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The show has so many possible things that can possibly ensnare skeptical viewers:
Cute, vivid animation
Pony wordplay (alliteration, puns, idioms, the song every few episodes)
moe cuteness, fashion princess, bookworm, lolrandom, tomboy, and a country character. Each with a very distinct voice and personality of good quality.
A show that is genuinely clean
The feeling of watching a girly cartoon (which very from person to person)
Clear references not intended for children
So far, clear and distinct side characters which can completely and even surpass the main characters in popularity
This combination sometimes leads to an intial feeling upon viewing of bliss that cannot be easily pinned. The feelings of watching a girl cartoon then catches up.
IN ADDITION: there is the /co/ connection
corruption in every sense: grimdark backstories, shipping (both clean and dirty), fanfap stories
fan pics, stories, wallpapers, memes,
REACTION IMAGES (truly worth repeating again)
steady stream of people confused to why they do enjoy it
trolls who do not enjoy it
charts to categorize the various stages of ponydom audiences
The show has so many things wrapped up into it that on /co/ it elicits quite a response.