• Seasons, Nostalgia, and The Fandom Part 2: Derpygate, The First Hiatus, and Princess Product Placement

    It's time for part two of "that thing I started yesterday that I didn't realize was going to turn into a multi-part thing". Turns out pony had a boatload of stuff going on these last few years that you don't really remember until you sit down and think about it.

    Yesterday we covered the world of season one, complete with all of its oddities that had the majority of the internet saying "WTH?" as their favorite websites suddenly ended up covered in ponies. Little did they know what madness was about to be unleashed. This newfound subculture and its "Bronies" had a long wait ahead of them until new episodes arrived, and they weren't at all interested in seeing their favorite new hobby bite the dust.

    And with that, let us journey into the post-season one hiatus, and delve into the madness that was season two of the most surprising new trend the internet has seen in years. 

    How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Ponies

    With Winter Wrap Up and At The Gala blasting away on all of our MP3 players and playlists, It was time for our first great hiatus! The fan content was already something keeping us thriving between episodes, and with people like Eurobeat Brony, Pinkie Pie Swear, and Makkon stepping in, we even had a growing scene of  music makers to take the songs mentioned above and remix them into all sorts of interesting genres. Not to mention all of their original work. For the New Lunar Republic is still one of the most memorable instrumentals in the fandom. 

    Something massive was about to happen though that would shake our developing fandom to its very core. Horrible stuff just didn't happen in ponyland! We were not prepared!

    Just two days after the big season one finale, the brain behind this amazing world announced that she would be stepping down from her role as executive producer. Lauren Faust was somewhat of a hero for all of us in the early days (and even now a few years later!).  While Hasbro was pumping out pink trucks and Nightmare Fuel Pinkie Pie dolls,  Lauren was our guiding light, promising us a future that would keep our beloved ponies intact and free of rampant product placement.  Her great departure has always been shrouded in mystery and rumor, and while she has returned for conventions as a guest of honor, the actual story on why she left is still not set in stone. Was it the pink alicorn princess mentioned later in this post? Or something we wouldn't see for years in the future? The world may never know for sure... 

    Luckily, we still had one more season of near-completed episodes that were originally guided by her careful hand, and the guys at DHX and Topdraw were prepared and coached to take her place.  It wasn't the end of the world, in fact, we were just getting started!

    Many expected a decline during the first great hiatus of 2011. Here at EQD, we were all prepped and ready to bust into full on onion news for the summer. Something weird was happening though.  The submit box was not slowing down, in fact, every single day it would be larger and larger.  A huge push began from the fanfiction community especially.  While the episodes were no longer airing, we still had a form of "episodic" content via epic length fan-built stories.  Fallout Equestria arrived on the scene in April, and people flocked to it like a swarm of starving animals desperately seeking a grimdark pony world. Every single week was a major event, with chapter updates releasing periodically along with their massive word counts.  It lasted all the way until the end of the year, and spawned an entire sub-fandom of its own that still lives on to this day.

    Grimdark pony wasn't the only fanfiction doing incredibly well though. 

    Many more fics were also quite popular during this age, covering Comedy, Romance, and just about anything else you could think of. Stories like Progress hoped to give a fanon interpretation on a character many of us were pining for throughout the last 26 episodes. Yes dear EQD readers, Luna was already wildly popular even with less than 30 seconds of air time.  The pony was a completely blank slate, with some seeing her as sad and lonely after 1000 years locked away on the moon, and others more comedic via stories about her struggles to fit in with modern technology and societal norms. If you have read the Luna micro, that was the basic jist of it, with an abacus and microwaves thrown in. We kept ourselves entertained in some very creative ways.  

    Enough about fanfiction though! We had another major event happen, this time in a much more positive light than that scary one way up above.

