fluttershy another episode where she learns the lesson of “You need to overcome your performance anxiety,” because most of her episodes are about that. But oh well, somehow it keeps being adorable, and you can’t help but feel for the little dear.

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We start off the episode with Fluttershy expressing her inner Disney princess, flying around and singing with all of her animals as she feeds them.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "Filli Vanilli"

That is, until she gets busted by the rest of the Mane Six, who walk in on her singing and express their profound surprise at how good a singer she is. So, um… you never noticed this when all of you guys were randomly breaking into song in other episodes? No? So… we’re just ignoring that? Okay, good, I just wanted to make sure.

The ponies all love Fluttershy’s voice and Rarity likes it so much that she insists that Fluttershy be a part of the singing group she’s suddenly in, called the Ponytones.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "Filli Vanilli"

Predictably enough, the moment that there’s merely the suggestion of Fluttershy having to perform on stage, she becomes terrified. She tells them she can’t do it because she has stage fright. Fluttershy, and everyone reading this article, I’m going to tell you a little secret: Everyone has stage fright! I’ve been singing in choirs and musicals for most of my life, I’ve performed on stage, done serious theatre, stand-up comedy, and sang while dressed up like a clown.

People have often come up to me afterwards to ask why I don’t get afraid doing these things. And the answer is… Dude, are you kidding me? Of course I get afraid! Every time I put something up online, I don’t know how people will react to it. If you’re a performer and you don’t have just a little stage fright when doing something new, it means you basically don’t care what people think of your stuff, which means you don’t even care about the quality of your stuff, which mean you shouldn’t even be on stage!

But what Fluttershy has isn’t ordinary stage fright, or performance anxiety. It’s performance paranoia!

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "Filli Vanilli"

And if you think about it, she’s always had it. Every time people are looking at her, or she’s supposed to perform in one way or another, she gets incredibly scared. (Well, unless it’s during Olympics-like games where she seriously has no chance of winning, apparently…)

And it certainly doesn’t help when Pinkie Pie goes all “Cupcakes” on her. To be honest, after this episode, the possibility of Pinkie Pie secretly being a mass murderer suddenly seems a lot more likely. I know she normally has a couple of screws loose, but this goes beyond the pale.

Still, Rarity and the others accept Fluttershy’s trepidation without pressuring her about it. And that’s already a great lesson. Good job, episode.

But then things starts going wrong the next day, as the Ponytones show up to sing at Fluttershy’s animal fair, and Big Mac (the always important bass voice in the group) has lost his voice in a turkey call contest the day before.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "Filli Vanilli"

Speaking as a singer myself, that’s really unprofessional of him. I don’t even have a beer in the evening if I know I’m supposed to sing the next day. And I’ve lost out on so many prime partying opportunities because of that! Damn you, beer! You delicious golden brew!

So the singing group that was supposed to be the main attraction at Fluttershy’s event can’t perform without their bass voice. What to do? First, they try to fix Big Mac. Luckily for them, there just happens to be a voodoo witch doctor living in the nearby woods.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "Filli Vanilli"

Wow, it’s been a while since we last saw Zecora, which is actually a shame, because I really liked Zecora. Unfortunately, she can’t fix Big Mac’s voice in just one day, but she reminds them that the poison joke (a plant introduced in Zecora’s first appearance, and a play on “poison oak”) has a peculiar effect on Fluttershy: it gives her an amazing bass voice that makes her sound like a large black male.

They come up with a plan to have Fluttershy stay behind the curtain and sing for Big Mac, while Big Mac just lip-syncs to her voice. Fluttershy is of course nervous about this, but she eventually agrees, since she’s quite literally willing to do anything for her animals.

They do it and not only is the experiment a big success, but Fluttershy ends up enjoying it a lot. And I don’t blame her, because singing is fun. In my opinion, it should be socially acceptable to burst into song at any given moment, because it’s impossible to sing and not be happy. If everyone could do it, we would have a lot less miserable people. Well, except for those who would have to endure lots of off-key voices drowning each other out on the street.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "Filli Vanilli"

Fluttershy enjoys secretly singing backstage so much that she gets Rarity to let her do it again and again, and soon she’s doing it every time someone asks for the Ponytones to sing for their special event. And we all know how this is going to end, don’t we?

