Equestria Uncovered: Hanging out with Cheerilee and Berry Punch

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Cheerilee and Berry Punch. Wouldn’t these two be perfect for a 90’s style sitcom?  The earnest sister with a frustrating job and the snarky sister with a drinking problem.  WACKEYNESS ENSUES!!  All kidding aside, there’s something about these two that makes them very endearing despite how little we know about Cheerilee from canon, and how one dimensional the portrayal of Berry Punch has been in fan made content.

So what do we know from canon?  Cheerilee was brought over, mostly unchanged, from a G3 pony with the same name, who herself was a reimagined version of an earlier pony named Cherry Blossom.  She made appearances in some of the G3 films such as Twinkle Wish Adventure, Sweetie Belle’s Gumball House Surprise, and Pinkie Pie’s Ferris Wheel Adventure, some of which where she appears to be younger ( G3.5) and is the sister of G3 Scootaloo.  Berry Punch on the other hand is a G4 original background character that eventually got her name on some of the merchandise after the fans started calling her that.  She got her reputation as the town alcoholic after a scene from Call of the Cutie where she’s seen drinking straight out of a punch bowl.  Since Berry Punch isn’t really a character who exists within the show, there’s not much more to discuss about her in terms of her design in regards to characterization.  Cheerilee on the on the other hand has something about her that makes her worthy of deeper examination.  What I feel makes her unique among the citizens of Ponyville, is that’s she’s overwhelmingly typical, but still has enough screen time to be a notable character.  Think of all the other people who make appearances in the show.  The Cakes?  They’re pretty normal, but they have to deal with Pinkie Pie on a daily basis.  Zecora?  She clearly has a very interesting past and lives in a very dangerous part of Equestria.  Look at almost any other character, and you can at least deduce an interesting aspect of their lives that is completely foreign to what we see in our everyday lives.  Cheerilee on the other hand has never been given a lot of unique characterization or a detailed backstory which is mostly due to the fact that her primary role has been to be a foil for the CMC.  The only thing we really know about her is that she’s the local school teacher, and that later episodes show that she has a certain level of cynicism that occasionally bubbles to the surface past her kind hearted persona.  She genuinely believes in the importance of her job as an educator, but we get small moments in the show which let us see that not every day of it is a walk in the park.

 “I LOVE being a teacher.  It’s the kids I can’t stand.”

“I LOVE being a teacher. It’s the kids I can’t stand.”

It does a lot to make the character very relatable very quickly.  We all know people like this who try really hard to maintain their chipper composure and occasionally fail.  It’s good to have a character that can sometimes ground the craziness around them with a simple eye roll or dismissive response.

So what have the fans done for these two characters?  The obvious one is that fan canon has made the two of them sisters which, if you think about it, represents something that we haven’t seen in the show yet.  There may be a lot of siblings, but most of them are of vastly different ages such as Applejack and Applebloom, and Rarity and Sweetie Belle.  The only ones who are of similar age are Pinkie with her sisters, but they won’t make an appearance until season four.  Twilight and Shining Armor aren’t too far apart, but they don’t see each other often enough to have a close relationship (no matter how many songs they sing saying otherwise).  Two full grown adults who have the kind of relationship only two sisters can have?  It’s something I’ve seen explored in some fan made content, and it’s an angle I like to see when it’s done right.

THIS IS NOT DOING IT RIGHT!!!

THIS IS NOT DOING IT RIGHT!!!

Cheerilee doesn’t have a lot of characteristics that the fans have created for her.  They mostly take a slice of life approach to the character so that we can explore more of her life outside of school.  The only other major contributions have been the ships, two of which have become the primary ones for the character.

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When it comes to Cheerilee X Big Mac, I don’t see a lot of interesting things to make this ship unique.  What we know about these characters is already pretty limited, so trying to find an interesting angle to make this ship more than the most basic kind of boy meets girl romance is particularly difficult.  That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with having a simple premise; it’s just that I feel this ship can only go so far without adding character traits that weren’t established in the show.

Cheerilee X Twilight on the other hand has some interesting dynamics to work with that makes it the more interesting ship of the two.  What we have is an educator and a student falling in love.  Twilight has been the personal student of the highest authority in the country for most of her life and continues to pursue her education.  Cheerilee is an educator whose special talent is in teaching others and helping them grow.  In my mind, the attraction from Twilight’s end is due to her lofty view of Cheerilee’s profession, and possibly some unresolved feelings for her own teacher, Princess Celestia.  Cheerilee, being a teacher of young children, probably feels she doesn’t get the respect she deserves from her students who don’t appreciate the value of education as much as they should because of their young age.  Twilight on the other hand truly appreciates and admires her profession.  They are both getting something out of the other, but outside of that, what do they have?  What is Cheerilee besides a teacher, and would Twilight appreciate her when she’s just a normal pony?  It reminds me of 3rd Rock from the Sun, where Sally fell in love with Don Orville, a local cop played by Wayne Knight.  Of course, she was only attracted to him when he was in the uniform which started out as a running joke, but eventually ended in one of the show’s most poignant moments.

