My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a children's animated television series produced by Hasbro Studios in the United States (for scripts) and at DHX Media's studio located in Vancouver, British Columbia (for animation; formerly known as Studio B Productions). The series, based on Hasbro's My Little Pony line of toys and animated works, is intended for girls age two through 11 and is often referred to be the fourth generation ("G4") of the My Little Pony franchise, as classified by collectors, following earlier lines and television show tie-ins in the 1980s and 1990s. The series premiered on October 10, 2010, on The Hub, later rebranded as the Hub Network, an American pay television channel partly owned by Hasbro. The show is currently in its fifth season, which premiered on April 4, 2015, and a sixth season is already planned. The show is broadcast internationally in dozens of countries in more than twenty languages. Two feature films, My Little Pony: Equestria Girls and its sequel Rainbow Rocks, have been made and shown in limited theatrical screenings prior to broadcast and home media release. A feature-length film separate from the Equestria Girls brand has also been announced for a theatrical release sometime in 2017.
Hasbro selected animator Lauren Faust as the creative director and executive producer for the show. Faust sought to challenge the established nature of the existing My Little Pony line, creating more in-depth characters and adventurous settings while incorporating Hasbro's suggestions for E/I ("educational and informational") content and marketing of the toy line. Faust left the show during the production of the second season, but is credited as a consulting producer. Jayson Thiessen, the show's supervising director, became the showrunner starting with season two.
The show follows a studious unicorn pony named Twilight Sparkle as her mentor Princess Celestia guides her to learn about friendship in the town of Ponyville. Twilight becomes close friends with five other ponies: Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie Pie. Each represents a different face of friendship, and Twilight discovers herself to be a key part of the magical artifacts known as the "Elements of Harmony". The ponies share adventures and help out other residents of Ponyville, while working out the troublesome moments in their own friendships.
The show has been critically praised for its humor and moral outlook. Despite the target demographic of young girls, Friendship Is Magic has also gained a large following of older viewers, mainly young and middle-aged men, who call themselves "bronies". Reasons for this unintended appreciation include Faust and her team's creative writing and characterization, the expressive Flash-based animation style, themes that older audiences can appreciate, and a reciprocal relationship between Hasbro, the creators, and the fans. Portions of the show have become part of the remix culture, and have formed the basis for a variety of Internet memes. As a result, in part of this unexpected cross-demographic audience interest, the series has become a major commercial success, becoming the most highly rated original production in the Hub Network's broadcast history and leading to new merchandising opportunities for Hasbro, including books, clothing, collectible trading cards, and comics.