"The Cutie Map"
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episodes
Episode nos.Season 5
Episodes 1 and 2
Directed by
Written by
Story byMeghan McCarthy
Produced by
  • Devon Cody
  • Stephen Davis (executive)
  • Kirsten Newlands (executive)
  • Sarah Wall (executive)
  • Meghan McCarthy (co-executive)
  • Jayson Thiessen (co-executive)
Featured musicSong and Lyrics by Daniel Ingram
"In Our Town", performed by Kelly Sheridan and ensemble
Editing by
  • M.A. Larson (story)
  • Rachel Kenzie (animatic)
Original air dateApril 4, 2015 (2015-04-04)
Running time44 minutes (combined)
Guest appearances
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Twilight's Kingdom"
Next →
"Castle Sweet Castle"
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (season 5)#Episodes
List of episodes

"The Cutie Map", also known as "Cutie Markless", is the collective name for the first and second episodes of the fifth season of the animated television series My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic as well as the ninety-second and ninety-third episodes of the series overall. The two episodes focus on Twilight Sparkle and her friends as they visit a village controlled by Starlight Glimmer, a unicorn who strives to achieve "equality" amongst all ponies by removing their cutie marks.[a] Both episodes were written by Scott Sonneborn and M.A. Larson from a story by Meghan McCarthy with Jayson Thiessen and Jim Miller as director and co-director, respectively.

First broadcast on Discovery Family on April 4, 2015, with both parts airing as an hour-long event, the premiere was a ratings success, becoming the series's highest-rated premiere in many demographics. The episodes received positive reviews from critics, who praised them for their messages and moral; in addition, both episodes were jointly nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form).

Plot

Part one

At Twilight Sparkle's new castle, she and her friends sit on their respective thrones and unwittingly activate a holographic map of Equestria, with floating images of their cutie marks[a] pointing to a remote location on it. Deciding to investigate, the six friends follow the map to find a utopian village of ponies who share the same cutie mark, a black equals sign. The six become wary of the villagers' exaggerated smiles and overly welcoming nature, except for Fluttershy, who is charmed by their courtesy. The six meet the village's leader, Starlight Glimmer, who explains that all the villagers have given up their cutie marks under her philosophy that differing talents and opinions cause strife between friends. Starlight encourages the six to remain and experience the village life, expecting for the rest of Equestria to follow her example.

The six friends later argue over their purpose for coming to the village, which attracts the attention of Sugar Belle, a baker who regrets giving up her baking talent. Sugar Belle is perplexed when the six are able to set their argument aside, and asks to see them in private. The six meet with her alongside two other villagers, Party Favor and Night Glider, who express eager curiosity over the six's cutie marks and friendship. Desiring to have their original marks again, the villagers inform the six of a cavern vault where their marks are stored alongside a mystical staff called the Staff of Sameness that, according to Starlight, grants her the ability to remove a pony's mark. Starlight leads the six to the vault, where the six become surrounded by the other villagers as Starlight forcibly removes their cutie marks with the staff.

Part two

Without their cutie marks, the six are trapped in a village prison chamber to be resocialized. Realizing they can escape by convincing Starlight they have conformed to her ways, the group sends Fluttershy to act the part. Fluttershy is successfully welcomed into the community, while Starlight punishes Party Favor to be imprisoned with the other five after he "confesses" to helping them alone, protecting Sugar Belle and Night Glider. Fluttershy later spies on Starlight to find she has sent Double Diamond to collect the six friends' cutie marks, with larger plans for Twilight's mark. She then sees Starlight accidentally splashing water over herself, washing off her own equal mark to reveal her real, unremoved mark.

When Starlight releases the five friends and Party Favor the next day, Fluttershy splashes water on Starlight to reveal her real mark to the villagers. Starlight confesses that she removed the ponies' marks with her own magic, and that the Staff of Sameness is just a piece of wood she found in the desert. The villagers revolt and reclaim their original cutie marks from the vault, while Starlight flees into the mountains with the six friends' marks. With the six hindered by their equalized abilities, Double Diamond, Party Favor, Sugar Belle, and Night Glider pursue Starlight and are able to recover the six marks using their own unique abilities. Starlight vanishes into the mountain caves while the villagers thank the six friends for helping them regain their individuality. The six later sense the map calling them through their cutie marks, determining that they have completed their work to bring friendship to the village.

