As far as the "One Saturday Morning" cartoons went, there are obviously a few stand outs. Recess was always a classic, Doug was pretty much beloved by all, but for those of us who wanted our main character to be someone a little more like us, Pepper Ann was our show.
Pepper Ann was definitely much too cool for 7th grade, and we all learned a lot from her show. She was a pretty realistic character, who went through realistic things that a lot of pre-teen girls go through.
I mean, there was an entire episode about Pepper Ann buying her first training bra. Who doesn't remember the trauma of that day in their own lives?
Well, the creator of the show, Sue Rose, still has a lot to say about her creation. It all started as a comic in Young Miss magazine, but she ended up becoming the first woman to create their own animated show on the entire Disney network.
How it started
The comics were first drawn by Rose for magazines, but her character was so relatable that she was given her own show.
She dealt with real-life issues, things that we all have gone through in our own lives. And because she was so relatable she was able to be successful. Rose believes the reason it was successful was because it she wanted to make it feel real.
“I didn't set out to create a TV show,” Rose tells me over the phone. “I set out to create a story about a girl. And a funny girl who makes mistakes and then has an opportunity to learn from them.”
Pepper Ann's inspiration
Rose used her own life experience to make her creation.
"I wasn’t [thinking], what kind of characters are needed on TV? Or, is this going to be tough because it’s different? It wasn’t anything that entered into my mind other than this is the story I would like to tell.
“Pepper Ann was based on me as a nerdy 12-year-old, but really, Pepper Ann’s sort of larger-than-life imagination."
The show was very forward thinking
While a lot of cartoons we watched were focusing on being a princess and finding prince charming, Pepper Ann was teaching us something different. She's impacted a lot of people even though she was just a 12-year-old girl.
“While every show was emphasizing the importance of love 'vis a vis' obsession, Pepper Ann was about three weird characters trying to maintain healthy relationships with the world.” - Alex Firer, writer
Pepper Ann taught us that we could make ourselves a priority.
“I don’t think Pepper Ann would ever take a backseat or feel inferior to anybody.” - Nahnatchka Khan, executive producer and writer
Rose loves the way people remember her show
Rose obviously saw all the other shows and movies available to us and by giving us this alternative type of woman, we all realized how cool it really was.
“[Pepper Ann was] trying to be appreciated for herself and her own ideals. She certainly had her crushes and things like that. But it was more than just focusing on boys and makeup and hair."
Pepper Ann wasn't the only character in the show who stood up for herself. Her younger sister Moose was truly one of a kind.
“The thing about Moose was not so much her ambiguous gender but the fact that she was way more confident in herself: what she looked like, how she talked, whatever she did. She was a little sister that didn’t idolize her older sister."
They even gave Moose an entire story line where she protests her favorite superhero because the network tried to make her act like a stereotypical woman obsessing over boys and shopping.
But Moose stood up for herself saying, "Tundra Woman isn’t my hero because she’s a woman. She’s my hero because she’s courageous and selfless—that’s all anyone needs to be a hero. It doesn’t matter if they’re a man or a woman.”
They tackled controversial topics
Unlike other shows that were dealing with more fantastical issues, Pepper Ann jumped in head first into things a lot of other shows would be too afraid to tackle.
Rose specifically references the episode "Dances With Ignorance" where Pepper Ann finds out she is 1/16th Native American and ends up taking it way too far. But when she meets her actual Navajo family they are really offended by what she's doing.
“It pushed the writing and it pushed her character so far,” Rose says. “But she had a chance to redeem herself and I love that so much. The best way to learn about any people is to drop your preconceived notions and approach them with an open mind and heart.”
Rose had one hope when it came to Pepper Ann
Overall, Rose created Pepper Ann with one thought in mind.
“My biggest hope was that girls would respond to it favorably and let themselves be a little less self-conscious or less hard on themselves.”
Personally I think she nailed it! Pepper Ann was my favorite show when I was growing up specifically because there were no other characters like her! Who else agrees that she was the best?
One Saturday Morning was essential viewing when we were kids. Which of these classic shows were your favorite?
Source - Broadly Vice