Thursday, May 15, 2014

Supernatural is My Little Pony for Girls

     Wait, wait, wait, come back! I can back that up. I have sound logic behind that bizarre statement, I promise!

     So some years back now, Hasbro rebooted the My Little Pony franchise for its Hub network under the supervision of animator Lauren Faust. It was full of rounded, varied female lead characters, lots of bright colors, and stories with warm and fuzzy morals. It was also pretty well written for what was supposedly targeted at such a young crowd. And despite being targeted at young girls, it caught on with older viewers of both genders.

     Some years even before that, a show called Supernatural was launched. It's a show focused around a brotherly bro-mance, hunting monsters, going on adventures, and driving around in a classic Impala listening to classic rock. It's dark, violent, and full horrific imagery. It also caught on like wildfire among the female demographic.

     On paper, each of these shows could not be more different, but the way they've been embraced by viewers and fans not only outside of their intended demographic, but the nearly polar opposite of that intended demographic, is startling. On paper, you couldn't convince me that pastel ponies having non-violent adventures would appeal to grown men, and you couldn't convince me that the bloody, bro-fueled horror adventures set to AC/DC and Kansas would be such a hit among women. Even if Sam and Dean are amongst the prettiest men on television.

     The resemblances don't stop there. We've all heard of the more questionable side of MLP fandom. The plushy with the "pocket" in the rear end. The Rule34 fan art. The people that don't make it into the brony documentaries. But the Supernatural fandom can be... well..

     So one of the main draws of the show is the brotherly chemistry between Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, and in later seasons the cameraderie between Jensen and Misha Collins's Castiel. The deeper parts of Supernatural fandom are full of slash fiction of of Sam and Dean, and the Castiel/Dean slash shippers have gotten vocal enough that Ackles himself refuses to address the issue anymore, earning him the ire of such esteemed 'news outlets' as DailyDot and pretty much half of Tumblr.

     That's not to say it's all unpleasant fandom, though. Both shows have pretty dedicated following, and some of the fan-art and music to come out of the MLP crowd is pretty impressive. There's a long running joke that the Supernatural fandom has a response gif for any situation. MLP has brought together some otherwise unpopular and awkward people and formed some friendships in the real world.

     But when it comes right down to it, these are two shows which were clearly marketed to a specific demographics that defied odds and became a hit in a completely other demographic. So, back to my original point: Supernatural is My Little Pony for girls. Makes sense now, at least to me. Is this just a pair of successes in marketing and development for the respective programs, or is it a triumph in fandoms bucking what's expected of them and showing love for something not necessarily "created for them?"

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