You all have probably know about the new generation of My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic. It has, for one reason or another, become an overnight sensation. Whether or not you like the show yourself, you have to admit that its success is impressive.
However, it raises a question. Lauren Faust has worked on other popular shows, and has been working on her own line of toys, The Galaxy Girls. How did she wind up creating the re-make of some 80’s toy commercial instead of working on her own show ideas? It could be that she’s just nostalgic about her childhood MLP toys or something, but even then, what artist wouldn’t rather work on their own ideas?
I read this news story a few years ago. It was about 6 girls who all went to the same school, and died on the same day, Januaray 18th, 1989. A friend of mine from N.C. sent me the article from a small local newspaper. I forgot about it until I was watching a few episodes of MLP and realized the main characters are surprisingly similar to the girls who died. I decided to look for that article again. The paper had either gotten shut down or I had misremembered the name, so I tried tracking down my old World of Warcraft buddy and asked him for the article. Turned out he happened to have the file saved to his computer, and I was right! There’s a definite connection here!
The first girl, named Samantha Gales, was obviously the inspiration for Fluttershy. A shy, introverted girl, what her classmates didn’t know was that she was constantly abused at home by her mother and stepfather. Her mother conceived her at age 15, and she blamed poor Samantha for ruining her life. This made Samantha self-conscious. When her stepfather moved in, this made the neglect worsen. Her stepfather never liked having to take care of Samantha when her mother was away, so he would lock her in the basement and leave her, sometimes for a whole day. Her mother tolerated this, and, as she grew, would hit Samantha for talking out of turn. When her half-sister was born, the abuse became considerably worse. She would be starved, forced to sleep outside, and sometimes beaten outright. Because she dressed in shabby clothes and had low self-esteem, she was often picked on by other kids at school. Her only friends were animals she would rescue, which her family would make her get rid of. She committed suicide by overdosing on valium.
The second, named Janice Walters, was always one of the popular girls. She was rich, smart, beautiful, and seemed to live the charmed life. However, her parents argued constantly and were really only together for appearances. She was held up to a high standard, which made her a perfectionist. She wanted to be a designer and live in Paris, but her parents wanted her to remain in Carolina and marry a proper man, one of good breeding and high income. For the most part, her parents ignored her. Her parents’ only concern was appearing rich and of high social standing, but in reality, her mother married her father because of money, and since he had accumulated so much debt, they had been losing money, fast. This is what got her interested in fashion initially, since she started making her own fashionable clothes to maintain the appearance of wealth. She died in a car crash, when her mother and father got into another argument over money while he was driving. Her neck was snapped on impact and she died instantly. She was clearly the inspiration for Rarity.
Then there was Alexandra Matthews. Alex was a competitive girl. She always sought to be the best at the best, especially at sports, track in particular. Her father always wanted a boy, and since her mother was declared incapable of having another child, he decided to raise her as if she was his son. In the end though, she loved her mother and father, and was more than happy to play sports with her father. She excelled at them, even. This made her popular, and by the time she was in high school, was being sought out by athletic scouts from Colleges all over the country. This made her try even harder. She had always wanted to compete in the Olympics. However, when she was 15, her mother, who had been told she could never have another child, had a son. After that, her parents didn’t pay very much attention to her, which made her more determined to succeed. She ended up pushing herself so hard at track, she neglected her friends, her grades, and even her personal health. At one point, she became so desperate, she started taking steroids. What her and her family didn’t know was that she had a minor heart condition that the steroids worsened. Since she was pushing herself so hard physically as well, she ended up collapsing during a match due to a heart complication. She died in the hospital, a few days later. In the show, Rainbow Dash seems the most similar.
The girl most similar to Applejack, Jamie Sanders, was a farm girl, just like the character based off of her. What the show didn’t include was that her farm was run down, and her family always struggling with money. She often times worked odd jobs under the table to try and help to support her family. She had many brothers and sisters, and she was the second, which meant it was up to her and her brother to take care of the “youngins”. This meant she didn’t have enough time to hang out with friends or take any extracurricular activities, or even do her homework on most nights. She had an aunt, whom her family from Manhattan was based off, who kept offering to send money to support her mother and father, but they were proud and always refused. That is until her father died from a heart attack in 1987. Her mother followed shortly after, having killed herself when she couldn’t handle the pressure of taking care of all the children. They were taken in by their then senile grandma, who was incapable of truly taking care of them. Jamie herself often times helped out with other family’s yard work to keep her family afloat. She died when she fell into a wood chipper.
Pinkie Pie’s inspiration probably has the saddest story. Katherine Jackson was a foster child and moved from home to home. Her birth father killed her mother and himself in a fit of rage when she was 5, and she could never quite settle into a good home. Some of the foster families who would take her in were merely interested in the financial support adopting a child would bring, and would refuse to feed or clothe her. Even when she was in a nice home with a good family, the old memories still haunted her, breaking her fragile sanity into a million pieces. She would have nightmares of her mother’s screaming and bleeding and her father screaming for her, claiming to be after her next. By the time she was in high school, she completely snapped. She started to hallucinate and act out in class. Many of the other kids and even teachers assumed she was merely hyperactive and was trying to be funny. She would often times paint and draw and write about fantastical things, and dressed in over the top clothing. All the while her condition was getting worse and worse, the voices and images becoming more realistic and more demanding. She died when she jumped off a building, one of the voices having told her she could fly. What makes that last fact even more chilling is that Lauren originally designed Pinkie Pie to be a pegasus, as seen in her early development sketches.
The last, Twilight Sparkle’s inspiration, was an A student by the name of Cynthia Little. She was held up to a high standard from a young age. Her older brother was always getting awards for academic and athletic achievement, and she was held up to the same high standard. She ended up neglecting other facets of her life in order to make sure she got the best grades. For a while, this worked. Her parents were proud of her accomplishments and bragged to their friends about having not just one genius child, but two. That is until a local private academy for the gifted started to become interested in her, among several other advanced students. She knew that this would be the best opportunity she could have to prove herself as the perfect child. But the pressure was high. She knew that there were limited spots for new students, and she knew that there would be a test and an essay required to get in. So she became a little desperate. She studied to the point where she would hardly eat, and never sleep. As the test closed in, she panicked, and she opted to find an essay online to copy, and during the test resorted to cheating. When she was caught, her parents were horrified. She sank into a deep depression, and eventually hung herself to save herself the shame of being an imperfect daughter.
You might be wondering now why Lauren Faust would be inspired to make a sweet children’s show inspired by such depressing events. Perhaps she felt some odd need to give the girls closure, or perhaps to tell their stories in any way she could. Think about it. In one episode named " The Cutie Mark Chronicles", each pony describes of how they each earned one's cutie marks. Rainbow Dash, who was able to make a Sonic Rainboom on the same day for all girls to see and to make them be able to earn their cutie marks, clearly makes you tend to wonder about each girl's death in real life on the same day. And In the show, Fluttershy is able to take care of the animals she adores, Rarity is a successful designer with loving parents, Rainbow Dash is in fact a great athlete, Applejack has a successful farm, Pinkie Pie is happy with not a care in the world, and Twilight Sparkle was accepted into an exclusive school. Maybe, just maybe, she wanted to give the spirits of these girls what the always wanted.
And I think they’re happy.