JUG Interviews: Meghan McCarthy, head writer of My Little Pony:Friendship is Magic (Part 1)

I want to tell you a story.

About one year ago, I sat down on the couch with my daughter to watch some television.  Really, I just wanted her to watch, as I need a few moments of quiet time to myself, y’know….so I could finish the level I was on in Angry Birds.  Or, at least that’s how it goes in my mind.  I flipped channels until we made it to The Hub, where we stopped, captured by images of multi-colored ponies frolicking on screen.  My daughter begged me to stop, so stop I did, and together, we watched our first episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  As she snuggled in my lap, I put down my iPad and started to watch, and there, for a brief moment, we were quiet together, taking in the story.  I’m not sure which episode we watched that day, but soon, we found ourselves watching together more often.  As luck would have it, this Daddy found himself being drawn into the world of Equestria, at first to be familiar with his daughter’s new favorite thing, but eventually because he started to fall in love with the show, as well.  Now, one year later, I teeter precariously on the edge of full on bronydom, having recently bought a Pinkie Pie and Derpy Hooves shirt from WeLoveFine, and also having downloaded the new My Little Pony iOS app from GameLoft, which my wife and I now can’t stop playing.  The question is, why, oh why, do I love My Little Pony?

The answer is simple: joy.

One thing you notice from watching My Little Pony is that the episodes are full of joy.  It’s hard to find well written cartoons, much less well written cartoons for girls, but this series is a triumph in that area.  In fact, it was on the first things that pulled me in.  The writing was smart, sassy, intelligent, funny, and clever.  It was as if the series transcended the normal reason for it’s existence (which is to sell plastic ponies) and become something much, much more; a living, breathing entity of it’s own.  I credit that in part to the cast and crew of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (MLFFIM from here on).  From developer Lauren Faust down to the voice actors, animators, and other crew, there is a sense of something special here, that more than just making a tv show for kids so they will go buy the Mane Six in all their variations.  I can appreciate that.

Joy came as well from watching my daughter laugh and play as watched the shows, re-enacting them later with her own ponies that we did inevitably have to purchase.  Knowing that she’s learning lessons about being a good friend, finding worth in herself, and helping others is worth the price of admission on this show, especially since they aren’t being shoehorned in to dialogue exiting the mouth of wasp-waisted fashion models or zombie cheerleaders.  No, there’s not pressure to look like a pony coming from this show, just a reminder of the joy of friendship and finding your place in the world.

So, there it is.  I’m out.  I’m a brony, and I’m proud of it.  I love the show, I love the characters, and I love that I get to share it all with my little girl.  So, imagine my excitement when I got the chance last week to sit down for a phone interview with none other than Meghan McCarthy, the head writer of MLPFIM.  I’m sure the SQUEEEEE of happiness was able to be heard for miles. We here at JustUs Geeks had originally planned to share this interview with you in audio form, but technical difficulties prevent us from doing that.  Meghan was a wonderful, gracious interviewee, dealing with my trip ups and audio problems with grace, and so it’s our honor to present to you the first part of my interview with Meghan McCarthy, head writer of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic!

Marty: What made you realize you loved cartoons?

Meghan: Oh gosh, ummm…I loved them as a kid.  I didn’t think of it much in the sense of a medium, it was just part of the collective entertainment and some of the earlier things I was interested in were cartoons.  And then, I wasn’t that into animation as I got older, I became a really big Star Wars fan, and stuff like that.  But then, I ended up marrying someone that is a huge animation fan, huge comic book fan, and kind of reintroduced me to it, and so I fell back in love.

Marty: What was your favorite cartoon as a kid?

Meghan: I was a big Smurfs fan, and I was a big Dungeons and Dragons fan.  I really liked He-man and, I remember they had a contest one time where you could design your own He-man character, and I couldn’t draw at all, (laughter) but I was so excited to win that contest!  I did not win, nor should I have, but that was part of the whole fun of it.

Marty: So, when did you realize that you wanted to write?

Meghan: I loved writing ever since fourth grade. I started writing poetry then, and had a really good English teacher, and that helped.  Actually, when I was in the third grade I started my own newspaper. So, it’s always been something that I was really into, and then, I kinda didn’t think what I could do when I grew up, and I was into science for awhile, and Space Camp, and at one point I was going to be a lawyer, and had all these different things, and I realized that I usually changed my mind about what I wanted to do when I grew up after I saw it in a movie, and then I realized MAYBE that’s what you want to do, you want to be everything, and a good way to do that is to be a writer, where you get to explore lots of different things.

Marty: Next question: What’s the best part about working on My Little Pony, for you?

Meghan: Gosh! I just love that we get to see how really big a kid’s story can be, that they can really mean something. One of the unique things about this show is really that every episode does have sort of a lesson, but they’re not, y’know, “another very special episode” of My Little Pony.  They are within a really funny, fun, sometimes huge adventure story, but they have a genuinely good, nice explanation, and I like that I get to play a part in that.

Marty: Do you have a favorite episode?

Meghan: Let’s see, I have a favorite one that I wrote, just to let you know, Party of One, that I had the most fun writing, but I like the pilot a lot.  I think it’s big and fun and such a great introduction to these characters and you just get it right away, what the show is and where it’s going.

 

Look for the second part of our interview with Meghan McCarthy later on this week!

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