Today’s women’s history month profile is on Pepper Ann, a television series primarily from the late 90s. The series was done by Disney’s television studios, and aired on some of their networks.
The series was a part of the Disney’sOne Saturday Morning block on the ABC network, which also featured cartoons such as Recess and The Mighty Ducks. The show was created by animator Sue Rose, who is also known for creating girl-centered shows including the likes of Unfabulous and Angela Anaconda. The show was based on a comic strip that was published in YM Magazine.
The series revolved around the everyday life of 12-year-old Pepper Ann Pearson (Kathleen Wilhoite), who lived with her mother Lydia and younger sister Moose. She attended Hazlenut Middle School with her best friends: Nikki Little (Clea Lewis), an overachiever, and Milo Kamalani (Danny Cooksey), a laid-back artist. The show revolved around typical moral dilemmas of middle school life, like crushes and struggles to be popular. Pepper Ann often had problems involving her father, a pilot who her mother divorced long ago. The show had to adhere to E/I (educational and informative) requirements, meaning the show had to involve characters learning some kind of lesson. She would often communicate with her own reflection.
One of the more controversial episodes of the show involved Pepper Ann confusing gym instructions, and thinking she had to get a bra to participate. The episode involved slightly more mature humor, and was rated TV-Y7 instead of its usual TV-Y. However, other Disney shows like Lizzie McGuire would also tackle this issue, as it’s a fairly common milestone for middle schoolers.
Every episode of the show had an opening gag, where Pepper Ann would find something new under her desk–a glow stick, a mood ring, etc. Episodes usually had a format of two eleven-minute stories put into one half-hour block, though some would deviate from this. Some notable episodes include “You Oughta Be in Musicals,” where an accident causes Pepper Ann to fantasize that everyone is breaking into song, and “A Kosher Christmas,” where she’s torn between her loves of celebrating Christmas with her father and Hanukkah with her mother for a holiday project.
The show was produced by Walt Disney Television Animation, though Pepper Ann wasn’t much of a major Disney property. Her and her mother did however appear in a cameo in the Disney crossover series House of Mouse, which can be seen here.
The show had its original run from September 1997 to November 2000, and had 112 individual episodes total. The series also went on to air on Disney’s side channel Toon Disney.
As a kid I always remembered how I sucked in drawing Pepper Ann, Nicky and Milo, so why not try now? (Fourteen years later, wow….)
After watching a few episodes, it made me revert back to my ten year old self who watched this show like crazy. It’s one of those rare gems that you know it’ll never get a dvd release (or vhs), which saddens me.