I’ll admit, I was split on this episode before I even watched a second of it. I was excited to finally be seeing more of Fluttershy’s homelife, but the synopsis of the story…eh…concerned me:
Right now more of my generation (including myself) are living at home longer, either because of unemployment or (more insidiously) underemployment, or just preferring to live with their parents over friends and random roommates. There is nothing inherently shameful about living at home, but you’ll still run into way too many think pieces about how “lazy” and “entitled” my “freeloading” generation is. Thankfully, this episode is not one of those awful think pieces.
Zephyr Breeze is a big, BIG risk. He’s got all the Millennial hipster stereotypes: man bun, permanent 5 o’clock shadow, coffee-house jazz as his theme music, and needing an art studio and a meditation patio. Combine that with his free-spirited, lazy, “me! me! me!” attitude and he’s come to move back home, Zephyr is like a Millennial straw man argument come to life.
However, the episode takes great strides to show that living at home isn’t the problem, taking over his parents’ house is. He still has his old bedroom set up, but he goes about changing the living room and back house of his parents’ home as if it was solely his home. He expects his dad to bring his suitcases in. He’s treating the house as if it is his own when it simply isn’t, especially since he doesn’t contribute anything towards the house. In contrast, for example, take Apple Jack and Big Mac, who live at home but who both contribute to the household.
Zephyr’s indecisiveness is an interesting aspect of this episode. A lot of it has to do with him not sticking to anything long enough for him to fully commit to any one interest because of a fear of failure, but I wonder if his indecisiveness also stems from a want to have a world of endless possibilities.
Rainbow Dash: So, Zeph, now that you’ve accomplished this, what’s next?
Zephyr: Anything I want! The sky’s the limit, right?
One reason to have endless possibilities may be from a fear of failing at one possibility, but another reason may be from a fear of succeeding at one possibility. It’s great when you’re a kid and you have all these different things you can do. When you do commit to one career, however, it’s a bittersweet feeling because you’re rejecting other possible paths, and sometimes you might wonder “what if I did this instead of that? Would I have been happier? More successful?”. Your world becomes narrower, in a way, because of this choice, but it’s still a choice that has to be made. It’s a more difficult choice to be made, however, if you don’t know what you’re passionate about.
What this episode did a great job showing is that you usually won’t find your passion in something if you don’t stick with it long enough. I’m a creative type like Zephyr (obviously), and for a long time I knew I wanted to write, but I also knew I needed a day job. After getting my BA, however, I was stuck on what I wanted that day job to be. It took getting into grad school, creating a small online magazine for a school project and tutoring before I finally figured out that I wanted to teach. If I started but stopped the magazine and tutoring halfway, however, I never would have figured out which career path I was more passionate about getting into. Luckily for Zephyr, once he finished his first doll head, he had enough passion to stick with it and graduated from mane therapy training.
And now let’s tackle the source of Zephyr’s inability to commit to…well, anything: his fear of failure.
Zephyr: Ugh, I can’t do this. I can’t do anything.
Fluttershy: Zephyr, you’re smart and talented. You could do anything if you tried.
Zephyr: And what if I give everything I had and still failed? Honestly, I think it’s better not to try at all.
Rainbow Dash: But then you won’t ever do anything.
Not uncomfortable in a “this story was written badly” way, but uncomfortable in a familiar way. Right after I got my BA, my own anxieties got the best of me and I never found an “after college job.” I worked at the same bottom-rung position at the grocery store I had while getting my BA, and I clung to it because I was too afraid of letting that job go. I was petrified of being laid off. After a couple of years of misery I decided to try to get into grad school, and after a couple of years I finally got into grad school. In a hilarious twist of fate, I was laid off a week before I was supposed to move 500 miles up north. Over the last year of living on my own and getting a job as tutor, I feel like I’ve finally found my own self-worth.
It’s just eerie that this episode came out right as I’m experiencing anxiety with finding a summer job, and that I’ve learned through (good and bad) conversations that my anxiety is rooted in a mentality that makes me think that my current accomplishments are meaningless because of my past failures, and that I’ll just fail again if I tried. But now that I’m aware of this mentality, I’m able to push through it, just as Zephyr was able to finish his first job after being honest with himself that he feared failing.
Even though Zephyr graduated at mane therapy training, he’s unable to find a place and needs to stay at his parents’ again. I wish the episode went on for another minute so we know for sure if he was able to stay and if his parents were okay with it, that this time he’s not taking advantage of his parents, but really needs a place to crash until he can find a place to live. Like shoot, have him say, “This time I’ll bring in my bags/help dust your cloud jars Pops/help you garden Mom.”
This was a hard episode to sit through. It had to be, though, or this would have been such a weak episode with no impact. I related to Zephyr’s struggles, but I was repulsed that he would be so manipulative in order to get others to do his work for him. Even though I probably will never sit down and have a cider with this guy, I was still rooting for him to better himself. His problem was simplified (because duh 20 min kid’s show episode), but his character showed how simple flaws can weave themselves into complex problems that feel impossible to overcome. He is such a fantastic character in a fantastic episode, and that couldn’t have happened if the MLP staff didn’t take their own advice from this episode and risk failure.
Now go and figure out which interest to commit to and how, and try your best in doing so, or Fluttershy would be so peeved. Nobody wants to peeve off Fluttershy.