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.

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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.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "Simple Ways"

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.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "Simple Ways"

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.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "Simple Ways"

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.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "Simple Ways"

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!

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "Simple Ways"

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.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "Simple Ways"

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.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "Simple Ways"

Finally, Applejack decides two can play at the dress-up game. So she dolls herself up just like Rarity, and calls herself “Applejewel”.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "Simple Ways"

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.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "Simple Ways"

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.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "Simple Ways"

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.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic "Simple Ways"

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.]

TV Show: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

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  • MichaelANovelli

    Is this the one where Rarity goes nuts and jumps into a mud puddle? Because if it is, someone linked me that scene on YouTube, the other day!

    • Yep. She went full-on Derpy the second and jumped into the mud puddle after an identity crisis. We’ve all done it, Friday night, bit drunk!

  • jbwarner86

    How the fuck did they get that shot of Applejack past the censors?

    I was surprised to see this plot on the show, because I remember reading somewhere that Lauren Faust didn’t want any lovey-dovey stories for the Mane Six. But it’s a great episode anyway, so I got no complaints. They kept it true to the characters – Rarity’s the only one who really cares anything about romance in the first place, so this sort of story doesn’t seem out of sorts for her. And seeing her trying to out-Applejack Applejack is hilarious. Tabitha St. Germain puts on this perfectly terrible imitation of a Southern twang that had me giggling like a lunatic.

    Also, I like that Trenderhoof considers Derpy to be “under-appreciated”. Maybe by some people.

    • MichaelANovelli

      What would a horse even call a “money shot?” “Making her oats,” perhaps?

  • Cristiona

    I thought this episode was pretty middle of the road, too.

    That being said, my first thought when I saw Trenderhoof was that he was a total hipster douchebro. I’d like to think Rarity would have better taste than that. I mean, Prince Blueblood was a dickwad, but she didn’t know that at first. She’s gone from swooning over royalty to the dork at Starbucks.

    Come on, Rarity! Expand your horizons! Give the dragon a shot!

  • Arturo Garza Flores

    -I feel like the episode had all the right ingredients to be one of the funniest episodes in the entire show right out of the box, but then, there was a voice in the back of my head about halfway through the episode that kept going “Why isn’t this funny?”
    -I think the root of the problem is Trenderhoof, in that there isn’t much character for the viewer to be engaged with him. He starts out fine as he’s conversing with Rarity, but the moment he goes gaga for AJ, he has nothing to do but to follow her around trying to get her attention. Considering that he’s the prime motivation for Rarity’s actions, and by association also Applejack, in this story, there isn’t enough character to keep me engaged or make me believe that he’s the kind of guy for whom everything Rarity does in this episode is worth doing, especially when he disappears for most of Act 3 and then the story decides to give him some kind of arc.
    -Applejack is fine throught most of this episode, simply being herself, which means that it’s up to Rarity to carry the rest of the episode, but unfortunately, she falls completely flat on her face.
    -Rarity’s attempts at impressing TH are awkward at best and cringe-inducing at worst. I feel like having this whole thing being intentionally awful, right down to Rarity’s fake southern accent, is supposed to be part of the joke, but unfortunately the joke isn’t very funny at all.
    -It would help if Rarity was actually trying to imitate AJ, but honestly, it feels more like she’s either trying to imitate a bad pastiche of AJ or trying to incorporate said pastiche of AJ into a style that suits her own personality. It started out pretty sad, but escalated into downright infuriating when it stuck me that the episode is telling us that her “Rarihick” appearance is apparently the way she sees one of her closest friends, basically less Jessie from Toy Story and more Cletus from The Simpsons. What the fuck?!
    -And yes, having her accuse AJ for trying to steal TH away from her is mean spirited for all the wrong reasons. Also, her friends keep pointing out how she’s slacking off with the Ponyville Days festival, yet it never comes back to bite her in the butt. Again, what the fuck?!
    -We’ve seen episodes where Rarity is mean and scornful to her friends, but the reason it worked in, say, “Manehattan” is because of our understanding of how important fashion is to her. All of Rarity’s bad behavior in this episodes comes from wrongfully feeling that one of her best friends is trying to steal a guy the audience has no familiarity with and hasn’t come to understand if there’s something that makes him special as a character. This is easily the most hateful portrayal of Rarity since Sonic Rainboom.

    So, after all this, why do I think this episode is still redeemable?

    When I heard that name and saw the lights go down, I exclaimed out loud, expecting to be blown away by what was to come, and it was everything I could’ve asked for and more. It’s very funny in and of itself how AJ is better at imitating Rarity than Rarity is at imitating AJ (I’ve been kinda waiting for the show to make a callback to AJ’s backstory from Cutie Mark Chronicles). It’s the funniest and most unexpected thing the show has ever done with AJ, and easily one of the best standalone scenes of any episode of the show. The scene is so good, I think it redeems the rest of the episode, and makes it rewatchable. It’s worth it just for that scene, even if you have to sit through the rest of it.
    -Oh yeah, Spike was pretty good as well.

    -Also, since Sofie dropped the gauntlet, yes some more Flash Sentry would be nice.

    • Cristiona

      Actually, Rarity’s accent was perfect for what it was: A high-class society girl trying desperately to do a southern accent and failing miserably. Granted, Rarity has the advantage of knowing someone with a country accent, so it should have been better, but she’s also trying to out-country AJ, so she finds herself deep in the hinterlands of parody.

      I’ve known quite a few people who have never heard a southern accent outside of television and movies try to do one. They always, always fail miserably. A lot of people don’t seem to realise that a “southern accent” isn’t a thing outside of HeeHaw and Po’Folks. Different states (more accurately, different regions) have different flavors of the accent; someone from Charleston, South Carolina sounds very little like someone from Elizabethtown, Kentucky; and neither of them sound like someone from Arab, Alabama (pronounced ay-RAB, for what it’s worth).

      So while Rarity’s accent was a cringe inducing pastiche, it was supposed to be. She’s a New York fashionista trying to sound like a Missouri dirt farmer. It’s just as cringe inducing in real life.

      • Arturo Garza Flores

        I see your point. I mentioned in my comment that I feel that’s part of the joke, but it just plain isn’t a funny joke, especially when Applejack simply goes all the way with her Rarity parody.

  • JD

    Poor Spike.
    maybe he will give up chasing Rarity