Soon, Big Mac gets his voice back, but Fluttershy has come to love singing so much that she asks if they can do it one last time. Of course, as you’d expect from a story like this, the last time is always the time where things go wrong. The curtain falls down to expose Fluttershy singing in her Flutter-guy voice.

Caption contributed by Winston


People are elated, and praise Fluttershy for her talent, but all Fluttershy can see in her mind is people laughing at her, and she runs off in tears.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "Filli Vanilli"

Man, it’s always so heartbreaking when Fluttershy cries and Pinkie’s not helping, especially after having gone all psycho on poor Fluttershy earlier in the episode. Pinkie Pie really is one of those characters who changes personality depending on the writer. She’s not always this bloody crazy, I swear!

I do believe that “Pinkie Pride” would have gone a lot differently if the writer of the current episode had written it. I mean, Cheese Sandwich is already the name of something edible, and just use your imagination and go from there. Wait… That was the same writer? Damn, woman, you need to have your head examined!

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "Filli Vanilli"

At last, the ponies manage to calm Fluttershy down, and she can finally admit to herself that she actually really wants to sing, but is letting her own fears control her. So she starts doing something that, in actual psychiatric terms, is called “exponering” (though I think English speakers might know it better as “exposure therapy”).

It’s for patients suffering from anxiety, where you expose yourself little by little to the things that scare you, until you build up a tolerance to the fear that comes with them. I’ve done this myself, except in my case, it’s been about talking to people in large groups… which still makes me shudder. Damn those family get-togethers with family members I would never otherwise feel the need to talk to. What is the point?

So Fluttershy starts out small, and slowly works up the courage to sing for an audience again. Good job, Fluttershy!

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "Filli Vanilli"

This was a slightly above average episode for this show, and of course it’s always very adorable when Fluttershy takes center stage. But we have had this kind of episode a couple of times before with Fluttershy, where she has to overcome her fears to do something, so… it’s not really anything new.

But the story was well told and well written regardless, with some very funny jokes, some good musical numbers, good character interactions, and well, it was just a very enjoyable watch. That would be three out of five ponies for this episode, and a Fluttershy Disney princess for the people.

[—Editing/cleanup/revisions to this article provided by Dr. Winston O’Boogie and Elliot Hodgett.]

TV Show: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

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  • drumstick00m

    “To be honest, after this episode, the possibility of Pinkie Pie secretly being a mass murderer suddenly seems a lot more likely.” Fun Fact: one of the voices of Pinkie Pie also voiced Misa from “Deathnote.” If you did not already know this, please feel free to use this information to make people everywhere, who know what both these cartoons are, cringe.

    • Sofie Liv

      The guy who voices Spike also voiced Near in death-note, so every-thing is possible I guess.

      I am not really surprised she voiced Misa, Misa is a girl with a very high pinched voice, and well.. this voice actress obviously has that kind of voice.

      The thing that stuns me the most is just the resume of the original Japaneese voice actor whom voiced L..
      I almost spilled it, when I found out that the dude voicing Usopp, my favourite One Piece character ALSO voiced L, those two characters just couldn’t be more different.
      And what more did he voice? Oh yeah, Inuyasha and Ranma Saotome, another two characters I grew up with, and are so different from Usopp and L.. his Resume is just insane, a very talented man.
      But dude, that’s just weird.

      Pinkie Pie and Misa, you can see that. Usopp, L and Inuyasha?? erhh.. not only are they on three different extremese in personality, but to me they don’t even sound alike. That voice actor just have a fantastic range!