Cheerilee 5

It’s something that’s definitely worth exploring without adding too much to the characters that hasn’t already been established in canon, which is why I think this is the better of the two ships.

Fan canon for Berry Punch tends to show her as a single mother living with Colgate (sometimes known as Minuette).  Her alcoholism seems to be the most prominent aspect of her character, but I see that as missing out on some great characterization to instead focus on drunken humor (or tragedy).  I don’t mind alcohol being a factor in her life; having something like that to struggle with can create a very fascinating and layered character.  However, If that’s the extent to which the character is explored, you’ll end up with a one dimensional bar fly who isn’t worthy of further exploration, which is a shame considering what you can do with her.  I talked about the lack of traditional families before, but the families that we do see in the show are all perfectly functioning despite being atypical.  What we have here, whether due to her alcoholism or because of unfortunate circumstances, is a somewhat dysfunctional family within Ponyville.  A single mother with a problem she’s trying to control who has decided to live with another woman (either her girlfriend or a good friend looking to help out Berry Punch) who picks up some of the responsibilities that Berry Punch can’t handle.  Like I said, I’d prefer it to be a situation where alcohol isn’t a factor.  I’d rather it be that she ran into some hard times economically and couldn’t afford to take care of Pinchy without a second paycheck.  This gives us three characters with very distinct viewpoints on the situation that are all worthy of exploration.  Berry is feeling incompetent for not being able to provide for her daughter despite her best efforts.  Pinchy has gone through some hard times and, in some ways, had to grow up a little faster than most.  Colgate is stuck in the middle, trying to take care of Pinchy while helping Berry get back on her hooves.  This doesn’t change much if we introduced alcohol into the mix, but it’s just a bit too dark for me to get behind.

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Still, I can’t really argue for the existence of a character that hasn’t been presented to me.  Just because I have a problem with it, doesn’t mean the rest of the community does, which is why it has become her most defining feature.  It can be used effectively, after all we let Homer Simpson get away with it for over two decades, and the fans have shown a wide range of creativity when looking at this character’s love of liquor.

Cheerilee 7

Other than that, there’s not a lot left to discuss.  I’ve seen some stuff out there suggesting she owns a bar which could be an indication that her “special talent” isn’t her love of drinking, but her love of bartending.  There’s not a lot out there to support that theory, but unsurprisingly I prefer that to the her been an alcoholic.

Cheerilee 8

So now that we know a little bit more about these characters, how has the show treated them?  Well, we can skip over Berry Punch considering she’s only appeared as a background pony in a few episodes, so let’s focus on Cheerilee.  Like stated earlier, her role has mostly been a foil for the CMC to bounce off of, and to move along plot points or deliver exposition.  The episode that focuses on her is an episode where she isn’t herself for a good portion of it.  What this says to me is that the creators haven’t felt it necessary to explore her character any further than what we can deduce about her simply by being a teacher.  Chances are she’ll continue to make regular appearances as long as the CMC still get episodes.  As for a possible episode in the future, I see it much less likely than a Zecora episode, simply because there isn’t a lot to learn about her that would be interesting in its own right.  Only going off of how they’ve treated her in the past, I’d say that if she gets another episode, it would have to be one that is equally someone else’s episode as well (either Mane 6 or CMC).  I don’t think there’s enough there to justify an entire episode about her, but that doesn’t mean she can’t work in a much more significant role than the ones she has been given up to this point.  Maybe a Rainbow Dash episode where she needs a tutor (a Wonderbolt needs to have a GED or something).  Despite her newfound love of reading, her utter dismissal of it until she’s practically an adult doesn’t bode well for the rest of her education.  I doubt the show creators will go there exactly, but the idea of Cheerilee tutoring a character would be a great way to give her an important role in a future episode.

I also think that, while Berry Punch doesn’t have enough (kid friendly) characteristics to make her a significant character in the show, her daughter Pinchy could actually be the center of a very interesting CMC episode.  According to Childstats.gov, 28 percent of U.S. children live with a single parent (24 percent with mother, 4 percent with father) so I think it would be pretty significant if the show were to introduce a character that over a fourth of its potential audience can relate to.  Sesame Street has been doing stuff like this for years, most recently by introducing a character whose father is in jail, so why not MLP?

