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Under Hasbro's guidance, Faust developed the show to appeal to the target demographic of young girls and their parents, but created characters and settings that challenged formerly stereotypical norms of "girly" images, and added adventure and humorous elements to keep parents interested.
The show received praise from television critics and parental groups.
Its technology-savvy members have created numerous works in writing, music, art, and video based on the show, have established websites and fan conventions for the show, and have participated in charitable events around the show and those that create it.
The appreciation of the show by an older audience came as a surprise to Hasbro, Faust, and others involved with its development, but they have embraced the older fans while staying focused on the show's intended audience.
For a guy to like My Little Pony, it's so out there that it becomes almost avant garde. Roberta Pearson of the University of Nottingham in film and television studies stated that "This is a level of fan devotion I've not seen before," while Prof.
Hub Network's CEO and President Margaret Loesch, who was the executive producer of the 1980s and 1990s animated My Little Pony television shows, noted that there were male fans of those past shows, but there are considerably more for Friendship Is Magic due to the quality of the show and the influence of social media and the Internet.
Some bronies are enlisted personnel in various United States Armed Forces, who have included the various "cutie marks" symbols from the show as insignia on their uniforms or equipment, despite not being appropriate practice for most branches, or worn only during training operations.
Margaret Loesch, the CEO and President of The Hub, noted from an email from a group of United States enlisted personnel in Afghanistan explained how they came by the show by way of their daughters, but found the emphasis on teamwork and covering each other's backs resonated with their military fellowship.
Amidi's essay expressed concern that assigning a talent like Faust to a toy-centric show was part of a trend towards a focus on profitable genres of animation, such as toy tie-ins, to deal with a fragmented viewing audience, and overall "an admission of defeat for the entire movement, a white flag-waving moment for the TV animation industry." The article said this concern was over the fact that more and more shows seem to be driven by company executives who want to sell their products, rather than creators.
Though the show had been discussed on 4chan's cartoon forum before the essay's publication, the alarmist nature of the essay led to more interest in the show, resulting in a positive response for the series for its plot, characters, and animation style.