Funny you say that, when I got into pokemon it was pretty much just "the norm" or at least I think... but I see where you're coming from. In fact, my mom didn't laugh when I talked a bit about it yesterday so I think the advice is working, thanks everyone!
I think the best comparison for how MLP:FiM is family entertainment is the fact that Disney movies are family entertainment. Disney movies are usually viewed as being movies for kids, but teens and adults also watch and enjoy them too. Both are aimed at the whole family, but some people still try to say they're for kids.
Though I must say; whenever a show is created with children in mind, (especially girls) it's usually deemed as terrible...unless it somehow becomes "good", then suddenly it becomes an "everyone can watch it!" type of show. Funny how that works.
There's also the problem that, when a show really and truly is aimed only at children, the creators tend to hold themselves back a lot. Instead of thinking "What would be a good story?" "What would be a funny joke?" and "What would be entertaining?" they think, "What would kids
think is a good story?" "What would kids
think is a funny joke?" and "What would kids
think is entertaining?"
Oddly enough, way too many adults in the entertainment business who try to make something specifically for little kids severely underestimate children.
They think kids aren't very smart, have a really simple and dumb sense of humor, and have a very short attention span that won't let them follow a normal story.
As for the jokes, kids laugh at the jokes because they think
that's the kind of thing they're supposed
to laugh at because the show looks at them and says "Listen to the characters laugh/the laugh box, that was totally funny!" Kids are still developing their sense of humor. That's why they turn to you and say "That's so funny, right?!" after laughing at the show. But they start figuring out their sense of humor after a while, and they can and will reach a point where they can figure out what's funny for themselves. We all reach a point where we can tell that the drivel that true little kids' shows think are jokes just aren't funny.
That's one great thing about MLP:FiM. It doesn't laugh at its own jokes. It doesn't play a laugh box, and it doesn't have the characters laugh at every single joke that's ever made in every single episode. They tell the joke and move on, and if you think it's funny, you think it's funny. Simple as that. It doesn't reach out of the TV and tell the kid "I told a joke! Laugh! This is humor!" It also doesn't oversimplify most of the stories it tells. It just tells a story. It doesn't hold the kid's hand through the whole story, trying to over-explain so the kid doesn't get lost or confused.
Walt Disney was completely right when he said "You're dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway."
Like I said above, there are people out there who look at family entertainment, including Disney movies, and still insist on saying it's for kids, even if they think it's good or enjoy it.