    The Hub released a promo called "Equestria Girls" (up above), a Katy Perry parody that clocked in at around thirty seconds as a TV spot on their channel.  What we didn't realize, was that this was actually just a clip of the full version. On May 27th, The Hub fired off an email to us here at Equestria Daily with the MP4 file above. It was the full 90 second song, complete with our very first major acknowledgement from the people we were hoping would notice us from the start.  Not only are "Bronies" straight up mentioned, but Vinyl Scratch makes an appearance to finish it off.  This was huge, and it wasn't over yet.  While waiting for season two, the fandom absolutely exploded

    Meetup groups started popping up in just about every major city.  It seems the show's primary moral of Friendship was something your average fan was more than happy to embrace. Pony was the perfect ice breaker, and something that worked much better with a group of like-minded individuals.  There was still a big societal stigma, and being able to see that the people you have talked to for months exist outside of the interwebz helped a lot of people get over the fact that the target demo for FiM was still little girls. 

    We didn't stop there though.  The New York brony group took it one step further, renting out a space for the very first BronyCon in June. While it was a shadow of its current self at 100 attendees, it was still the beginning of a concept that would once again spread across not only the USA, but the rest of the world.  100% pony focused conventions were now a thing!

    During the second BronyCon just a few months later in September, The Hub once again threw us a bone via a live-showing of the 2nd season two episode in front of the now 300 strong group.  This also marked the beginning of show guests appearing at our community events, with the director Jayson Thiessen in attendance.

    Meanwhile, back in the electronic space, a new army of artists was grinding it out for a month learning how to draw here on EQD under the guidance of Phoe. Quite a few of them grew up to be some of the most famous artists in the fandom today.  Who would have thought the pony form would be so much fun to study?

    Lets get to the next major topic though.  I think you have all realized by now that this fandom was more than ready to keep itself occupied.  It was EPISODE TIME.   

    Season Two - The Chaos Has Just Begun!

    Something that really helped keep the ball rolling was the staggered release of the first two episodes of the season. For whatever reason, they decided to drop the two-part Discord opening a month early.  If any of you at Hasbro Land are listening, this was an awesome idea. Instead of waiting long into November like the current show cycle, we had a massive bit of content and two of the best episodes of the season right when things were starting to get a little stale. 

    John De Lancie's role as the Q'esque Discord was a MASSIVE hit, and expectations for season two skyrocketed.  Any worry that it wouldn't live up to its predecessor were instantly dashed. 

    It didn't end there though.  This wasn't your little sister's show for little girls.

    Lesson Zero aired a month later, and Hol-E-Celestia was it not at all what we expected from the synopsis leaked a few weeks earlier.  Meghan McCarthy already showed us in the previous season that she could bend the rules on what they could get away with in Party of One, and this episode right here took it above and beyond. 

    Lines like "DID THEY JUST DROP A RAINBOW NUKE" and "OMG FLUTTERSHY IS A BADASS" were two of many "OMG" instances that were born out of it.  Twilight Sparkle went absolutely insane.  If there was an episode to turn your "too cool for ponies" friends on to the series and prove to them that this wasn't the show from the 80's they probably thought you were watching, this was generally it. 

    And what was this? Do my eyes deceive me? Is that a Halloween episode on the horizon, and is that a LUNA in the title?

    Someone got an UPGRADE. Half a year of fanon was about to be reformatted and canonized.. We finally had our Luna episode, and boy did she deliver. CANTERLOCK was suddenly a thing, and this regal badass of a pony stormed on stage surprising everyone with her old-English speaking style and completely outdated ideas on how society runs.  One would think her sister would give her a bit of a warning before hand!  It didn't help the growing "Celestia is a troll" thing that spawned during the wait.  And if that wasn't enough, we even got an entire Derpy scene.  More on her in a bit!

    After these first four episodes completely blew us away, the show returned to its season one style roots with some much more down to earth slice-of-lifey episodes, and a boatload of new songs to remix in the massive music community that grew during the wait.  We already came to love Daniel Ingram and William Anderson, and Steffan Andrews after the first season, and they didn't disappoint at all in this one.

    Things were about to take a turn for OMGAWESOME once again though, as a fan favorite background pony was about to get an entire vocalized intro dedicated to her.

    The Great Derpygate Storm of 2012

    Ever since someone noticed a wall-eyed gray pegasus pony in very first episode of season one, she pretty much became the mascot of fan creation.  Literally born out of a bored animator flipping a random ponies eyes, she had entire stories built around her, from rooming with Carrot Top (and the subsequent emptying of many a fridge), to one of the saddest fanfics out there, Derpy was right up there with Luna in popularity.

