I'm judging it on the entirety of things I've seen in my lifetime. Don't get me wrong, Ponies are not the only thing I watch, by any means. It's a small portion of my entertainment life, but among the newest, so it has the highest novelty value.
Alright, well, let me ask you a question:
are you judging MLP based on the standard of kids shows, or based on the standard of the full gamut of entertainment you've seen in your lifetime?
It's not that the characters are mulling over their identities, it's that their character flaws are presented in the episodes, and are dealt with by themselves and their friends. For instance, a deal of the shows are just misunderstandings, or other small things that turn into more horrible things (Spike changes from a little guy into a giant dragon and destroys Ponyville).
I can see MLP being an excellent "kids show", but I feel like it's highly overstated versus many other things I've seen. Especially since so many adult (men) are enjoying it, I feel like they're grasping for straws when they say the "character development is excellent" and such. So the ponies do something cool and get a little sticker on their flank. That's great for kids, but versus the many anime I've watched where characters will spend dozens of episodes mulling over their personal identity and exploring themselves, I wouldn't bill it as "excellent". But maybe that's why my opinion differs vastly from Bronies'? Or maybe it's the novelty of a kids' show doing occasional "non-kid" stuff that gets people riled up?
No, I don't really think it's even a comparative thing. I believe that we just enjoy the show; that's the end of it. It also could be the innocent nature of the show. If you can recall, I've actually been banned on the forums a few times for outright display of extremely negative speech (sexual desires dependent on the non-consent and/or extreme youth of the other participating party). It can draw a person who behaves terribly, but was raised in a highly acceptable surrounding with outstandingly "good" parents, or outstanding "good" influences at the least.
Are Bronies being especially lenient when they judge MLP (ie. comparing it solely to other kids' shows instead of comparing it to relatively more serious media)? In that case I can sort of understand where this fandom comes from. But that still wouldn't explain why it's such a statement to be a Brony. As I asked before, how come Adventure Time (which is also excellent and has adult-themed humor) doesn't have an "ism" behind it? It seems like Bronies take pride in the aberrant nature of their fandom.