  • Arturo Garza Flores

    -I feel like some fans have an identity problem with Flutttershy, mainly because they feel that most episodes starring her have very same-y morals, an observation that I don’t buy. I feel like an even bigger problem would be the lack of strong supporting roles for her in other episodes, but that’s a whole different discussion. Over the course of the series, we’ve seen Fluttershy deal with rising to the occasion for her friends, not biting off more than she can chew, speaking with sincerity to her friends, not acting on her own accord despite good intentions, being more assertive, finding self-worth, and not giving into peer pressure (“Flutter On” is one of the few episodes of the show where the main character has the moral high ground from the start). Basically, the vast majority of Fluttershy’s morals are rooted in her awkwardness and insecurities, and complaining about that and not also complain, for example, about how most of Pinkie Pie’s morals are rooted in her extrovertedness and desire to please everyone, or how most of Rainbow Dash’s morals come from her ego clashing with something else, is a very short-sighted assessment of the show’s characters. I don’t think this episode will help their cause much, but frankly it’s their loss.
    -I think this is the first episode since The Show Stoppers that uses music less in a musical format and more in a ,for a lack of a better term, traditional format, where the music is an actual performance being done for an audience. While we have heard Fluttershy (and her friends) singing before, this episode may count as the show introducing us to the notion that Fluttershy is truly passionate about singing.
    -Like mentioned before, a lot of fans have this default image of Fluttershy as not much other than being gentle and meek, but even the show often forgets that she’s passionate about things and is willing to stand her ground for said passions and what she believes in (see also, “Flutter On”). As mentioned above, the main reason why Fluttershy continues to sing is because she truly loves it, despite her stage fright (BTW, bonus points to the audience for not turning into a mob when the truth comes out). It’s nice that this episode reminds us that Fluttershy doesn’t have to be submissive to everything around her.
    -Peter New has a lovely barritone.
    -Zecora is basically here again just to be a plot device, but at least it’s executed better than it was in “Princess Twilight Sparkle”
    -It wouldn’t be an Amy Rogers episode without a good helping of Pinkie Pie ridiculousness (which she’s so good at). Particularly standing out are her turkey call, climbing a wall Spider-Man style, and her reckless use of the word “dude”. I didn’t mind her behavior all that much, mostly because it doesn’t really affect the story and it’s kind of a given that Pinkie talks faster than she thinks. Some have called her a straight-up bully for putting Fluttershy in a corner (twice), but honestly, going off on a bizarre train of thought is pretty par for the course for her. It’s easy to pass Fluttershy as the victim in this scenario, but I feel like her reaction was more exaggerated (for effect) than Pinkie’s rants. Maybe if the scenes had been animated differently, they would’ve had a better tone. Plus, this wouldn’t be the first time Pinkie has made a situation worse by talking more than she should (“Over a Barrel”).
    -This is easily one of the most satisfying episodes on multiple levels. Not only is it adorable, not only is it funny, not only is the music very catchy, not only is it genuinely endearing watching Fluttershy growing into her love of singing, but the lesson is especially poignant and pretty mature for the series. Getting over a fear doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and dedication. Just like that, the show is able to justify how the characters can learn new things while still being their usual personas

  • Cristiona

    Nobody knowing Fluttershy could sing well struck me as odd, too. I could see maybe not noticing when everyone is signing, but she had a solo in Bats! (another one where she had the high ground) and she had a big ole duet with Rainbow Dash in the one where RD got a pet. I guess those times were all in Magical Musical World where bursting out into song doesn’t count as singing. This also isn’t the first time she had stage fright: Hearth’s Warming Eve. Which, um, also had her singing for an audience. But that was more co-leading a sing-along.

  • danbreunig

    Before I get started, Sofie and company, I should say that I’ve finally risen to the challenge and made a Fluttershy-intense accomplishment of my own. I’ve now watched the entire Friendship Is Magic series straight through completely in order from the pilot to now–a very successful two-week crash course. So nothing about this show is lost to me anymore, all references, characters, jokes, and events are understood at last. Now someone please give me my donut, or beer, or hug, or cake, or something dammit! […*huff*…] It’s still feels nice to be armed with an episode before seeing you post your take of it online.

