Rarity is selected to be the PC(Pony of Ceremonies) for the upcoming “Ponyville Dayz” celebration, an event celebrating the founding of Ponyville. Her theme is “Small Town Chic” as she plans events to highlight the fancy and high society aspects of Ponyville, and hopes in doing so she can impress a trend writer named Trenderhoof coming to town that she harbors a crush on. Yet on arriving in town, Trenderhoof is soon smitten with Applejack instead and immediately starts gravitating to all things farm and labor related in an attempt to get her to feel mutual attraction. Not only is Applejack indifferent to him, but soon Rarity picks up on this and starts progressively making herself more farm and country-like in a desperate attempt to impress him, eventually even changing her plans for Ponyville Dayz to the theme “Simple Ways”; to reflect the most stereotypical and dirty aspects of rural living. At this point, Applejack grows upset that Rarity is abandoning her identity just to impress Trenderhoof and, to give her a taste of her own medicine, she starts acting like a fashionista herself. Eventually, this breaks Rarity and she realizes how silly she’s acting. She ends up telling Trenderhoof to his face (just as he too attempts to become a “rural pony” and move to Ponyville) that neither Applejack nor her can really respect/admire someone who would change themselves so easily just to try and make someone like them. Rarity changes the celebration back to its original form of “Small Town Chic” and write about the importance of staying true to yourself, and that if other people don’t like it “that’s their loss”.
Anyone ever see that one episode of “The Simpsons” where Lisa scientifically proves Bart is dumber than a hamster by electrifying a cupcake and watching that, no matter how many times he gets shocked by it, he won’t stop trying to grab it?
That’s a little like watching this episode.
For those of your who want to hear me say “there’s a bad Rarity-themed episode”, here you go. The fact it’s written by the same new writer who did “Castle Mane-Ia” doesn’t help one bit. This episode suffers from the same problem most of the “ho-hum” episodes suffers from: taking a joke that apparently seemed funny at the time and then running with it the whole episode, only for it never to really “work”. This episode is pretty much nothing more than the running gag of Rarity attempting to be more “country” and failing at it. It just never “works”. And while Rarity usually manages to carry episodes that are short on action…that’s only because they’re usually endearing ones that get to situations that are plausible with her character. Watching this episode a second time it’s a bit funnier, but over all it just falls flat again and again. It seems neither Rarity nor Applejack ever go “over the top” enough to get chuckles, and Spike is practically wallpaper in spite of this theme of this episode “hitting close to home”. It actually reminds me a lot of the equally subpar “Look Before You Sleep”, especially since this episode might as well just be Rarity and Applejack.
Yet the worst part is the main conflict for this episode. It’s no secret the main reason fans disliked the “Equestria Girls” movies is because they took a show made for younger audiences with lots of “spice” for adults and moved it into a “stereotypical adolescent girl scenario”. This episode did the same. But unlike “Equestria Girls”, which somehow managed to “work” in the first movie and had Sunset Shimmer and Twilight Sparkle’s interactions driving most of the second movie home…this one is just a phoned-in page from the live-action tween-orientated programming you see on Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel. And with characters who have become noteworthy for “conforming to character types and cliches while simultaneously balking them for more rounded female characters”, this is a big step backward. Granted, if you’re going to have any character on the show get infatuated with a guy in a stereotypical fashion, it would be Rarity considering her crush on Prince Blueblood in Season One…but, to me, this episode seems to “degenerate” her character a bit between her shrine to him and her “stereotypically girly” behavior. It’s not quite OOC…but there are moments when I get that vibe. Not to mention doing romance on a Y-rated show “just doesn’t work”. It handled it here well enough to not be as corny as, say, “Hearts and Hooves Day”…but it’s just not a good place for it.
I’ll compliment the episode on handling a good theme: the need to be yourself and not change who you are just to impress others. But…that’s kind of been an “accessory theme” in a few episodes so far, and it seems to handle it “weakly” here. While this episode isn’t as bad as I recall, it’s overwhelmingly yawn-worthy. It’s so dull even the title isn’t that original. “Simple Ways”…um, ok.
If this had been the fourth episode of this season rather than “Daring Don’t”, I would have been tempted to stop watching the season right there and wait for the DVD release. Yet as this was a rather “rusty cap” to a string of good-and-great episodes, I knew: “Next week will be better.”
About the only part of this episode I find funny is a “hidden joke” that’s somewhat meta. Rarity’s events include a “Silent Cider Auction and Tasting”. Ever since “The Super Speedy Cider Squeezie 3000”, the joke among fans was that the cider was alcoholic, and that’s why the ponies really wanted it. The fact that Rarity is hosting an event with cider that would normally be for wine kind of “confirmed it” to me.
I think the Mane Six’s reaction to Rarity’s mention of Trenderhoof mirrors that of the fans.
Spike looks directly at the camera with one of “those looks” when Rarity talks about how he could possibly understand what it means to be infatuated with a pony and find out they’re infatuated with somepony else. Normally I’d chuckle at such a thing…except for the fact Spike doesn’t look the slightest bit upset the entire episode to find out Rarity has a crush on Trenderhoof.
Ok, there is one other part of the episode that makes me smile. At one point, Trenderhoof says: “I take the mundane, the simple, and the unappreciated…” and points to a different pony for each adjective. For “the unappreciated”…he points at Derpy. 😛
Early in the series, I complained that Tabitha St. Germain seems to “muddle her accent” with Rarity, and how in “Luna Eclipsed” Rarity might not appear in that episode because she sounds a lot like Princess Luna. However, I applaud her in this episode for managing to make a spot-on “Rarity’s New England accent attempting to sound like Applejack’s country twang”. That couldn’t have been easy.
By comparison, Ashleigh Ball’s attempt to make Applejack sound “high society” barely looks like there was effort put into it. That might have been part of the idea, but in “The Cutie Mark Chronicles”, it was already established Applejack can force herself to talk without her country accent.
1.5 Stars out of 5