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At first, I was reluctant to watch My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I mean, come on. It's a kid's show about hyperactive, technicolor ponies. But one night, the wife fired up the series on Netflix (sure -- I'll just blame her.) I hate to admit it, but it's become one of my favorite shows.

It's an adorable and fun show, but what hooked me were the allusions; the jokes that fly past the target audience like Rainbow Dash on her way to a Wonderbolts air show. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • At the beginning of "Cutie Pox," a few of the background bowling alley ponies unmistakably inspired by characters from The Big Lebowski.
  • "The Return of Harmony, pt. 2" concludes with a nod to the end of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, including a rapid iris wipe to the closing credits.
  • In "Read it and Weep," Rainbow Dash reads the adventures of Daring Do, a pony who is more than a little reminiscent of Indiana Jones.
  • In season three, "One Bad Apple" treats us to an A-Team-style montage, complete with a sound-alike of the A-Team montage music.
  • "Wonderbolts Academy" riffs on Top Gun throughout the episode.

The thing that really kills me is how needlessly subtle these allusions are. I think it's safe to say that none of the kids watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic have seen The Big Lebowski (and if they have, parenting win) yet the joke is thrown-away, little more than a wink to the adult viewers. The references sneak up on you, which makes it that much funnier.

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