• Published 25th Dec 2016
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Behind the Laughter: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - Smashology



This is the story they never wanted to tell you. This is the story about your favorite characters that has been kept secret. This is the story... behind the laughter.

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We Need to Talk (Season 5)

Replacements. Controversy. Sex. Quit.

Behind the Laughter

By the end of their fourth season, “My Little Pony” was burning up Nielsen boxes in Equestria and creating a sensation overseas. Bathtubs of money, wheelbarrows of awards, fire hoses of respect. The Mane 6 had it all. But behind the streamers and confetti, storm clouds were gathering.

Figurative storm clouds. The period between seasons four and five was larger than any previous or future hiatus. This was due to the controversy surrounding Prism Wing’s withdrawal and changes occurred inside the offices of Hasbro and DHX. An executive under the name of Evening Shine, had the pleasure to contact us and talk about what happened.

Here we have two assistants who claim to be Evening Shine, but that would be nearly impossible.

Why do you think so?

Well... she’s one individual and... you’re two.

However, nobody said we could be the same pony. I’m Nightfall Shine and this is my sister, Evening Blaze.

We were Evening Shine.

How’s that possible?

We took turns, and nobody suspected.

But... that’s too simple, too easy to be believable!

No. Simple maybe, but not easy. It’s nothing easy that two ponies share one life.

Half of a life, because we didn’t have much as individuals, nor as sisters. And for a time, it was enough from us.

How do you two came up with this idea?

You don’t want to know... you really don’t want to know.

One goes through difficult times occasionally, but every so often also gets in on the action.

Right, so could you tell me more about Evening Shine?

Evening Shine was... among a selected group of ponies chosen by the executives and producers to be in the show. But not as ‘one more member’ as the rest could guess. It was more like a blend between a new group of writers and an ambassador. We checked the process of making the show; the difficulties they had and then we delivered our reports to the executives. And we took turns, like we said before.

We participated in the “Equestria Girls” movies, so we were familiar with the source material, just not as much as it concerned. Really, we were there, checking the rest and occasionally providing our services to the team.

We decided to write an episode for the show, which justified our presence. It was titled “The Cutie Map.” It became a great opener for the current season, probably the best of them all.

The sisters revealed information declared as, ‘classified’ during this period. The most important snippets were a leadership change and the background cast taking control of the network. Both affected the main crew permanently. In 2015, Fancy Pants left the job as executive producer and director due to an illness unknown at the time. Another pony replaced him almost immediately thus, as a result of the restructuring, production was hurried up to finish the following season as fast as possible. This posed a problem to the cast, so to show their disdain; they complained.

We didn’t know where Prism Wing was. She WAS the one who had things under control and, along with us, WAS the one who approved or disapproved which stories were worth it.

Stardust Nova took her place, but was notorious for being unprepared for the job and consequently, we had to shorten her character’s appearance in the show.

It was a good relief for us, finally... We had our own screen time and our characters started to have some good development.

During the production, the team noticed something in the schedule of the program.

Our hundredth episode! It was a reason to celebrate, and for that, we needed to create a special plot, one that commemorated all the things that made “My Little Pony” special.

It was supposed to be one of those specials where the characters discussed had some trouble, talked about their experiences, and then the cameras cut to past episodes in a flashback format. Everyone was excited, including us.

But we had a drawback in everythin’ comin’ from the executives who, once again, interfered with our plans and changed things around.

This time, the executives were innocent however. The real culprits were the background ponies. Those who only the fans claimed their names, those who the staff tended to ignore until they needed them for something, those who began to control the company from the inside out.

I can recall the leader coming to the main office and threatening the new director for signing a contract about having total creative control of the episodes and even renaming the network. With gun to the head included.

The Hub Network was renamed as Discovery Family, becoming more kid-friendly and as a result, most of the employees were fired and new blood was injected to the company.

The situation was out of control. Suddenly we were having ponies and other creatures we didn’t know about walking around the studios! Everywhere, posters of their leader, even their own national anthem were hailed to glory!

Our real savior is the almighty Lady Derpy. She was there when we needed her the most, she was the light who guide us in the darkness.

And she was there when we were crowned victorious. Lady Derpy is our one true Savior. That wannabe known as Princess Twilight is nothing more than a fraud and should be despised by all of us for her lies and deception.