    I haven’t gone all Brony from it, but I can honestly say this turned out to be one of my favorite current shows of the last year or so, complete with episodes I’ll call my all-time favorites and some that I find subpar. I can even think of times (e.g. “Green Isn’t Your Color”) when Pinkie was more…”cupcakes” than she was here. I must admit though this episode was one of the more lackluster ones for me, primarily because Fluttershy’s gone through this level of fear often before, and here the effect is simply more concentrated.

    Interesting that your recap didn’t make mention of how the episode got its title, except in the one screencap (thanks for starting to do that again, guys!). I was around when the Milli Vanilli event happened (which was right around when you were born, if I do the math right), and yes I was one of those young teens who inwardly gladly gloated when the secret got out. Wasn’t much of a fan either of M.V. or any top 20 pop radio of the day–and that’s not geezer talk, that was before I was old enough to drive! So I was surprised that the audience and others of the Mane Six were supportive of Fluttershy’s ability rather than critical of her charade. Big Mac, and really all the Ponytones, were just as responsible for keeping up the charade–which I find more unprofessional than one member abusing his voice the night before.

    This plot–publicly performing music and very intentionally keeping it secret–was done in other kids shows and family sitcoms, and when the secret was revealed, the most common reaction was public scorn. This episode should be a pleasant surprise for doing something different, by not seeing that kind of reaction in FisM–but what would more believably happen, even in a little kids’ fantasy show, would be that the crowd, feeling collectively cheated, would have booed and shamed Fluttershy off stage, where she would be badly heartbroken for the rest of the show until the others comfort her at the end. The moral would then be “don’t try to fool others into thinking you’re something that you’re not”, which was covered before in the show. True, “don’t let your fears stop you from living the life you want” is far more positive–I’m happy to see Fluttershy receive support and sympathy from the other Manes and even the crowd–it’s just that the episode didn’t feel like it was going the way it did. Kind of like an unintentional bait-and-switch.

    I’ll also tell you something first-hand: it’s true you can’t get over your stagefright without trying to perform just a little, but that’s not the only factor. You can’t get over your stagefright without performing a little, and THAT can’t happen when you don’t even get a chance to try to perform in the first place. Some people can’t deal with performance anxiety, not because they don’t want to get better, but because they don’t have or aren’t allowed a chance or outlet to try that little bit of performing to get better. It’s not an issue where to “just do it” can apply to everyone. And going back to this episode’s context, she’s able to deal with her fears less because of her will and more because events unfolded in her favor to allow her to deal with her fears.

    So…cute episode, but not substantial enough for me to call it a classic. Also, if you think Pinkie Pie stands out because of her cupcakes complex, then maybe you haven’t seen what Fluttershy herself is capable of outside the proper show with her shed activities.

    • Sofie Liv

      It was Albert who added that.. because I have NO idea what you are talking about.

      Some-one who every-one thought was a male turned out to be a woman or some-thing?
      I really don’t know, no one took the time to tell me what the episode is referencing. I think I am both to young and to Danish to get it.

      I’ve seen all the episodes, I am well aware of Fluttershy’s repressed anger issues.. dude.. Flutter Hulk..

      And well, for performance.. yes and no.. as my dad so pointedly pointed out, a performer really doesn’t need a stage to perform.

      A stage can’t perform at all, without performers.. it does take a certain kind of courage just to do it for sure.

      But if that is what you really truly want.. there is a way.

      Collecting friends around you, learn to play the guitar in the small.. especially now when we have youtube and whats not, it’s easier than ever.

      I started to make enternet videos myself because I had run into quite the dry spot in my own stage performance carrier, and needed some-thing to help myself being pushed a bit foreward so I wouldn’t fall all back.

      It really depends how bold you are and how able you are to push through your own anxieties. You can always “Just do it.”

      Whether you will succeed ind doing some-thing great or not is another story, but at least you did some-thing.

      And yeah, I thought it was a pretty cute episode to, and that’s.. kind of it at this point.