Themes

The main theme of the episodes are that mediocrity is harmful;[2] The Federalist writer Brandon Morse further stated that they promote the message that Marxism is negative, whereas uniqueness and differences are essential in positive friendships and happy communities.[3] Alana Joli Abbott of Den of Geek considered "The Cutie Map" "a critique of Stalinism, or at least a government like the one in [George] Orwell's Animal Farm", where the leader is the only one content with the mediocrity.[2] Both critics deemed the message political.[2][3] Additionally, Abbott stated the show and episodes solve many of the problems in the science fiction fandom and highlighted faith, inclusion, celebrating differences, and the effect one could have as prominent themes.[2]

Production and promotion

Meghan McCarthy and M.A. Larson created the concept of Starlight Glimmer, and Kora Kosicka designed her final look.[4] Jim Miller, co-director of the episode, considered Starlight to be a "proto-Twilight character" and, thus, her colors were similar to Twilight's.[5] The Cutie Map was designed by art director Rebecca Dart.[6] Directors Jayson Thiessen and Jim Miller along with Dart and prop designer Charmaine Verhagen came up with the design for the Staff of Sameness;[7] Miller denied that it was inspired by the Spear of Longinus from the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion.[8] The only song featured in the episodes is "In Our Town". Sung by Kelly Sheridan in the first part, the series songwriter, Daniel Ingram, was inspired by World War II propaganda music, which he studied, and struggled to find its balance between motivation and "creepy as heck".[9][10] The orchestration of the song was done by Caleb Chan.[10]

In February 2015, a trailer for the season premiere was released by Yahoo! TV Videos[11] and was released on the next day by Hasbro.[12] Hasbro later released a new teaser trailer on February 14.[13] At the 2015 BABSCon, the entire two-part season five premiere was shown without commercials.[14][15]

Broadcast and reception

Ratings

Both parts of "The Cutie Map" aired back-to-back on Discovery Family as an hour-long event on April 4, 2015.[16] The first part was viewed by 509,000 people and second part was viewed by 574,000 people.[17] According to the Nielsen household ratings, both parts were watched by approximately 0.3 percent of American households.[17] The episodes became the series' top-rated premiere among kids aged 2–11, kids aged 6–11, and girls aged 6–11. During their timeslot, Discovery Family became the second most viewed network in both broadcast and cable among girls aged 6–11.[18]

Critical reception

Daniel Alvarez on Unleash the Fanboy gave the premiere a nine out of ten, praising the general writing of the episodes, the moral, and Princess Twilight. He also considered Starlight Glimmer a "great antagonist" but criticized Pinkie Pie for not "bring[ing] anything to the table aside from noticing a fake smile".[19] Morse stated that the episodes was a counterargument to the equality movement. Commending its humor and "blatantly negative reference[s] to equality", Morse desired for the episodes to "set a trend".[3] Abbott complimented the messages of individuality, lifting oneself up, and the effect one could have.[2]

Hugo Award nomination

In 2016, the episodes were jointly nominated for the Hugo Award for "Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)";[20] Den of Geek noted that this was the result of the Rabid Puppies ballot-manipulation campaign, but emphasized that it was a worthy nomination despite speculation that the Puppies' intent had been a "joke entr[y] designed to embarrass".[2]

Home media

Under the title "Cutie Markless", the two-part season five premiere was part of the "Cutie Mark Quests" DVD which was released on June 30, 2015.[21] It was also released as part of the complete Season 5 DVD set.[22]

Notes

  1. ^ a b A special symbol that appears on the ponies' rumps once they have discovered their purpose or special talent in life[1]