Do not fall for hurdles, ponies. Remember, real leaders look like this, not this.

Good ponies, remember who your leader is. Twilight Sparkle will regret the day she vanished me from the show.

I never did that! I was not involved in any of that, so please stop staring at me with those cute wall-eyes you have!

The background cast began to speak and their demands were listened.

Low salary, few job offers in other places...

Being recognized only for a children show, limiting your potential...

Practical jokes from the rest of the members, including guest stars in some cases...

And the most important: being discriminated by the rest of the staff just because your role is ‘tree number five’.

And don’t get us wrong, we continue to work with both Hasbro and DHX and we LOVE the show as much as the rest, but…

Spill the beans, please.

Is it difficult to ask for respect just once?

This, as a result, ended up in the episode known as “Slice of Life”, where the background ponies were the stars of the show. However, and unexpectedly, not every fan was pleased with it. Some said it, “...would have actually nicely served as a fine final episode to the series”, while others declared it was, “a falsely advertised ratings trap without any originality.”

Once again, the controversy was around us. And again, the audience was not completely satisfied with the finish product. Sadly, there’s no way to make everyone happy. It’s like no matter what you do for them, they find fault.

Some of the invited guests took notes of the situation and tried their best to analyze both sides.

The episode where I debuted was released only a few weeks before “Slice of Life” was premiered. I can say the internal conflicts were constant, to the point of having more and more authoritarianism as the season progressed.

How could you describe these internal problems?

As a class struggle. You see, the commoners want to be at the same level as the royalty. That means more equality for all ponies around, and less right for the superior ranks.

You know? It’s funny and scary how fantasy mixes with reality over time.

Like all groups, not everyone was pleased with the method of extortion the background cast was using. Rebels from the inside were starting to emerge, with Minuette as the most notorious.

Like the main cast, most of us were chosen from the streets, with the difference that we didn’t have to do casting. We were normal ponies before the show was conceived. In my case, I was a dentist.

But things are different. All of you are all stars! You’re famous everywhere, people and ponies recognize your faces, you’re a doll for God’s sake!

But I don’t want to be famous like this! Sometimes you need to admit the truth… that you’re a background character in a kids show and yes, you can propose some ideas for the rest so your characters can be used in a more dynamic way. But we were only changing roles for our own like in this case. It was like creating a tournament where the children of the Capitol are murdered by other children of the Capitol for avenging the children of the rest of the population murdered in past tournaments.

Hey, calm down. There’s no need to do a tongue twister. So, what do you propose to do?

First, do your best in your current position, and then look for alternatives that can benefit you. Choose the best ones and sooner or later, you’ll have a starring role. Maybe you won’t like your first choices, but persevere and you can do whatever you want. I don’t support the rebels and I’m not in the show anymore. I’m pursuing my own dreams.

These preferences towards the support and background cast were astonishing for the company, which had more downgrades with the main roles.

Recreation

A wedding at the beach shore, guests sat in lines, both Ivory and Sparkling Cider at the altar with the priest at the front. They are about to exchange votes and trade glances.

By the power that God has granted me, I now pronounce you wife and... wife. You can kiss the bride.

Ivory and Sparkling Cider kiss. The crowd breaks out into cheers and sighs of relief as they run victoriously down the carpet.


That was a huge call of attention for us. I mean, just think about how bad the company’s reputation was going to be if parents knew that an ‘odd’ couple were starring in one of our shows. We did everything we could to cover them up in the past, but this was going too far.

They tried to sabotage us and sold many of our private secrets to the public. Ah felt ashamed and betrayed, darlin’.

And what was so strange about it was that the green unicorn and the two-color mane pony got married just a couple of months after our wedding, and NOBODY complained about it. It didn’t even appear on the news for Christ’s sake!

Everyone heard, about all the problems they were getting into… to the point that the executives began to offer the main roles to other ponies.

All while we were directing one of the most special episodes in the entire show.

Both Diamond Dazzle and Tin Shot got their cutie mark around the summer of that year, giving us the next step to do with the Cutie Mark Crusaders.

“Crusaders of the Lost Mark” featured one of the biggest achievements for the three little fillies, the episode concluded a part of their life and opened new possibilities for them. It also premiered on the fifth anniversary of the series, giving it a more ‘special’ feeling. What the fans didn’t know was that this episode was the last time they were going to see them, literally and figuratively.