      • Muthsarah

        “It was Albert who added that.. because I have NO idea what you are talking about.

        Some-one who every-one thought was a male turned out to be a woman or some-thing? I
        really don’t know, no one took the time to tell me what the episode is referencing. I think I am both to young and to Danish to get it.”

        OK, that’s adorable. Getting Milli Vanilli and The Crying Game mixed up. Sort of.

        To put it simply: Milli Vanilli was a pop duo from Germany, who got really, really popular circa 1990. They were already considered kind of suspicious (and, to be blunt, silly) by many of their non-fans, because they were two model-ish black guys with long hair and very thick German accents (EDIT: Actually, after double-checking, one of them was French). Then, they were caught lip-syncing in a concert, when the track got caught and kept saying “Girl, you know it’s…girl, you know it’s…”. Their popularity crashed and burned as everyone pounced on them, and their very name became a punch line for years.

        Hence, FILLI Vanilli for an episode about a pony getting caught lip-syncing. Flutters got off easy here. I saw this episode title coming, and I could tell what it was gonna be about. Pretty fun episode, though I haven’t yet seen the previous Flutterguy one.

        • Sofie Liv

          I was born in December 1989.. so if that happened in 1990.. there is possible a good reason why I wouldn’t remember that -_-;

          Thanks for that story though, sounds hillarious. And pretty damn stupid of them.

          Oh the previous flutterguy episode is one of the classics regarded as one of the best episodes, it’s called. “Bridle gossip.” as I said, a fan favourite, go check it out :)

          • Muthsarah

            Eh, I don’t remember it either. I was alive, but still trying to walk around without pooping. But like I said, it was talked about for years afterwards. And having older siblings guaranteed I learned about stuff I wouldn’t have on my own. I was sneaking MTV at four.

            It was just the kind of thing you’d expect from a manufactured band. “What?! You mean these two strange pretty boys who came out of nowhere and are suddenly being promoted all over aren’t ACTUALLY that talented? I are shock!”

            Cool, I’ll check it out.

          • Sofie Liv

            Heh, I am the oldest, I only got one sibling and she’s my little sister, so well.. nope, not there.

            And my dad does music himself, though he is of the beetles genneration, so that’s the kind of stuff he cares about. He doesn’t care about pop, are you kidding me!?

            What, you mean that pop musicians in genneral aren’t that talented? So little so that they need fucking audio tune when they sing, both on the cd and on stage.

            Christ I hate audio tune, grrr, it’s just.. so.. sooooo cheap, it’s cheating at its worth.

            When I listen to music, I want actual singers whom can sing, dammit.

          • David F White

            Born in 1989?? I was Flunking out of Ramapo College at that time!! Same year my life fell apart!! 3 months later, MY family moved to Egan Minnesota!!!

          • Sofie Liv

            World is strange that way huh?

            But yeah, yeah, I am young and stuff. I’m 24, so yeah..

          • danbreunig

            There’s a bit more to it, but thanks Muthsarah for starting the brief pop culture history lesson.

            Lip syncing in concert is always happening off and on with singing and dancing pops stars–and singing *while* heavily dancing onstage just makes such performances so much more suspicious. Milli Vanilli was no exception, but it didn’t stop there.

            The real controversy was those two models and “singers” never physically performed on the album in any form. They were just there for a cover shot, lip-synced dancing, and interview fodder. The event itself really opened up what happens in the pop music world–i.e. this happens all the time and authenticity in major pop-dance singers can’t always be trusted. Another group from the same timeframe was the boy band New Kids On The Block (the One Direction of 1990) and they also had an incident of getting caught onstage lip-syncing the wrong song. Then Ms. Simpson some years after that, and so forth.

            So that’s how we tie into “Filli Vanilli”. I still think that all the Ponytones–Big Mac, Fluttershy, etc.–should have received some humiliation because they were effectively cheating their audience. They could still be professional by announcing to their audience that they either need to postpone the show or else have an temporary replacement for Mac. The audience may be upset for the moment, but it’s more honest and humble. This is a case where I wouldn’t necessarily cut Fluttershy as much slack as she got.

