Contextualising the Bronies: Cult, Quality, Sub-Culture and the Intricacies of Contemporary Fandoms

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This paper critically situates My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and the ‘brony’ following it has attracted in terms of age and fandom, discourses of quality television, cult media, and interactions between fandoms and cultural producers. Far from unprecedented, the show’s unexpected male audience reflects adults’ historic appreciation of media for children, the increased mainstreaming of animation, and the already infantilized persona of media fans. Aspects of the reimagined series reproduce characteristics of ‘quality television’ concerning characterisation, genre, authorship and political intentionality. Simultaneously the show corresponds with overlapping aspects of cult television and cult cinema, crucially affording both cultural and sub-cultural value. Finally, examples of the series deliberately courting adult fan audiences are presented as reflecting reciprocal relationships between show producers and its mature viewers. The brony following consequently reflects changes in contemporary fandom dynamics, and the increasing mobility of twenty-first century television viewing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-104
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Popular Television
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020



  • brony
  • cult media
  • cultural capital
  • fandom
  • My Little Pony
  • quality television

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