Apple Spritz’s brashness and how she treated the rest of ponies in general started to be notorious among the Internet and community. The executives involved into the problems and put restrictions to the fillies that they couldn’t handle. In the end, both Diamond Dazzle and Tin Shot took their places.

We felt guilty for them. After all, it wasn’t our fault and we were compliant with our current position.

Apple Spritz grew a grudge among us, although we were still able to talk with both Marble and Plum.

Since the controversy surrounding our big sisters affected us directly, they decided to quit. And that would’ve been fine if they didn’t take us with them!

Only Plum was allowed to stay for an unknown reason, while both of us were forced to say goodbye to the staff.

Every family member left with Sparkling Cider and Ivory. Some of us didn’t agree, like my little sister, but the media was putting their attention in our lives, and the last thing someone wants is their privacy becoming public.

All deposits were retired from all bank branches and invested somewhere else. Contracts were cancelled or burned and we left the country.

We wanted a life where we could do whatever we want wherever we want, where restriction weren’t a problem and freedom was supreme.

Ya can argue or disagree with our decision of leavin’, but ya have to understand us. We’re not allowed to tell ya where we are or what we are doin’ right now, but Ah can assure ya... we’re happier than ever.

And I’m sure you are, we just need to get used to it and accept the facts. Thanks for your contribution.

No problem.

It’s good to be helpin’.

All these facts had, as a result, created the first hiatus in between the season. There were others before, but not in the middle of an airing season, not lasting that long and not being too continuous. All these conflicts forced the executives to amend things between the background staff and to hire new members for replacing the absent Mane 6. Some of the invited guests like the student Majesty and the singer Halle Nal were involved in all these uncomfortable situations whether they liked them or not.

Schizophrenia, avoidant personality disorder, dementia, dissociative identity disorder, histrionic personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder. All of them were a nuthouse, I can’t remember a single sane pony there.

Constant arguments and lawsuits are not the best way to control a group. In the case of this show, they tried to implement some ideas that weren’t worthy.

The idea of the Cutie Map was great and a good way to explore the rest of Equestria. It helped to expand the idea of dividing the main cast in pairs, but the writers didn’t take advantage of the possibilities.

Once you admit to the whole world you’re a member of our glorious community, things can get strange. You get a lot of help when you’re in an emergency, from moral support to profit for a surgery, but they also want that tissue you used to clean your nose and sell it on EBay. Disgusting.

We had interviews during that hiatus about what was happening behind the scenes. Very few of us had the courage to talk about this encroachment. Those who did, paid the consequences.

How exactly? Got Fired?

Not necessarily. Payment reduction was more common since the company hadn’t the balls to see each of their employees leave one by one. I was one of those employees and only because I wanted more participation and respect, both in and out of the show. Although there was something more I wanted that I didn’t realize back then.

But there were bigger problems off-screen. During a trip back to their home in Vanhoover, Q created a ruckus on a public avenue, attacking several citizens.

Taking pictures of our little girl was the last straw when it comes to privacy.

I’ve heard commentaries about us taking her to school. They judged us and said things like, ‘They can live life like the rest of us?’

Cottontail outraged her inner fury on one of the citizens, it was a misunderstanding because she thought I was going to go to jail.

I want to set the record straight, I thought the prostitute was a cop.

The scandals raised like foam in a jar of cider. Suddenly, rumors began to spread everywhere.

We felt trapped in there. On the spur of the moment, there was no member in the entire cast who respected or cared for each other. I went to a trial after my incident and nobody stuck up for me!

Unlike the piñata accident, the company didn’t pay anything to take her out of prison. I spent the last bit and cent of our fortune to set her free. And to preserve our remaining fortune, I had no choice but to sell our house.

Not to mention, this incident affected our part in the show, since we only got a couple of starring roles and episodes with a serious lack of logic. Afraid of candy? Are you kidding me?!

With the team in disarray, episodes increasingly resorted to gimmicky premises and nonsensical plots.

I expect God to kill the idiot who came up with this shit.

Not everything was harsh though. Many episodes still hold true to this day and ideas were well executed, like old friends from the Mane 6 appearing during the season and finishing journeys for the main characters. Letters were sent to Hasbro and DHX, as a form of demand from the fans to appear in the show.

