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Old 04-23-2019, 08:42 PM
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The success of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.


As you know, My Little Pony took the world by storm when it came out. The question is, why? What contributed to its success? I'm pretty sure nobody expected the show to become as popular as it has.
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Old 04-24-2019, 12:01 AM
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I don't think that it has taken the world by storm. It is something meme-able that became internet-popular but has virtually no impact at all outside of select bubbles.

Like a suprising number of internet fads (and fads that spill out into the real world) non-little girl fandom started on 4chan. It started as trolling/hate-watching, but people began to realize that it is actually pretty-well written, started actually discussing it, and a community grew up around that, as communities tend to do when there are people reinforcing each other's interest in a subject. (The thread I linked really is worth reading if you want a brief history.)

Last edited by Darren Garrison; 04-24-2019 at 12:01 AM.
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Old 04-24-2019, 12:11 AM
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As you know, My Little Pony took the world by storm when it came out. The question is, why? What contributed to its success? I'm pretty sure nobody expected the show to become as popular as it has.
My only expertise in this is having a 6 year old daughter, and having watched the show with her a few times. It is pretty good, as far as kid's cartoons go. It combines the cutesy pony stuff, which is probably why my 6 year old likes it, with somewhat sophisticated stories and dialogue. I mean, it's not Breaking Bad or anything, but it is much, much more palatable to an adult than something like Paw Patrol. I think it does manage to hit that magic kid's show mark of stories simple enough for young children to understand, but enough side jokes, allegory, and deep pony lore that it isn't completely boring to older viewers.

It also manages to not come across as a 22 minute toy ad. Sure, we've got a box of pony shaped plastic in our house, but the show isn't setup as "here's a new toy to buy" (I'm looking at you, 1980s Transformers), but rather "here are some fun characters having adventures, also you can buy them."

Also, it's on Netflix.

As far as background on what the deal is with Bronies, I have no idea.

Last edited by echoreply; 04-24-2019 at 12:13 AM.
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Old 04-24-2019, 12:34 AM
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Myself, I had for years seen MLP characters used in avatars and memes (especially at wonkette.com) and hearing jokes about adult male fans, so I finally broke down and started looking for clips on Youtube. At first I watched clips of songs from episodes (some of which were pretty catchy) then discovered whole recent episodes that they hadn't caught and deleted yet (the first full episode I ever saw was season 5, episode 23, a take-off on the Hatfields and McCoys.) Then I found myself watching the other 3 or 4 full episodes on Youtube, then "finding" some of the episodes some of the songs came from, then watching 10 or 20 more, then 50 or 60 more...



Some of the songs are pretty clever parodies. For instance, look at this song from The Music Man and this one from MLP. Or this and this. Probably a lot of other people got into it the same way, giving it a look because of all the hype, then being drawn in.



(More posts to come--I have had Thoughts on this.)
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Old 04-24-2019, 01:26 AM
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Also a big factor, I think, is ascended fanon. The writers/producers of the show read the fan forums and adopt ideas from there, bringing back/giving more emphasis to favored background ponies, for instance. The show often does something kinda different with ponies in crowd scenes (sort of like "easter eggs") and viewers keep an eye out for thise moments. Fans jokingly make names and backstories for the unnamed ponies in the crowd scenes, and those become canon. For instance, there was an unnamed background pony with a lyre for a "cutie mark" that the fans named Lyra. Then a toy version came out named Heartstrings. Until Hasbro officially renamed it Lyra Heartstrings. And the second episode of the series was uploaded to Youtube, and the auto-captioning software mangled some words into "Steven Magnet", the words displayed while an unnamed sea serpent character was on-screen. Fans of course found that hilarious and memed it extensively. A mangled software captioning from a pirated YouTube video became the official name for the character. And volumes could be written about fan/creator interactions on Derpy Hooves. So I think that the combination of memeability and a sense of interactivity with the creative team is a huge part of it--the fan influence on the characters and storylines of the shows is something that I can't really think of happening to such a degree elsewhere.
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Old 04-24-2019, 01:13 PM
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I like it because it's generally well written, has interesting characters and is sometimes humorous. The fact that it's about a fantasy universe helps as well. Most importantly, to me, is that sometimes it's ridiculously cute.
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Old 04-24-2019, 07:25 PM
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I had a kid and other family the perfect ages for it when it came out. When you have to watch stuff with your kids, stuff YOU like too makes a huge difference.