His name is Alex and while he hasn’t appeared in the show proper, he has several segments that can be seen online.

His name is Alex and while he hasn’t appeared in the show proper, he has several segments that can be seen online.

The only problem with that is that the idea, in and of itself, can’t really carry an episode unless they wanted to focus on some of the hardships that such a situation can have.  I feel that such problems might be a bit too “real” for the world of Equestria, and would be pretty out of place.  If you don’t focus on it though, then she’ll just become another background character which kinda defeats the purpose of putting her in the show in the first place.  It’s kind of disappointing that having such a character is unlikely to happen, but still understandable considering the product that they wish to give us.  While MLP wants to be above the other kid’s shows that are out there, it’s not really here to give us important life lessons like Sesame Street has done so well for the past four decades.  We’re here to watch MLP to have a good time, get a few laughs, and we might just learn something along the way.

Overall, it seems unlikely that the show is gonna give these characters a chance to truly shine.  Even if they never get the appreciation they deserve from the show itself, at least the fans will continue to make great content that will give these characters a lot of life.

And a high tolerance for alcohol.

And a high tolerance for alcohol.

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Fan Fiction

The Teacher, the Sorceress, and the Wonderbolt By Wrabbit

I brought this story up before and for good reason.  The story of Trixie, Spitfire, and Cheerilee all going after Twilight’s heart is one of the better fan fics I’ve read, despite the clop that is sparingly strewn throughout.  It has some really amazing moments that make you root for all three of the characters equally, even though all three of them are fighting against each other and hoping for the other two to lose.  Cheerilee ends up being the underdog in this story (i.e. NOT a Wonderbolt and NOT a powerful unicorn) which really does a lot to make her a strong character in her own right by being a simple pony that is able to compete with these two.  Berry Punch also shows up in this, and it’s one of the best representations of her I’ve seen because she doesn’t spend it drunk as a skunk, but she’s still pretty mischievous throughout.  Definitely worth a read if you’re interested in any of these characters.

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Colgate and Berry Punch, Adventures in Ponyville by Democritus of Abdera

The basic premise is that Minuette Romanna (AKA Cogate) has just moved to Ponyville to open a new clock shop after the one she had in Canterlot went under.  Once she gets there, she meets Berry Punch, and starts a friendship with her right away. While told from Colgate’s point of view, it really does give a wonderfully layered version of Berry Punch that allows the drinking to be an issue without overtaking the enitretly of the character.  They are both struggling in their lives at this point, so being able to lean on one another has allowed them to form a special friendship, and probably more.  Unfortunately, the story hasn’t updated since January which means that chances are the story is dead.  For me, there’s nothing worse than a good story that just stops before it’s over (*cough* Night’s Favoured Child *cough*), but if you don’t mind that as much, it’s still an enjoyable slice of life story that has just enough comedy, drama, and romance to make it very memorable.

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Tumblrs

Cheerilee’s Chalkboard by Frist

This is a truly unique tumblr with a fantastic premise.  It’s an ask blog where the questions take the form of students in Cheerilee’s class asking questions for her to answer.  The questions she answers and the details she use always make it an entertaining read, while the artwork gives it a distinct style that is very endearing.  The chalk dust that slowly builds up in her fur as the lesson goes on is a fantastic little detail that reminds me of a few teacher’s I used to know and does a lot to give it a distinct bit of personality.  It’s still pretty new, so you’ll be able to burn through its backlog pretty quickly, but it’s still a very clever tumblr that everyone should be taking a look at.

Cheerilee 11

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Well that was a tricky one!  Took a while for this one to really take shape, but overall I’m happy with it!  Think I’m losing my mind?  Hopefully you can help me find it.  Let me know in the comments below!

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Research sources

http://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/famsoc1.asp

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Image Sources

Martini Glasses by brianblackberry

Cheerilee and Berry Punch kissing from Ask Berry Punch

Cheerilee + Big Macintosh by mysticalpha

Commission: Twirilee by Atlur

Berry Punch passed out from Ask Berry Punch

Berry Punch – commish by Graystripe64

A Glass of Berry Punch by atnezau

Drunkenly Fierce by BambooDog

Wine Under a Tree by Demmon1

Luna and Berry Punch WIP#2 by Senselesssquirrel

Berry Punch’s Choice – Imported Wine by cradet

Berry Punch by UrpleB3atin

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Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/The_SuperDude92

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