            For what it’s worth, I was born in April 1974 (well, I would have to admit it sooner or later in a Booth forum, why not now?) so I knew about 1990 pop events not because I was of fan of Milli Vanilli and their like, but because I couldn’t get away from all that current stuff in the spotlight. When I got home from school it was straight to classic rock radio (music five to ten years old by that point) for me.

          • Sofie Liv

            It’s not like the pony-tones were any kind of professional group, we never saw them asking for money, we know all the members in it has other jobs, it’s only their hobby and the only did it to please the people around them, not to gain any attention for themselves.

            I do think it’s pretty important to look at the huge difference between people who does things for a living and people whom does it as merely their hobby without asking any-thing from it.

            If you are a professional, and get a pay-check for your job, it’s your duty to do the best you can, and it’s your duty to be a professional.

            But if you are not professional, and you are just doing it for the fun and joy of it.. well.. Do it for the fun and joy of it and shoot a hole in every-thing else.

            Especially with music I run into this paradox, that when I am out, at maybe Larp games, and some-one wants to sing larp songs for the fun of it in front of others, but doesn’t quite hit the right tones.

            Some snooty person has to comment at how unprofessional it is and they should stop.

            In which case I have to say. “Dude! we are all here to play and have fun! and they are allowed to sing, so shut up and let them.”

            But then when I am out on a stage, with an actual audience in front of me, whom exspects a good performance, there can also be some idiot around whom thinks she can totally go on stage without prober rehearsel, and I just want to slap that kid.

            It’s all a matter of situation really, have a feeling for the situation.

            And in the case of this episode, I don’t feel like any-body did any-thing wrong at all.

          • danbreunig

            I see your point there, about the professionalism when it’s due. If they’re singing just for fun, then it shouldn’t matter if the shy singer backstage is secretly filling in. *However*:

            by that very logic we shouldn’t say at the same time that Mac was being unprofessional because he wrecked his voice the night before while doing another favorite activity. Maybe he did it many times before off camera with no bad result, and this was the one time–ironically when there happens to be an audience watching (i.e. we the viewers)–when he finally pushed his voice to the point of breaking.

            Now I’m discussing musical professionalism in an adult-loved kids show. Who says FIM can’t be deep in its own way?

            I agree with you about one thing, though–I hate the fucking auto-tune, too.

            Remember singers with natural voices?…or keyboardists playing whole songs throughout with real fingers…or drummers playing whole kits with all limbs…or when pop music fads took only three or four years to finally die out?

  • Cristiona

    One point I forgot to make:

    This show does some really wonderful visuals, usually based around fears and the eyes, and it goes all the way back to the pilot, which had both (the haunted trees in the first and Twilight’s eye beams with the elements). Likewise, this episode with the disembodied heads mocking Fluttershy (itself a call back to the episode where she was afraid to participate in the water tornado thing) was some great artwork. I think it was a great visual metaphor for the oppressive feelings extreme stage fright can inflict.

    …she said, talking about cartoon ponies.

    • Sofie Liv

      I have to agree with that.
      It is a definit strong point of the show that the creators clearly have a lot of fun with it.
      And in fact, for those whom wants to take the time, there is usually a lot of background gags going on you don’t necesarily notice at first.

      Just take in Pinkie Pride, while Pinkie Pie and Cheese Sandwich is challenging each other to that good off thing.
      Derpy is standing in the background having an intense starring contest with Cheese sandwich’s rubber chicken.
      No-body acknolwedged it, she just have her own little contest going on back there, and there are tons of small details like that, the further we move into the series the more they get to do, so that’s a lot of fun to :)

  • John Wilson

    Was this pick because of Mr Mendo “Mili villna” ep:)

    • MichaelANovelli

      I say, “Yes!”

  • JD

    man they have a lot of parties in ponyville

    • danbreunig

      And that’s even without Pinkie in the mix.

  • Arturo Garza Flores

    Are you going to continue these columns?