I actually have missed the last few episodes because the kids have mostly outgrown it, but it was so good the first few seasons that I would have watched it even with no kids in my life. (I felt it went down in quality when they added that stupid Starlight Glimmer or whatever her name is and I really didn't enjoy the movie. Equestria Girls is better than it, imo.)

The music is super catchy. It coincided with tech in a way that we could watch an episode and five minutes later I could rip the song off of youtube and put it on my phone for us to listen to MLP playlists in the car or whatever. New songs every week, new characters every week. Running jokes. Sight gags. Jokes and guests stars for adults.

What's not to like?

ps my username comes from a line in the S1 finale major musical number. I don't know if I ever laughed so hard before or since at an animated episode of anything. It defied all my expectations and as an adult, I find that hard to come by in my grown up shows. I mean, at my age I've seen it all and to be surprised by a plot is one of my favorite things.
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Old 04-24-2019, 07:33 PM
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And now that the kid is old enough to get into the MCU, I like to provide much embarrassment in front of friends by referring to the Infinity Stones as the Elements of Harmony.
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Old 04-24-2019, 08:14 PM
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ps my username comes from a line in the S1 finale major musical number.

Don't leave them hanging!


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I don't know if I ever laughed so hard before or since at an animated episode of anything. It defied all my expectations and as an adult, I find that hard to come by in my grown up shows.

Run.
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Old 04-25-2019, 07:34 PM
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I clicked because it's been a while and a tiny voice who's supposed to be sleeping calls out "Are you watching Ponies?"
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Old 04-25-2019, 08:33 PM
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that and Lauren Faust (she wrote most of the original Powerpuff girls series) style of show-writing helped out tremendously


and yes the original 80s mlp and the first reboot was "come buy our toys" oversweetened glurge ....

out of the 3 or 4 reboots the hub/discovery kids mlp was the best littlest pet shop was ok ..pound puppies sucked and transformers rescue bots were aimed at kindergardeners ..
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Old 04-26-2019, 08:39 PM
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I don't know if I ever laughed so hard before or since at an animated episode of anything.
As soon as I hit submit reply I was hit with a sense of "I know that's not right and I don't know why..." Then today I remembered South Park's Good Times with Weapons. If I ever have to method act and my character has to laugh, I'd be watching the crap out of the eye scene with Butters to get in the right head space. So I amend this to "animated episode of anything aimed at kids."
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Old 04-26-2019, 08:49 PM
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Maybe amend it to "animated episode of anything aimed at kids who aren't Butters"?
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Old 04-26-2019, 10:54 PM
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Was My Little Pony FIM really that much of an instant success? I remember the buzz around it built-up slowly before it became a phenomenon. I started watching MLP (and later Steven Universe) because of the threads here.
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Old 04-26-2019, 11:18 PM
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My little sister was into it so I watched one episode a while back. Just seems like a normal kids show, for the younger demographic. Not as entertaining as earlier Spongebob Squarepants or Fairly Odd Parents, in my opinion. But I'm not a girl, and I'm not into ponies and unicorns.

Apparently some older people who happened on the show, like I did, but think it is a great show. More power to them. Some of these folks made a bunch of funny internet memes and got other people to give the show a chance. Lots of people watched an episode and found out they liked the show on the merits.

People who have a sexual fixation on the show make me sick. That's like being fixated on little girls.

