There were Seal girls and copper colored ponies on the other side: Remembering “As Told By Ginger”

There comes a cartoon that defines every young female generation. The 50’s and 60’s had “Little Lulu”, the 70’s with “Josie and the Pussycats”, the 80’s with “Jem” and “She Ra”, the 90’s with “Daria” and “The Powerpuff Girls”. Well in the early part of the 2000’s, when the decade was just beginning and people were learning that Y2K wasn’t as big as a threat as anyone thought. There was an honest, witty, ambivalently insecure and brassy young redheaded middle school youth armed with chemist facts and a notebook worthy of Virginia Woolf and Carole King: her name was Ginger Foutley, the protagonist of the popular and defining hit of the younger set of Generation Y on Nickelodeon.
Ginger was a girl just like you and me in the brief and oh-so torturous tween years. She wanted to be true to herself and her friends, yet aches to be seen as cool by one of the popular kids; but that didn’t mean she was a pushover for anybody or no one. What happened in this show, was a load of feminist triumphs and hopes for a young woman reaching her prime, especially with the help of her supportive and geeky best friends and her mom, who was a hybrid between Maude Findlay and Roseanne. The show has been canceled for a few years due to network meddling, yet Ginger keeps marching to the beat of her heart…from watching Rachel Maddow, boycotting Ambercrombie & Fitch, deconstructing Seventeen, reading the F Bomb, and even getting enough gumption to even start writing my own post. Ginger Foutley has made girl culture come a long way. Here is a list of her outrageous acts and everyday rebellions:

1. “Sleep on It”
In the show’s 4th episode Ginger is invited to popular Courtney Gripling’s sleepover party. When a cruel prank was attempted to be played on her by Courtney’s vicious girlfriends, her brother’s friend Hoodsey takes the fall and when he is humiliated, Ginger stands up to Courtney and puts her in a uncompromising position.
2. “Hello Stranger”
Ginger is musing over her absentee father and has to face reading her poem in front of a crowd without her mom and brother, she reads a poem about her feelings about being the daughter of a unreliable man:
“Hello, stranger – you came just in time
I look for your face in a crowd, or in line
Hello, stranger – not a moment too soon
See, that old picture’s fading in the drawer of my room
Now toys have gone lost, baby teeth have come loose
There were accidents involving stitches, spilt juice
Report cards were shown, and one time I got sick
But it’s nothing I couldn’t catch you up on real quick
Hello, stranger – I saved you a place
And it hardly seems strange now that I’ve seen your face.”
She receives a bouquet of flowers from what she previously believes is her father, but later realizes that her mom was there for her all along.
3. “Deja, Who?”
Following an shellfish allergy attack, Courtney asks Ginger to take her place when a senator’s son visits Lucky Jr. High, Ginger ends up living as Courtney, from wearing her clothes and hair dos to acting like her to even taking her name in roll call and trash talking about Ginger’s scrunchy. Dodie and Macie confront Ginger about her Diva behavior and Ginger ends up talking back to the senator’s arrogant son when he insults her friends.
Quote: “I may be Courtney Gripling, but I am not a snob!”
4. “Gym Class Confidential”
Macie is nervous when the 8th grade girls are going to be shown a sex ed film, and Ginger wants her to just buck up and watch it so they won’t drift apart. When the film is shown, there is a clueless male narrator talking about the “beauty of womanhood” and the “joy” of childbirth, resulting in a retching Courtney and a Macie running out and realizing that she indeed did face most of this film. Meanwhile, Hoodsey is dealing with the expectation that he would have to dress in front of classmates for gym and take showers, torn between Carl’s free wheeling attitude and his mom’s anti sex views (her husband refuses to dress in front of her even after 20 years of marriage).
5. “Fast Reputation
About the troubles of the Virgin/Whore complex. Ginger is tired of being seen as a “nice girl” and crashes a high school party where a older boy later makes claims that she and him made out, thus giving her a “bad girl” rep.
6. “Driven to Extremes
Ginger stands up a mean sub after a failed attempt at TPing the house. She gives the woman a lecture about how respect from your students must be earned not by fear which is worth a stint in detention.
7. “And She Was Gone”
Ginger writes a poem about a lost young woman who ventures off to the unknown and is gone. The student body and faculty panics and thinks she’s clinically depressed. Ginger learns that her poem actually expressed a lot of repressed feelings of her and the student body:
“She chose to walk alone, though others wondered why
Refused to look before her, kept eyes cast upwards towards the sky
She didn’t have companions; no need for earthly things
Only wanted freedom from what she felt were puppet strings
She longed to be a bird, that she might fly away
She pitied every blade of grass, for planted they would stay
She longed to be a flame that brightly danced alone
Felt jealous of the steam that made the air its only home
Some say she wished too hard; some say she wished too long
But we awoke one autumn day to find that she was gone
The trees, they say, stood witness; the sky refused to tell
But someone who had seen it said the story played out well
She spread her arms out wide, breathed in the break of dawn
She just let go of all she held…and then she was gone.”
8. “The ‘A’ Ticket
Ginger, the science teacher’s (the late Lewis Arquette) class pet is partnered with her crush, Ian Richton. He seems to be very intrested in her and schmoozes her to do most of the work, but her friend Darren finds out that Ian is using her so he can stay on the school soccer team. She decides to throw down the angora gloves, so to speak, and forces him to do the work and confronts him for being an ass.
I’m going to get on a high horse here and state that I’m sad for the tweens of today, the only saving grace out there I see is “The Mighty B!”, reruns of “Daria” on TeenNick, “The Amazing Spiez!”, “Totally Spies!”, “Total Drama Island” and it’s many spinoffs. Isn’t Ginger the greatest???

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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