Today’s character is Pepper Ann, star of her eponymous TV show that aired on Disney/ABC from 1997 to 2001.
Pepper Ann is a 12 year-old who has a bit of a runaway imagination. Akin to a bit of a dreamer, she imagines scenarios developing in seemingly bizarre and fantastical ways. Despite this, the series is very much grounded in reality, with Pepper’s friends Milo and Nicky acting as her rock throughout the series.
Strong characters were the hallmark of a series that was the first to bring in some of the more complex aspects of life into Disney entertainment. Case in point is Pepper’s absent father, whom she hopes will someday come home, but with the realities of divorce, that is unlikely to happen. This article from the New York Times in 1997 provides a good overview of the series.
Such an unfortunate situation could have easily been pawned off by the creators but instead it is made a main tenant of the show and gives kids watching a sense that characters can also have complex lives.
Pepper Ann is generally very easy going, but displays a steely determination to solve problems and dilemmas. In that regard she consults her conscience, who often appears out of nowhere and whose advice is mostly (?) correct.
As a show, Pepper Ann remains somewhat unique in the realm of animated TV. The show features a lead female protagonist but at the same time is surprisingly gender-neutral. Even though Pepper Ann is a girl, we rarely see her engage in all the stereotypes of one, or act as a tween for that matter. While this is certainly welcome, it is also unfortunately surprising, especially in this day and age, when 12 year olds are practically treated as adults.
Although a bit dated by the use of late-90s slang, and most definitely an American show from that period, Pepper Ann remains a great show with a fantastic lead.
Fun fact: A certain Mr. Warburton worked on the show, and random stuff has been known to pop up over on his blog.