My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic – Interview with head writer Meghan McCarthy
What is My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic? It’s a cartoon show about cute ponies. To clarify, it’s a show with in-depth characters and pony adventures. It’s enjoyed by young female audience members, and also by the teenage and adult male audience (bronies). I want to reach out to the closet bronies out there, give them a hug, and say that it’s okay. Embrace your love for ponies and the color pink.
We recently had a chance to interview Meghan McCarthy, who is the head writer for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. We discuss the brony fandom and the writing process for the show.
John Nguyen: I must admit, I haven’t seen an episode of MLP: FIM.
Meghan McCarthy: [Laughs] It’s okay.
I know that there are male fans out there, and it’s gotten so big to the point that they have a convention dedicated to MLP. What is your take on the brony phenomenon?
I love it. I think it’s great. Any time a show can appeal to a diverse audience, you know that you are doing something right. So I’m thrilled at the response and all the art and music that they are contributing to the show.
This past year, I went to AM2 at the Anaheim Convention Center. They had this section dedicated to MLP fans.
I believe it.
I can tell you haven’t watched any episodes yet, because if you had, you’d already be a brony.
I guess that can be true. I did enjoy shows like The Powerpuff Girls. So if I did watch this show, I think I’d enjoy it.
Yes, I think you would.
Wow, so My Little Pony is already on its third season. What are some new things compared to the previous two seasons?
The expanding of Equestria where the show takes place. Twilight Sparkle has been in Ponyville for a while, so we’re going to see her journey get further and deeper.
What would be your selling point for non-fans of the show?
I think in general if you’re a big animation fan, the show is great looking. I think with each season, it takes animation to a new level that you don’t see on TV very often. It’s just really solid storytelling, and that’s what we’re aiming for. You just feel good when you watch it. It’s not cynical and it doesn’t have a bunch of characters yelling at each other. It’s characters that you get invested in really quickly, seeing them overcome their flaws to reach their goals. And it’s got the catchy music that’s fun to listen to on the show, and it’s fun to hear what the bronies do with it afterwards.
Do you have any tips for bronies on how they can prevent bullying?
We have an episode that actually deals with the topic of bullying and how to deal and not deal with it. I would say express who you are. The great thing about the brony community is that it’s not small. You’re not alone in an enjoyment of the show and you should never feel that way. Like what you like; don’t let other people dictate who you’re suppose to be.
What’s the writing process like for the show?
At the beginning of the season, we’ll have a writers summit where we’ll bring in the people who will be writing the episodes, and everybody has to come in and kind of pitch. It can be just a sentence and doesn’t have to be fully figured out. We, as a group, pair down which one we really responded to, and then we try to expand those into a premise with a beginning, middle, and end. We’ll submit those and get feedback. Then I’ll meet with a writer or two to break down the stories at a time, and we’ll just figure out the different acts and beats to the story. The writers will then create an outline, and I’ll make notes and revisions. That goes to the network and studios. Once we have a script down, we then send it to the executives. It’s on an episode by episode basis.
Where do you and the writers get your ideas for each episode?
It can come from anywhere. It can be in their [writers] house or with their sister/brother, and that will inspire them to come up with a story idea. But we’re very lucky on the show to have a lot of great characters to work with and lots of different ways to have them paired up, or face character flaws.
What are your tips on getting past writer’s block?
One is to take a walk because I usually find that if you’re sitting somewhere trying to make yourself think of something, it’s not going to happen for you. Sometimes it will, but it’s usually when you’re not thinking about it, it’s all of a sudden, “Oh, that’s it! I got it!” The other thing is you have to make yourself write. It’s not the easiest thing in the world, but you do have to have some discipline to try to sit there and work on it everyday. That’s what I try to do anyway.
Thanks Meghan for doing this interview.
No problem, my pleasure.
We also have an exclusive image (top picture) from this Saturday’s episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. It’s a visual reference to Top Gun.
“Wonderbolt Academy” Logline: Rainbow Dash is thrilled to receive an exclusive invitation to attend the Wonderbolt Academy, but her experience leads her to question whether she’s really Wonderbolt material.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is currently airing new episodes Saturdays at 10:30am ET/7:30am PT on the Hub network.