Every once in a while, a show pops up that’s worth getting into. This differs from person to person; some prefer Adventure Time, others like The Regular Show, and still more seem to find a morbid fascination with Hannah Montana. Whatever someone’s disposition towards a show, it’s the merits that reach the target audience which are most commonly measured.
Hannah Montanta definitely reaches its target audience, but does it branch out past that? Is there really anything more to the show that’s alluring to anyone other than pre-teen to teen females? Not so much. There is, however, a lot of allure from Adventure Time and The Regular Show, which draw crowds that are not part of the intended target audience.
Enter ponies. It has already been established that the target audience is being reached here, as well as other audiences, which is always a welcome addition to any series. Why, then, do we need Equestria Girls?
A spinoff series is typically created when a company intends to reach a new target audience other than those attracted by their original show, though they uncommonly are made for more of the same audience. Teen Titans was intended for teenagers of either gender, whereas the spinoff, Teen Titans Go!, is intended for children of either gender. This is an attempt to branch out and diversify to reach new viewers that previously weren’t interested in anything being offered. This is a great marketing strategy, provided the target audience finds interest in the spinoff.
Equestria Girls’ existence is simple, when you think about it: Hasbro wants to reach a new target audience. Who? Pre-teen to teen females. Everything that is being created in Equestria Girls is geared for young women between the ages of 8 and 20, I’d estimate. This is an audience that Hasbro feels a need to aim their new show at in an attempt to get more viewers, more funding, and more money in their wallets. There’s nothing wrong with this; we all earn money from our jobs, and we always want more.
Do we need Equestria Girls? Personally, I don’t think so. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is already a very diverse show that is reaching unprecedented popularity outside of its target audience, so the show is already considered a commercial success in addition to its slowly rising viewer count.
For those who like Adventure Time, consider, for a moment, if they did a spinoff series about Marceline. This spinoff would have a much darker undertone than Adventure Time, something that could only be hinted at prior, considering the target audience. This would, of course, attract a target audience not aimed for by the original series, the new attracted generally being older males.
The same is being done with Equestria Girls. Adventure Time and ponies actually make a striking parallel here; the difference is that Adventure Time hasn’t announced a spinoff at this point, and Adventure Time’s target audience is supposed to be young males, whereas ponies is for young females.
All right, enough about other series. What about Equestria Girls itself.? We already established that it’s for pre-teen to teen females. How much time is there in transition age from ponies to Equestria Girls? None whatsoever. There is no age gap for females to not watch something with the Mane 6 in it. A brilliant marketing strategy, don’t you think? They keep their target audience of the original show to keep watching the new series because it has the same characters, but a newer, more mature setting.
Add onto this that the Mane 6 are phenomenally imagined, their personalities and behaviors so human-esque and relatable, and turning them into humans is almost a shoe-in. Brining logic into the picture, it would make more sense to be someone human-like to more easily parallel yourself to than a pony, wouldn’t it? Perhaps not for bronies, but hey, it’s Hasbro’s IP, and it makes sense on paper. The anthropomorphism I can only imagine being Hasbro attempting to reach out to the “furry” audience; if fanart has taught me anything, however, it’s that ponies in human form can still look incredibly cute, and I feel Hasbro really missed the mark when they decided on anthro characters, as full human would likely appeal to a wider audience.
All things considered, however, it’s still quite early to be making predictions on the new series. So far, we have three pictures (only one of which has been confirmed by Hasbro, to my knowledge) and about a small article’s worth of information on the spinoff. Despite the wild popularity of ponies for all audiences across the board, it may still be the victim of a crummy spinoff… or it may not. Waiting and seeing is key.
Spinoffs do occasionally work; Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s spinoff, Angel, has apparently achieved some widespread popularity, although they were both intended for the same target audience. However, the creative spark that goes into making a series needs to be maintained when the spinoff is created, or it will crash and burn relatively quickly. This is the part that worries me most.
When ponies was created, Lauren Faust implanted a creative spark in the show that made it something special. She put a lot of thought and care into her new world, its characters, and the interactions therein. Equestria Girls seems gimmicky. Ridiculous. Poorly thought out. Completely unlike its predecessor. This is what Hasbro needs to focus on not letting happen. The moment that spark of creativity is squelched, The End of the Creator-Driven Era in Animation will become a reality.
I have faith in Hasbro and the production crews of both ponies and Equestria Girls that they won’t let this new show be as bad as we fear it to be. I will retain my optimistic hope that the show will still be pretty good, or, dare I say, great.
My suggestion: Hope for and expect the best, but don’t hold your breath. It never did anybody any good to fear the worst all the time, but spinoffs do work occasionally, even when the changes are quite drastic. The fandom in general prides itself on approaching things with an open mind, and judging the spinoff to the point where we don’t even watch the previews is a pretty big rescindence of acceptance. To put this in simpler terms, proceed with caution. Optimistic caution.