But I'm confident those people going to conventions and the huge adult following is almost entirely normal people. My only qualm are those toy unicorn poop commercials - not affiliated and I'm not sure if they air on Hasbro but, I mean... what the hell?

~Max
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Old 04-27-2019, 12:27 PM
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In addition to what has been said already about quality, which I will assume is true, not having watched any, there's the fact that it is a reboot and benefited from a lot of parents, mainly women, who had grown up with the toys and old show now being of the age where they had kids of their own at the right age to watch.

Even with parents who were never fans that means there were fewer people to go "What is this weird toy commercial type show about talking horses" and more people to go "Oh, it's a My Little Pony reboot, I guess that is safe for my little darling."
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Old 05-05-2019, 06:15 PM
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My nine year old daughter discovered MLP a few months ago and went nutso for it. I actually found, to my surprise, that it was cleverer than it needed to be. It featured scarier enemies than you would expect. (Her explanation to me: "It's scary. But I'm brave.")

But just this week, she used her own saved up money to buy a month of Hulu so she could watch PowerPuff Girls. She watched the older ones first, which were kind of a trip because they had that classic, almost Hanna-Barbara style animation. And some of the story ideas were wild, off the wall. But then the 2016 one actually seems like it could almost fit on Adult Swim? It rises frequently to being legit good, but I find myself glancing nervously over and wondering if my daughter's just slightly too young for it.
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Old 05-05-2019, 06:31 PM
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It featured scarier enemies than you would expect. (Her explanation to me: "It's scary. But I'm brave.")

Yes, defeats of enemies ranges from convincing them to be friends with you to blasting them to bits to stripping all their powers and locking them in a cage in Hell. (Well, technically Tartarus, but...) And fights can be on the landscape-altering scale.
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Old 05-08-2019, 09:43 AM
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In addition to what has been said already about quality, which I will assume is true, not having watched any, there's the fact that it is a reboot and benefited from a lot of parents, mainly women, who had grown up with the toys and old show now being of the age where they had kids of their own at the right age to watch.

Even with parents who were never fans that means there were fewer people to go "What is this weird toy commercial type show about talking horses" and more people to go "Oh, it's a My Little Pony reboot, I guess that is safe for my little darling."
But there have been plenty of other reboots of old shows that have come and gone without the the success of My Little Pony. For example, Strawberry Shortcake had a reboot right around the time MLP starting getting big, and it didn't catch on or last very long, even though it aired right before MLP on Discovery Family. People who were nostalgic for My Little Pony from the original incarnation seemed to be more into the toys than the cartoon, IIRC.
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Old 05-08-2019, 10:17 AM
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But there have been plenty of other reboots of old shows that have come and gone without the the success of My Little Pony. For example, Strawberry Shortcake had a reboot right around the time MLP starting getting big, and it didn't catch on or last very long, even though it aired right before MLP on Discovery Family. People who were nostalgic for My Little Pony from the original incarnation seemed to be more into the toys than the cartoon, IIRC.
Of course being a reboot isn't a guarantee for success, but it's quite obvious that being a reboot of a popular show contributes to the speed of the success when it happens.

Out of curiosity I looked for viewing numbers to see how popular the original MLP show was, and although I didn't find that, I did find proxies that don't make the comparison Strawberry Shortcake a particularly strong argument:

Original My Little Pony:
Ran two seasons of 65 episodes in 1987 and 1988 after the release of a feature length movie in 1986.
7 VHS tapes were released with the episodes in 87, 88 and 89.

Strawberry Shortcake:
Six 23 minute annual TV specials 1980-1985.
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Old 05-08-2019, 11:22 AM
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But there have been plenty of other reboots of old shows that have come and gone without the the success of My Little Pony. For example, Strawberry Shortcake had a reboot right around the time MLP starting getting big, and it didn't catch on or last very long, even though it aired right before MLP on Discovery Family. People who were nostalgic for My Little Pony from the original incarnation seemed to be more into the toys than the cartoon, IIRC.
I have suggested in the past that part of the reason for MLP's successful reboot is actually anti-nostalgia. The original MLP was practically an icon of the crappy advertisements foisted on a generation of kids under the guise of entertainment. Just by being cleverly written, with real adventure stories and substantial characters amidst the cuteness, it's an indictment of the cartoon wasteland that birthed its original incarnation.