References

  1. ^ St. James, Emily (April 29, 2011). "My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic". The A.V. Club. Retrieved January 29, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Abbott, Alana Joli (May 10, 2016). "Why My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic's Hugo Nomination Is So Important". Den of Geek. Archived from the original on August 11, 2021. Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Morse, Brandon (April 8, 2015). "My Little Pony To Children: Marxism Is Not Magic". The Federalist. Archived from the original on April 10, 2015. Retrieved April 8, 2015.
  4. ^ Jim Miller [@TheBiggestJim] (March 9, 2018). "She was conceptualized by @MMeghanMcCarthy and @M_A_Larson, yes" (Tweet). Retrieved October 20, 2021 – via Twitter.
  5. ^ Begin, Mary Jane (October 13, 2015). My Little Pony: The Art of Equestria. Abrams Books. p. 108. ISBN 978-1-4197-1577-8.
  6. ^ Jim Miller [@TheBiggestJim] (April 4, 2015). "Awesome map design by @R_Dart. I wonder where we'll go this season? #MLP5" (Tweet). Retrieved April 5, 2015 – via Twitter.
  7. ^ Jim Miller [@TheBiggestJim] (April 4, 2015). "@FJRA_Frist It was a combo. @goldenrusset and I, with @R_Dart and @charmainevee" (Tweet). Retrieved October 24, 2021 – via Twitter.
  8. ^ Jim Miller [@TheBiggestJim] (April 4, 2015). "@FJRA_Frist @goldenrusset @R_Dart @charmainevee No" (Tweet). Retrieved April 4, 2015 – via Twitter.
  9. ^ Ingram, Daniel [@dannyimusic] (April 4, 2015). "Happy #MLPseason5 Premiere Day everypony!! Today's song 'In Our Town' was inspired by WWII Propaganda music. A first for me and MLP #creepy" (Tweet). Retrieved October 24, 2021 – via Twitter.
  10. ^ a b Ingram, Daniel (April 4, 2015). "Happy MLP Season 5 Premiere Day!! It's awesome to be in San Francisco over this beautiful Easter weekend for BabsCon 2015 where I've been able to experience the energy and excitement of the fandom first hand on this kick-off day. Today's premiere episode featured the song, 'In Our Town.' It was a first for me in this style and I had to do some pretty uncomfortable research on Mid-20th Century war propaganda marches to strike that balance between motivational yet creepy as heck!! Special thanks go to Caleb Chan for the orchestration and Kelly Sheridan for her great vocal performance". Facebook. Archived from the original on August 18, 2020.
  11. ^ "My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Season 5 Trailer". Yahoo! TV. February 11, 2015. Archived from the original on June 11, 2016.
  12. ^ "MLP: Friendship is Magic - Exclusive Season 5 Trailer". Hasbro Studios Shorts. February 12, 2015. Archived from the original on February 12, 2015. Retrieved October 20, 2021 – via YouTube.
  13. ^ "MLP: Friendship is Magic - Season 5 Teaser Trailer". Hasbro Studios Shorts. February 14, 2015. Archived from the original on March 24, 2015 – via YouTube.
  14. ^ "BABSCon 2015" (PDF). BABSCon. p. 28. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 24, 2021. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  15. ^ "See Images from BABSCon, A Massive My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Convention". WTVY. April 14, 2015. Archived from the original on April 14, 2015. Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  16. ^ Wolfe, Jennifer (March 25, 2015). "My Little Pony Season 5 Premieres April 4". Animation World Network. Archived from the original on July 28, 2021. Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  17. ^ a b Pucci, Douglas (April 8, 2015). "Saturday Final Nationals: 22.6 Million Viewers for Wisconsin-Kentucky on TBS, TNT and truTV". TV Media Insights. Cross MediaWorks. Archived from the original on April 12, 2015. Retrieved April 8, 2015.
  18. ^ "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Season 5 Premiere Brings Ratings Magic to Discovery Family Channel" (Press release). Discovery, Inc. April 10, 2015. Archived from the original on October 24, 2021. Retrieved July 24, 2021 – via The Futon Critic.
  19. ^ Alvarez, Daniel (April 5, 2015). "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic 'The Cutie Map' Review". Unleash the Fanboy. Archived from the original on June 22, 2017. Retrieved April 5, 2015.
  20. ^ Liptak, Andrew (August 20, 2016). "Here are the winners of the 2016 Hugo Awards". The Verge. Archived from the original on March 9, 2022. Retrieved March 9, 2022.
  21. ^ "My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Cutie Mark Quests". Shout! Factory. March 2, 2015. Archived from the original on December 29, 2016. Retrieved March 2, 2015.
  22. ^ "My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Season Five". Shout! Factory. Archived from the original on May 26, 2021. Retrieved July 24, 2021.