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If you want to understand why /co/ took a liking to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, first you must take a look at the previous MLP animated series, partner.
The original series, called "My Little Pony and Friends" was your generic 80's cartoon aimed to sell toys for girls: Foced cuteness everywhere, lots and lots of characters (minus a personality), some stupid songs, cardboard villains and the forced morals at the end of each episode, PLUS 3 annoying human sidekicks that always ended up solving all the problems anyways. It hasn't aged well, and watching it now would feel like torture.
The second series removed the humans and put the ponies into a "normal" world to attempt a slice of life cartoon instead of the fantasy theme of the previous one. Except that "slice of life" for them equaled to "stories about parties, shopping, love crushes and banal crap."
It was a bad series to begin, it feels even worse now.
The third series was a piece of crap made of nothing but clichés, flash animation and "BUY OUR STUFF NOW", so the least said about said series, the better.
The fourth series, aka "Friendship is Magic" surprised everyone because it avoided the previous mistakes and was actually good. It's fun to watch, it's nicely animated (it avoids the "2-view" or "talking heads" cliche of the previous series) the background music is good and unique for each character, and said characters finally have... a character of their own.
/co/ expected it to be a massive flop, but it wasn't. That's all.