• Editorial: The Blended Disunion

    Again the show's writers have written a marvelous piece on family. Common Ground was both heartwarming and funny. But it was also one of the most impactful episodes to air.

    I think it’s easy for us to forget that MLP is a show targeted at younger viewers. The stories, characters interactions, dialogue, settings, everything is geared to be interesting and understandable to that target audience.

    That said, Common Ground certainly tackled a relationship dynamic not easily performed for this target age group and I’d like to argue this is one of the most significant and tricky episodes of the series.

    Blended families and parent dating are difficult conversations to have no matter what the medium. Kids everywhere struggle with figuring out how to relate to their families’ new dynamics when they are in the kind of situation Wind Sprint is in.

    Common Ground is a phenomenal, standout episode in the entire series.

    That look; Quibble loves them deeply.
    I think it’s safe to say Quibble wants to become a permanent member of the family. This is the first we’ve heard of a potential step-dad in the series I believe. (You adamant comic book and book series readers correct me if I’ve missed one there.)

    It might also be the first indication of pony society having divorce; the keyword being might.
    Rainbow Dash listens to Wind Sprint talk about her dad just to turn around and talk up Quibble . . .  there are a lot of layers to this episode!
    While the show never states it directly, viewers might assume Wind Sprint’s parents are divorced which is important to the kids who relate to that situation. Grammatically the characters use language that implies the father is actually dead. They say he was an athlete instead of saying he is an athlete. Though I suppose it’s possible he’s just stopped playing sports since the divorce.

    For kids with a death in the family, they too can relate to what’s playing out on screen. What also comes through is how difficult it can be for outsiders to understand how a kid feels in either of these situations.
    "Why do you like him?"
    Wind is resistant to Quibble and even slightly confused by her own mother's response to him. The pain of reconfiguring a family is still very hard even in Equestria. Not even the Elements of Harmony have a magical fix for these kinds of problems.

    Wind Sprint, like some children watching the show, is being forced to accept her mother’s new relationship with a pony that to Wind is a stranger. While Clear Sky got to know Quibble as an equal and friend, Wind Sprint is seeing him as a potential authority; a new father figure to compete with the old one.

    Wind Sprint feels like Quibble is trying to take the place of her father.
    There’s a lot of hurts a child can experience when their parents either break up or die. Many kids secretly hope that one day their parents will get back together or that maybe death isn’t really a permanent thing.

    Children can feel guilty for liking a new parental figure as it feels like they are betraying their biological parent. This is in no way an easy topic for the show’s staff to approach.

    Prior to this, most family-focused episodes tend to be dominated by ponies who already had an established relationship between the members of the conflict.

    Wind’s story was crafted for the sole purpose of creating her scenario. The feelings and confusing of the situation aren’t easily conquered by appealing to a former friendship because there wasn’t one there to begin with.
    Wind Sprint: Imagine how much happier I would be if Quibble would have stood in this line instead.
    Wind Sprint clearly wants to stay connected to her bio dad based on her love of sports. Just taking a few moments throughout the episode to show this demonstrates her love for her bio dad.

    It displays the uphill battle Quibble has in trying to bond with her in an area he knows nothing about. But honestly, even if Quibble had been a terrific athlete, I doubt it would have won Wind Sprint over. And this is where I think the episode really shows off its unique take on blended families: this ep focused on the adult in this relationship.

    Many children's television shows that talk about divorce/blended families do so from the child’s point of view, which makes sense. Children need examples of characters struggling with the same emotions that they have.

    When a family breaks up, even under the best of circumstances, it creates a lot of instabilities for the children. Kids can become absorbed with their own issues that they miss that the adults in their life are also struggling.

    It can be hard to get children to sympathize with a character that represents the same adult they can’t stand in real life. Children’s entertainment has the opportunity to begin a conversation for kids and the important adults in their lives.

    Because children already know who Quibble Pants and he is a friend of Rainbow Dash (a character the love and respect already) they are more willing to see things from his point of view. They may even root for him and hope he learns to be good at sports.

    Quibble: I'm going to lose them and it's killing me.
    RD: ANy true fan of me would also feel bad that my friend is unhappy. Let's make this a teachable moment.
    Quibble’s story gives kids a chance to see that the new partners or step-parents have their own thoughts and feelings entering the family too.

    Quibble never meant to replace Wind’s bio father, but he wanted to be liked by her and find ways to connect to her without making her uncomfortable. Audience members watching the show could safely examine the potential struggles their step-parent or parent’s new partner are facing.
    Quibble: I know I've made some mistakes, but I'll do worse when I start spitting dad jokes at your future special somepony.
    Perhaps you’ve heard stories about how child psychologist use the movie Inside Out to talk with kids about their emotions? I think this episode provides a similar platform for children and their families to discuss some of the hard feelings of being in a blended household.

    The family dynamic is as complex and varied as any relationship can be.

    For any child watching this episode having this kind of representation is crucial in their healing process. Children need a safe place to question their feelings and consider different angles, especially when trying to understand the emotions of the adults around them.

    So whether or not this episode was enjoyable for you, it’s worth noting that Common Ground is a vital part of what makes this show so amazing and why so many of us enjoy it. So many episodes mean so much to different viewers and I’m happy to add this one to the list even if it didn’t personally affect me as much as say, The Perfect Pear.

    Kudos to everyone involved in the making of this episode!