Dog and Pony Show (S1E19)


Watch as Rarity as she provides new definitions to damsel and distress.

When Sapphire Shores enters the Carousel Boutique and orders a half-dozen sparkly dresses for her new show, each with a different gem, Rarity finds herself with an opportunity but insufficient resources.  With Spike for slave labor, she heads out to use her magic talent for find gems with Spike digging and hauling.  Others are watching.  When these “gem lovers” kidnap Rarity so she can find gems for them instead, the remaining ponies and Spike have trouble following, Rarity is left with nothing but her personal resources to deal with a distressing situation.

Having one of the mane 6 kidnapped is a distressing departure for a children’s show, and despite loads of comedy and Spike’s fantasy’s of being a knight in shining armor riding a stead to save his princess, it can’t help but be unsettling for adults in the audience.  Equestria seemed inherently safer than our own realm.

But even a kidnapping is insufficiently edgy.

The story wades blithely, and in good humor, into feminism and post-feminism paradigms of girl-power and femininity.  As a feminist writer, I was shocked when I watched this episode the first time.  It took a number of distanced viewings to really understand Twilight’s nuanced interpretation of Rarity’s actions in the epilogue.  Retelling the classic O’Henry story with a vulnerable woman in a boy’s role is a brave choice for a children’s TV because of the baggage the gender change carries, and because it puts femininity and modern feminism together is an thoughtful spotlight.

What to watch for (and comment upon):

  • The creatures in this are a reference to what 1970s pop album and recording star?
  • To which pop singer does Sapphire Shore’s title, “Pony of Pop,” refer?
  • In how many unique ways does Spike dig for gems?
  • When Spike gets a bite on his blue sapphire baited fishing line, a pony daisy chain follows him in.  The trope is repeated in Power Ponies.
  • When Spike rides Twilight to battle the Rarity’s captors, to what show does his battle cry allude?
  • Extra credit: The plot of the story is a feminized version of what famous O’Henry short story?

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