Analyzing “Sisterhooves Social”

Text version and links:

My OC is designed by Mizuki Takashima:
Ending cards by Munchy:

Ending Theme is Wrong by me:

Holy shit, what’s happening?! Did you think this avatar was gone forever? Come on now, it’s called the S4 diary. So if it’s not S4 then it’s not the same. Sheesh, as if I could just toss out such an awesome design.

Sisterhooves Social continues the trend of season two’s stellar opening arc, with an episode that not only provides a pitch-perfect potrayal of familial feuding, but was the fodder for one of the fandom’s most popular parody pictures: the friendship is witchcraft episode Neigh, Soul Sister.

I watched this episode while marathoning the show in early 2012, but I got some interesting insight into the initial impact of the episode at last year’s bronycon when Griffin Lewis of Sherclop Pones explained the inspiration behind the Sweetie Bot character. Up until this point, Sweetie Belle had been so under-explored and seemingly devoid of personality that fans considered her a frivolous character, hence the idea to make her a robot. However, when Sisterhooves Social came out, Sweetie was suddenly the most-developed member of the Cutie Mark Crusaders, so the joke was to make the robot the most well-realized character in Friendship is Witchcraft.

This episode also introduces us to Rarity and Sweetie Belle’s parents, who give a surprisingly subtle insight into how Rarity came out the way that she is. Because her parents are decidedly unstylish midwestern commoners with equally common interests, Rarity’s passion for high fashion could be seen almost as rebellious, or a sign of wanting to escape her lowly status. This might also explain why Rarity is so paranoid all the time about whether or not she can succeed in the world of high fashion. Being born to such humble beginnings probably fills her with doubt about the legitimacy of her high-society social skills. In her heart of hearts, she knows that she’s the product of a small town and plebeian parents, and part of her will always be connected to that.

Rarity’s episodes have always shown her to be an obsessive perfectionist holding herself to the highest imaginable standard of quality in every endeavor. In this episode, we get some insight into how that brand of professionalism would effect her interactions with the ponies closest to her.

To be a perfectionist is, in many ways, to stand alone. To have an exact vision that you want to express, you often have to create everything on your own, because others cannot understand your vision the way you can. As a matter of fact, the reason I work alone for the most part is that I tend to have a very clear idea of what I like to see and an exact knowledge of how to make it happen, so involving others only convolutes what I’m trying to do. That said, I’m not nearly the perfectionist that Rarity is, and I’ll gladly involve people who I think have a better visionary style than my own, but I can completely understand the mentality of not wanting anyone to help you even doing the most basic stuff like cooking, because you want it to be done just right.

Likewise, I relate to Rarity’s room and it’s “organized chaos” all too well. I can’t say there’s ever been a time when my room was consistently clean, though it’s not nearly as bad now as it’s been in the past, but even when my room is a total clusterfuck, I generally know where everything is. Sometimes, it can be more confusing to look for something where it’s supposed to go when I’m used to it being just lying around somewhere. Every once in a while, for some reason when I’m out on a long trip, my mom will randomly decide to clean my room when I’m gone, and while I totally appreciate it because having a clean room is awesome, it’s always a little bit disorienting at first.

That said, by not having Rarity’s kneejerk reaction to change, I’m also able to capitalize more easily on the resultant threads of inspiration. Creativity that springs out from changing or limited circumstances is often where some of the best ideas come from. Many artists, such as filmmakers, animators, and video game developers, have to make use of the restrictions that come with smaller budgets and teams, by taking things that appear to be a disadvantage and turning it into a creative advantage that enhances the work even more. For instance, my favorite anime director and studio are Akiyuki Shinbo and Studio SHAFT, who are known for making up for their small staff and budget restrictions by making highly stylized shows whose unique visual style makes up for their lack of budget.

When your sweaters shrink, you make cat sweaters. When your creative mindset changes, you make something new. Sometimes, that which seems like a waste can turn out to be a great piece of work if you look at it the right way. Sometimes creativity is really about working with what you have and making the most of it.

I realize at this point I’ve mostly been talking about Rarity, but equally important to the episode is Sweetie Belle, whose struggle, while simple and easily understood, is equally relatable and interesting to watch. I have witnessed personally the way a child will become envious of another family’s relationship out of their inability to fit in with their own family, though in my case it’s only ever been my friends who were envious of MY family.

Much like the Apples, my brothers and I are incredibly close and do almost everything together. My family is very tightly-knit, and we’re very accepting of friends into our business and lives. However, when a family has a certain rhythm to it, inviting other people into that rhythm can sometimes disturb it, especially if the person doesn’t really GET what makes us so close in the first place.

In my teen years, one of my friends really wanted to be a part of my family. He was envious of our lifestyle and togetherness and pretty openly stated how he wanted to be thought of as a family member, not unlike how Sweetie Belle announces the same to the Apple family. It kind of goes without saying though that this isn’t something you can force. I have had friends who naturally acclimated to my family’s rhythm and became almost as close as family to me, but it happened naturally over the course of years of hanging out together, and not through force of will. Unfortunately that friend still is very distant from his family and still seems to be seeking a family that he can really fit into.

I’d say more about this episode, but I think a lot of its appeal is very straightforward. It’s well-paced, has a lot of fantastic dialog and memorable moments, and is generally one of the show’s stronger episodes. However, the next episode that I want to tackle is the polar opposite: possibly the single least-liked episode among most of the bronies that I’ve talked to–an episode so openly considered poor that a lot of people have taken it for granted that I don’t like the episode, even though I’ve never talked about it before. I’m of course speaking of the Mysterious Mare do Well. Let’s see how it goes!

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