Maybe other reboots didn't attempt the same transformation. Maybe they didn't succeed at it because their writing wasn't up to the task. Or maybe they just weren't derided enough for an unlikely redemption to draw attention to them.
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Old 05-08-2019, 12:36 PM
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You've got me curious now about the original MLP. Is that streaming somewhere?

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Yes, defeats of enemies ranges from convincing them to be friends with you to blasting them to bits to stripping all their powers and locking them in a cage in Hell. (Well, technically Tartarus, but...) And fights can be on the landscape-altering scale.

Whoa. And that wasn't even the end of the fight! Looked clearly to be a riff on climactic superhero movie fights.

But yeah: I definitely expected it to be much more consistently in the "convince them to be friends" vein. Was that the case more in the first season or two?
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Old 05-08-2019, 03:23 PM
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You've got me curious now about the original MLP. Is that streaming somewhere?

Well, here is a clip from one of the earlier series (possibly not the first, I donno.)



Here is a compilation of opening sequences from various generations of the show. (BTW, this season is the last of the current generation of MLP, which is getting rebooted again after that.)



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But yeah: I definitely expected it to be much more consistently in the "convince them to be friends" vein. Was that the case more in the first season or two?

(spoilers ahead)



Refreshing my memory with this list, most of the conflicts were between main characters--the first few seasons featured an explicit "lesson" at the end where the main character Twilight Sparkle wrote a letter to her mentor describing what she learned about friendship in the episode (think something like the "knowing is half the battle segment from G.I. Joe, but integrated into the episode.) There were a few bad guys" that showed up in one off episodes, but they were for the most part just "chased away"--no dramatic defeat but no making friends either.There were no "big bads" in season one other than the one in the two-parter that opened the first season (the "big bad" being the sister of the aforementioned mentor) who was indeed convinced to be friends.


The second season had two "big bads", neither of which were convinced to be friends. The first one was in the two part season opener and it was John De Lancie as (pretty much) Q. The second was in the two part season finale. That two-parter is actually one I'd recommend to someone who just wants to sample the series and get an idea of it--it has most of the elements of the series--interpersonal minor conflicts (and cooperations) between the primary cast members, a "big bad" and fight scene, and several songs. It can be seen here, broke up into a playlist of 13 "chapters."



"Big bads" are actually fairly rare in the series and some of them are returning characters from earlier seasons who end up becoming friends and recurring characters. (Probably because of fan popularity, like how they could never really get rid of Spike on Buffy.)
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Old 05-08-2019, 03:39 PM
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You've got me curious now about the original MLP. Is that streaming somewhere?
I have no idea and don't care to look.

Quote:
Whoa. And that wasn't even the end of the fight! Looked clearly to be a riff on climactic superhero movie fights.

But yeah: I definitely expected it to be much more consistently in the "convince them to be friends" vein. Was that the case more in the first season or two?
It's kind of a superhero slice-of-life show in pastel pony clothing. Twilight Sparkle was already in roughly the same weight class as a Kryptonian in the first season. The other members of the Mane Six aren't that powerful, but they're not slouches, either. You could write a superhero profile for any of them.

They do tend to lean toward "make friends" and interpersonal issues, especially in the earlier seasons, but even so, there were action scenes and some outright fights. Even the "make friends" incidents tend to touch on some tropes that you see with superheroes: Defeat Means Friendship, I Know You're in There, and Heroic Spirit come to mind. Even the nonviolent confrontations sometimes qualify--Professor X doesn't beat his enemies into submission, and neither does Fluttershy, but they win just the same.
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Old 05-08-2019, 07:35 PM
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Here is a compilation of opening sequences from various generations of the show. (BTW, this season is the last of the current generation of MLP, which is getting rebooted again after that.)

