Analyzing “Suited For Success”

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Those of you who read the comments on my videos may remember how, when people offered to draw me an OC pony, I just sort of told them some colors I liked, some ponies with designs I liked, and a couple of general details. This is why. My design sense is about on the level of Twilight Sparkle, and in fact, the terrible dresses that the characters wear in this episode are strikingly similar to my everyday fashion sense.

I love Rarity so much. She hasn’t gotten to do ANYHING in season three, which is pretty sad, but some of her focus episodes are among my favorites in the show, such as this episode and Sweet and Elite. I relate a lot to Rarity’s passion for her craft, and in this episode, I particularly enjoyed watching her take on a huge number of projects at once since, hahahahaha…

Interestingly enough, I think Opalescence probably shares Rarity’s deep passion for fasion. Opal seems genuinely excited by how excellent Rarity’s initial set of dresses are, and appalled at the later set. Picky and mean as Opal is, there’s probably no one else she’d rather have as a master.

Now, I know there’s a lot of people who think that Rarity poorly represents the element of generosity, since she’s often very selfish, and especially so during Sweet and Elite. To that I say, just look at this episode. Not only for an example of Rarity being generous, but for an example of Rarity getting completely fucked for being generous in the first place. Now, to be fair, Rarity’s original designs were every bit as “for her” as they were for her friends, but the atrocious designs she did after that were purely out of generosity. Her friends walk all over her generosity, and then blindly almost get her entire career fucked over. Of course they do fix the problem, but still, I think I’d be careful about my own generosity after going through this myself. Rarity is ultimately generous where is counts, and her actions in Sweet and Elite are probably defensible as well, though I’ll talk about that when I get to it.

Out of the other ponies in this episode, the one with the most characterizing dialog is Fluttershy. I’ve brought up a few times how I think Fluttershy is manipulative and secretive, and if any episode shows that perfectly, this is the one. Fluttershy is openly comfortable with lying to Rarity about how she feels about the dress. Whereas Applejack and Twilight dodge the question and Rainbow Dash is totally blunt about it, Fluttershy takes a completely passive approach and tries to lie through her discomfort. The most fun thing about this is that underneath her passive nature, she’s actually the most critical of Rarity’s work. This huge fjord between the thoughts Flutters has and the words that she says is a pretty interesting lens to view the rest of her interactions through.

Rarity’s big freakout scene is brilliantly written, as she keeps trying to be dramatic, but also over-analyzing her own attempt at drama. I think Rarity’s drama scenes are some of the funniest in the show, and her character altogether might be the best vehicle for delivering comedy other than Pinkie Pie, when it’s done right. Besides this scene, the episode is loaded with great dry comedy, which is my favorite kind.

In terms of production quality, this episode is soaring. When faced with an episode that mostly involves ponies standing around talking to one-another, the animation staff could’ve rested on their laurels, but instead they generated some very expressive dialog animations, and poured their souls into making the episode’s big moments some of the most memorable and technically proficient in the show. In the DVD commentary of this episode, it’s pointed out that both fashion shows took a lot of effort to put together, and the second one was actually storyboarded by Lauren Faust herself just to make sure it came across as she wanted it to.

Of course, I can’t finish talking about this episode without mentioning some of its cultural impact. Between the phrase “20% Cooler,” and the introduction of Vynil Scratch, AKA DJ-Pon3, this episode possibly provided the most pony memeture of any episode of the show. That said, there’s really nothing to analyze about this, so… here’s me singing a gender-swapped rendition of Art of the Dress.

(art of the dress)

2 thoughts on “Analyzing “Suited For Success”

  1. I’d forgotten how well this ep works for me. I felt a little strange about the “not being overly critical” thing—and still do—but I love how everything’s placed on the table. What “Ticket Master” does implicitly, through tropes and implicit structure (my favorite sort of story), “Suited for Success” does overtly and straightforwardly, through overt and dramatic plot.

    The difference between the two, of course, is that this one draws attention to the receivers of gifts. “Ticket Master” assumes, rightly, not only that you can’t please everyone, but that beyond the miraculous or lucky feeling of gift-getting is often a giver whose personality may suck, be average, or be really awesome from moment to moment. According to its model, you’ve got to muck your way around pleasing both your friends and yourself; it’s often imprudent to assume some Venn diagram sweet spot wherein both you and your friends can get what you want; fortune is fickle. The ep ends with the responsibility of action, and the notion that you just might agree to shit you haven’t really thought through; but even in naïveté there may yet be a better or redemptive work begun.

    “Suited,” too, is honest about the risks of commitment. The fact is that people aren’t necessarily being jerks when they make demands from their friends, even though it may feel as if they are. Many shows lean too hard into playing a definite angle. Rarity is realistic, however, and she isn’t mad at her friends. To her, the whole thing’s really just bad luck. The fates weren’t aligned, she made her choice, and she’s dealing with the consequences. Her friends’ coming through for her is the set-up and the exploration, here—essentially the unpacking/elaboration of Celestia’s personal action at the end of “Ticket Master.” An inversion, if you will, visible in the gaps between the obvious and the subtle. It paves the way for a story about active ambiguity creation/processing rather than mere situational strangeness. It likely ties into why *not* quite believing what is said is a recurring thing and expected thing, whereas in “Ticket Master” the mares spoke “rightly” at the end, but weirdly. The truth is, a hell of a lot of times, you keep pushing until someone gives. How far should you push? And when you’re dissatisfied, to what extent should you follow through?

    The situation with Rarity’s dress is a little confusing to unpack, but all the necessary pieces may be there. We don’t know precisely who invited Hoity Toity to come visit. We’d assume Twilight or Spike, but we aren’t told. What’s the significance of Fluttershy’s skill with sewing, which made the alignment between Rarity’s tastes and their own possible? It’s worth noting that the issue isn’t different tastes, so much as it is the danger of conflating one’s sensibilities with those of other people. Hell, Rainbow just wants her outfit to look cool. The characters don’t exactly have bad fashion sense, though it’s easy to write off the arc as incorporating that. The individual fitting scenes are telling. We see mutual dysfunction that results in one side doing all of the work, and the others just ordering. In other words, “don’t waste time sitting back [and complaining] if you can do something—even clumsily—to help” is probably the more drawn-out version of the Report’s second half. Unsurprisingly, this isn’t said; what’s said is, “Don’t complain,” which is arguably the bullshit that everyone was struggling with throughout the episode.

    I can very honestly say that I enjoyed the song—inspired by “Putting It Together” from Sunday in the Park with George (— particularly the tune. The song is brilliant, aesthetically, because the source work engages precisely the same issues: in its context, POV, inspiration, individualism, and modern art. As you know, modernism has had…”mixed reception,” I guess (shared, to an extent, by me). In the end, maybe we can’t figure it out, and that gap’s unbridgeable. Think about the illusion cast on Hoity Toity. What happened there? He saw the dresses, but what about the scenario set-up. Unless Rarity’s super-skilled in magic, the most likely suggestion is an individualistic illusion. And there may have been not magic cast at all—maybe that was in our heads, their heads, or Rarity’s. Who knows?

    I’m not really into watching many of your vids, since I’m in the habit of reading them, but why do your viewers seem so pissed about your fanboying? Demands lololol…the irony of the situation.

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