    In the storm of love for her, DHX took notice on a massive scale.

    Not only did they actually use our name for her, they went all out with a fully voiced sequence that started off the entire episode, now dubbed "The Last Rounderp". People were ecstatic. If the Equestria Girls song earlier in the year wasn't a big enough tip off that the higher ups over at Hasbro/Dhx/The Hub were very much aware of us, this was the nail in the coffin for those doubting our impact on the show.

    The celebration was short lived though. Out of nowhere, the iTunes version of the episode mysteriously disappeared a few days after it went up.  While we sat back waiting for it to return thinking it was a simple "derp" in the system, some were nervous about what exactly had happened to cause it to drop.

    A few weeks later, The Last Roundup returned, and our beloved pony was completely changed.  Gone was her name drop from Rainbow Dash, and her glorious wall eyes were straightened out and normalized.  The fandom outcry made the drama from Twilight's alicornification look like no big deal at all.

    An entire campaign known as "Derpygate" was quickly spawned, absolutely bombarding Hasbro with letters demanding her return to the way she was before. For months we were met with silence. The writer behind the episode, Amy Keating Rogers popped on and explained the situation in full.  While Hasbro appeared to change their decision on the issue some time around the middle of the year via a Derpy toy at Comic Con 2012, the damage had already been done for most of the future 3rd season.  The pony that was once our little Easter egg in the background was absent for a good amount of it. 

    The drama eventually died down as it usually does, and we continued on to the rest of the season... only to barrel right into another one. 

    Pink Alicorn Product Placement and Bug Fixes

    As the season ramped up for its big finish, we were bombarded with all sorts of hype by the growing Twitter community of show-staff and Hasbro teasers.  The Royal Wedding was their biggest marketing push yet.

    Once again though, we got hit by yet another major change that a large amount of the brony fandom wasn't too fond of.  Luna and Celestia were about to be joined by a pony that literally embodied everything we had dreaded seeing when Lauren Faust left.  Princess Cadance was now a thing. 

    The initial reaction to that pony up there was anything but positive.  Cadance was revealed, and the loose dynamite leftover from Derpygate exploded anew. Luna and Celestia were our OG princess badasses, not this pink monstrosity!  "It's an affront to everything Lauren stood for!"  the fandom cried.  People were genuinely scared that the best season so far was going to end on a horrible slump.

    Good thing we were wrong.  

    Yes, we did now have a 3rd princess, and yes, she's the most obvious toy seller in the history of little girl's cartoons, but the guys at DHX somehow made it work.  We went into the finale expecting Rainbow Dash always dressing in style and Cadance showing everyone her tiara, but instead got a Disney level epic villain song from product placement horse, and this new character right here:

    If we thought Discord was going to be the pinnacle of villainy this season, we were wrong, or at least he had a pretty big match for the title. Chrysalis was a gooey, chittering ball of awesome.  While her actual airtime in bug-form was relatively short, the fandom instantly fell in love with her design and overall evilness.  No one saw this thing coming. Hell, we didn't even get her name in the end. It took an animator to tell us what to call her.

    Literally the day after she appeared, we had an entire art post filled with 60 Cheeseleg worshiping images. Yes, that is completely insane.  No, we probably won't ever see that again.  How anything could spawn 60 pieces of fan art in a day is still mind boggling.

    In the end, Princess Cadance ended up actually being pretty cool, and for those that still disliked the idea of her, they were quickly distracted by the bug queen.  Season two had finally come to an end, and pony was stronger than ever.  Many considered these 26 episodes to be the pinnacle of the fandom, and based on activity and popularity throughout the geek world at the time, and how hyped everyone was about it, It's hard for me to disagree with them.

    We had yet another hiatus though, and the prospect of only thirteen episodes in the next season looming ahead of us.  After being spoiled with an early start, I don't think anyone was prepared to wait all the way until November.  But wait we did, and that is covered in the 3rd installment of this series.  Expect that either tomorrow or the day after!

    (Trixie is best pony.  Sethisto OUT!)