Did you forget the linky?

What does a reboot mean for an animated series that hasn't been off the air for any extended length of time?
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Old 05-08-2019, 07:39 PM
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If I have to watch the old MLP (which I watched some of them new back in the day...) now, they're intolerable. Cheap 80s animation, overly sentimental. But when I was the target demo? They were the shit. My kid loved all the other generation movies and shows they show on The Hub (or whatever it's called now), but I didn't like to watch them too.

And it was the same for Strawberry Shortcake. Loved her as a kid. Can't stand the old stuff now, don't like the new ones very much. Kid loved it all, but has outgrown them.

FiM has a lot of the elements of Loony Tunes that make them eternal (ignoring the stuff that hasn't aged well, like the sexism and racism). Slapstick, bad guys who do more than just steal a pile of berries or some dumb shit. Edgy humor and stuff aimed at grown-ups.
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Old 05-08-2019, 10:18 PM
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Did you forget the linky?

What does a reboot mean for an animated series that hasn't been off the air for any extended length of time?

Not a whole lot to link, they are keeping details pretty quiet.
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Old 05-08-2019, 10:23 PM
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But yeah: I definitely expected it to be much more consistently in the "convince them to be friends" vein. Was that the case more in the first season or two?
Original show runner/series developer wanted to do more adventure stories and Hasbro wanted to focus more on the friendship stories. The basic compromise is that the seasons would (mostly) open and close with two-epsiode epic stories built around a villain who is a danger to Equestria, and the rest of the season is mostly friendship episodes, especially in the first two seasons.

Even though the first few seasons of episodes had ending with Twilight writing a letter to Princess Celestia about the friendship lesson she learned, the episodes are not really built about didactically teaching about friendship. A lot of the eps in the first two seasons are basically built around taking two of the Mane Six and bouncing their contrasting personality traits off each other.
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Old 05-08-2019, 10:28 PM
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actually strawberry shortcake has been rebooted twice in the past decade .........
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Old 05-08-2019, 10:30 PM
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It's kind of a superhero slice-of-life show in pastel pony clothing.

Of course, there is an actual superhero episode.
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Old 05-08-2019, 10:36 PM
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And the Thunderbolts are basically a superhero team, right?


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Original show runner/series developer wanted to do more adventure stories and Hasbro wanted to focus more on the friendship stories. The basic compromise is that the seasons would (mostly) open and close with two-epsiode epic stories built around a villain who is a danger to Equestria, and the rest of the season is mostly friendship episodes, especially in the first two seasons.

Even though the first few seasons of episodes had ending with Twilight writing a letter to Princess Celestia about the friendship lesson she learned, the episodes are not really built about didactically teaching about friendship. A lot of the eps in the first two seasons are basically built around taking two of the Mane Six and bouncing their contrasting personality traits off each other.

Interesting!


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Not a whole lot to link, they are keeping details pretty quiet.

I meant when you wrote "Here is a compilation of opening sequences..." but unlike the previous "Here", this one was not hypertext.
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Old 05-08-2019, 11:18 PM
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And the Thunderbolts are basically a superhero team, right?
Wonderbolts. No, they are stunt flyers like the Blue Angels except, you know, they are their own planes.

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Originally Posted by SlackerInc View Post
I meant when you wrote "Here is a compilation of opening sequences..." but unlike the previous "Here", this one was not hypertext.

Supposed to be this.

Last edited by Darren Garrison; 05-08-2019 at 11:20 PM.
  #33  
Old 05-09-2019, 12:01 AM
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So, you mean that "My little pony" isn't only porn?
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Old 05-09-2019, 10:46 PM
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Thanks, Darren. I will show this to my daughter--it will probably blow her mind.
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