After my appearance, as well as the others, many began to adore us. We became ponies with a cult following. So much that I was waiting a response from the sisters to come back in another episode.

We had so much fun in the program. Crazy amounts of people wanted us to come back. However, that’s not our decision. As much as we love the show and the staff, it’s the choices of the sisters and executives. For now, I’m busy with another album recording.

One begins to wonder when things started to go wrong. Not satisfied with drugging me every day, my sisters overprotected me during production. They even got their own episode ‘just for me to be safe.’ Although I appreciate that UHF was alongside me all the time.

The season finale was built up with expectations and, although it had many new idea plus new possibilities, with a concept not explored in the show and a new character introduced.... it couldn’t show it’s true colors.

What better way to enjoy the finale than time travel? It’s always good to see a ‘What if?’ scenario.

Like what?

What if the Mane 6 never met? What if Nightmare Moon actually won? Watching ponies in a war against King Sombra with mechanical prosthesis is something you normally don’t expect from a series with colorful horses as the main characters. Not to mention the difficulties of shooting some scenes like this one.

We shoot this scene at three in the morning on location at a quarry and we had to shoot it about fifteen takes since Spyke kept flubbing his lines when he got dust in his mouth.

Unfortunately, the company had other plans, among which are not only the cuts and the restrictions. It was so the final version of the episode was understandable and acceptable enough to those who don’t go deep into details. Like how time travel works. Seriously, there’s so many plot holes in every timeline. And the inclusion of Starlight Glimmer in the final cut was the nail in the coffin since her reformation was so poorly developed; that she practically went from being the best villain in the series to the most controversial character.

The saddest part about Starlight is that she could’ve actually worked as a character. She was portrayed in a nice way in “The Cutie Map” and we looked forward to how she would’ve been utilized in the finale. Just watching this ultimate big villain becoming a childish brat upsets me in so many ways. It was handled so poorly that it ended up taking us two whole seasons to fix her character.

As you can tell, I’m angry with how this episode has had a hugely negative effect on the show. It made me realize that the project we were working on for five years was anything but infallible. And it wasn’t immune to seasonal rot after all. The worst of all? It proved, that submitting to the company’s intentions is wrong, but so is submitting to the fans because they want to change your vision too. Suddenly, the ponies and people who admired our job were also a danger.

We realized that everything has its limits, so Cottontail chose withdrawal and to not perform again on TV. I wanted to leave as well, but I needed money to support my family and despite having some appearances outside of the show, the truth was that nobody wanted me. So I had to stay against my will.

I can’t imagine how that feels. Since then, I did everything I could to get him out of there. That's no problem for me, it’s good to be helping.

After a trial and a long process of reconciliation, Cottontail became the fourth member of the Mane 6 who left the show. The sisters had no choice but to recast these characters so that nobody noticed the difference. The replacements were an earth pony called Sour Sweet, a pegasus named Sugarcoat and a unicorn called Lemon Zest. As for the finale... it had good reception when it first came out, later years demonstrated that the changes had demerited the final product overall.

True, “The Cutie Re-Mark” became the first finale where not everyone was completely satisfied, but on the other hand, the previous entry was so good that it was almost impossible to surpass it.

Most of us had new ideas waiting to be used in future installments. All of us were excited on how we could get better this franchise.

Although I didn’t appear as often as previous seasons, I didn’t care that much because my life was just getting better and better. Me and Flash were starting to date and I gained enough cash to buy a glamorous mansion in one of the most exclusive areas in the world. I was the most loved pony in Equestria and beyond.

With mixed results, more positives overall, season five was perceived as the point where new staff was ready to bring new life into the show. Despite a few misses and withdrawals, the show gained new material to work with. Despite the over reactive and possessive fans, more people were falling in love with these ponies, to the point that now famous celebrities admitted they were one more member of the community. Things occurred as the members were meant to be... or so they thought.

***

When we come back.

I didn’t realize I was becoming a different pony. I believed I was possessed by a spirit or something. Then, everything made sense... I became Twilight... I became Twilight.

When Behind the Laughter continues.

Author's Note:

I'm going to take a rest for a while, since this chapter was hard to write due to lack of time and inspiration. I hope you understand and I expect the next chapter came to me more easily. Thanks for your patience guys.

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