Saturday, May 06, 2017

"Fluttershy leans in"

I probably have to rewatch the episode, either when they re-run it in the coming week, or on Dailymotion or somewhere, to get what I missed, but here are my early impressions. I found it somewhat uncomfortable.

Understand that I am still cranky because I am feeling taken for granted and slightly overworked.

Anyway. It starts off with Angel Parkour. Okay, the idea of that is kind of cool even if Angel is that jerk who makes Fluttershy's life 20% more complicated because of his wants.

Anyway, the macguffin that sets this whole thing up: Angel gets an owie doing Parkour, and of course Fluttershy is out of "bunny braces," and instead of going to the market (maybe it's not a market day? Maybe Ponyville is like towns of old where there's only one day a week when you can buy most stuff?) she goes to Dr. Fauna*

(*I am now wondering if she has a twin named Dr. Flora who checks trees for disease)

Dr. Fauna is the veterinarian, so that destroys any headcanon that that's how Fluttershy earns her living. (I have decided she MUST be some kind of a trust-fund pony; you never see her working, and yet she has enough money for her needs and to care for a bunch of mooching animals)

Dr. Fauna has a problem: too many of the animals have gotten "too comfortable" and don't want to leave. (Hm. Shades of that SpongeBob episode where Squidward starts mooching off him). Instead of issuing tough love, Dr. Fauna lets them stack up - making her life harder.

(I SAID this was an uncomfortable episode to me. I never know, with certain students, when to say "You failed. You get NOTHING!" and when to say "Oh my yes I understand your life is hard even if some of that difficulty is the result of your own poor choices so I will let you make up that thing even though it puts me out considerably")

Aside #1: Apparently not all ungulates in Equestria are sapient. There's a giraffe there who is essentially in the "pet role" (in fact, he looks like an escapee from The Littlest Pet Shop, even if he is a normal-sized giraffe). I wonder how the decision is made on who is sapient or not. (I am now thinking of the creation of Narnia, and how some of the animals became Talking and some were not....)

Fluttershy has an idea: why not open an animal sanctuary! The animals could recuperate there and leave when they're ready! (Which, knowing the mooching critters of Equestria, will be "never")

So she floats the plan to her friends. Who themselves have friends who are Experts and therefore would love to help!

Uh-oh. I know already where this is heading: the Experts will be flakes in some way and Fluttershy will have to, as the title says, "Lean In," which meant I presumed she'd do all the work herself.

Three experts: an architect/builder ("Hard Hat"), an interior designer ("Dandy Grandeur" - ugh, what a name) and an animal wrangler, called, well, "Wrangler"

Aside #2, a personal aside: I said this was an uncomfortable episode? "Wrangler" is part of it. I've said before that when I was a kid, my parents were very frugal and also I was sometimes kind of bad at reading social cues. I wound up somehow, in junior high, with a pair of Wrangler brand jeans. Had I grown up in Texas or Oklahoma, that would have been no big deal - I would have been assumed to have been a farm girl or a ranch girl or into rodeo. But I grew up in Ohio, and in the Snooty Wannabee New England Village part of Ohio. So Wranglers were infra dig and I got harassed for having them.

Yeah. I acknowledge as an adult that (a) it was stupid for kids to tease me over that (but kids are jerks to other kids and anyone who pulls the "kids are little ANGELS" argument on me gets a hard stare) and (b) I was stupid and immature for letting it bother me, but it did. Bothered me so deeply that I remember the feeling 35 years later. Part of it was it was so exclusionary, and exclusionary in a way I couldn't control - my parents bought my clothes and there is no way on earth they would have paid the premium for Jordaches. Part of it was that "Wrangler" was such an awful nickname to me - to me, it smacked of unfemininity, and I was trying hard to present as someone who might, just, be Interesting To Boys Someday and that nickname....well, it felt like it took that away from me, it labeled me as something I was not. And again: there was NOTHING I could do about it.

And so, rather than rejoicing a little over a pony named Wrangler, I cringe a little. It doesn't help that she's not exactly a sympathetic character.

Anyway. Aside over.

The three "helper" ponies have their own ideas - Hard Hat, in fact, as much as says "She doesn't know what she wants, bless her heart" and plans to proceed to recycle his hospital plans because hospital, animal sanctuary, what's the diff?

And Dandy, he can't BELIEVE the tacky "nature themed" decor scheme Fluttershy wants

Aside #3: "Air quotes" are canon, even if they look weird when you only have hooves to do them with.

And Wrangler, she knows animals. Animals go in cages. A cage is like a warm hug!

Yeah, great.

So Fluttershy gets stallion-splained (and mare-splained, in the case of Wrangler) why she doesn't want want she wants. These ponies are "experts" but their expertise doesn't really transfer to what Fluttershy wants.

Hm. I wonder if there's a tiny echo of the early (can't remember if 1 or 2) season "Good with animals, therefore good with kids" boast Fluttershy made (in Stare Master) and she found out in fact that was not true.

I suppose the "grown-up moral" of this episode is: beware experts stretching beyond their wheelhouse. The thing is, none of these "experts" apparently sees the error of their ways, which would be a dandy lesson in itself: Humility is Magic! Instead, they're just summarily let go, and...

Here comes Dr. Fauna with her animals. But the preserve isn't done!

(And I admit, I felt pain for Fluts right there. I've been in situations like that: where people I was depending on flaked on me, and then faded away when it was clear the project wasn't going to be done, leaving me to take the blame. But Equestria is better than Earth, because Dr. Fauna doesn't excoriate Fluttershy for not being done....though I will say this episode could have had an Epic Fluttercry Scene right there, and if I were playing Fluttershy, there would have been one, because of the Shame of not being done....even if it wasn't strictly my fault)

But Fluttershy has grown: she doesn't cry, and in fact, she has told those Experts just how wrong they are. But she still has the problem of an unfinished Preserve.

So anyway. Because the experts were idiots who didn't want to listen to the real expert, it now falls on the Mane Six (and relatives) to take care of the problem of finishing the preserve. (Hm. Feels a little bit like real life there).

But then, a Real Expert gets called in: special Guest Star from an earlier episode, and who knew he understood animals as well as building? (I didn't).

(Also, I'm now secretly wishing for a ponified Mike Rowe in one of these episodes)

In the end, everything's good: the preserve gets done, the animals are happy, and we now know that giraffes, sloths, and koalas exist in Equestria.

So anyway: uncomfortable (for me at least) start, good finish. And the cute animals that DHX animates are always good. Though I would have liked to have seen more investigation of the so-called experts realizing their egos ran away with them, and they could have actually learned something from Fluttershy's plan and design....

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