Ginger the Juvey
As Told By Ginger has long been one of my favorite cartoon series. It’s a shame the series never got a DVD release. I’d even settle for offical downloadable episodes to buy, and watch on my computer, and burn to a DVD for back-up purposes. Can it really be that expensive to put together ISOs that can be downloaded, burned to a DVD, and watched on a DVD player? Of course, someone would just buy one copy and a thousand people would just BitTorrent download it from that person. Sigh. At least some people would be legally buying, though.
Since there is no DVD release, I did go the BitTorrent route. It seems there is a collection with most episodes, although a small percent of them are the German dub with English subtitles added. Better than nothing! If the series ever sees a DVD release, however, I’m going to buy that right up. I especially would like to see a DVD release as most of the final season (to my understanding) was never aired in the USA.
Rather than commenting on the pilot episode, I’m going right to the first episode of the series.
The first episode sets up the characters first thing. There’s a huge contrast between Ginger and her friends, all three “nobodies”, planning a get together, and the “popular” girls who don’t understand the life of the common students.
Courtney Gripling is set up as a stereotypical rich girl. She lives in a big house, she’s popular, and she has a trouble younger brother who has access to probably expensive technology. Her best friend Miranda certainly knows the ins-and-outs of being popular, and is instantly against Courtney’s decision to invite Ginger to Courtney’s suprise party.
Courtney isn’t the only one with a little brother. Ginger has her own troublesome little brother. Carl Foutley and his friend are well explained by simply watching them try out used dentures.
While Courtney and Ginger may be on opposite sides of the popularity line, Courtney’s kid brother, Blake, is too young to be separated as such. He and Carl appear to have some sort of understanding between one another, although one comes from an upper-class home and the other from a middle-class home. Blake still has a lot to learn about life outside of a mansion, and Carl’s just the one to teach him—even though Blake probably doesn’t intended to be learning how to survive until after Carl’s one-upped him.
Ginger Foutley’s best friends include Macie, the stereotypical girl in glasses with a breathing problem, fear of unsanitary things, and perhaps easily frightened. (She’s like Chuckie in RugRats in this way.)
Ginger’s other friend is Dodie, the older sister of Carl’s best friend, nicknamed Hoodsey. While Miranda is Courtney’s “in-the-know”, Dodie is Ginger’s.
One of the things I like best about this series is the social class interactions among the students. It might not be true-to-life on various levels, but it makes for good watching. An example of this is the hall monitor, insistant on specifically following hall rules, but ready to bend them for the popular Courtney Gripling.
Many series like to insert a ditsy older sibling with a smart-alec younger sibling. While Carl and Blake have their own intelligence, As Told By Ginger gives these characters their own situations, showing them in their own habitats, making their own decisions, and doing their own things. Seen in this episode, for example, is the failed blackmail attempt by Blake, leading to Carl trading the information to Ginger for use of her curling iron in exchange, to Carl giving hair curl styles to classmates (probably for a decent price). Carl didn’t need to be smarter than Ginger to get screentime. He needed only be his own person, interact with his sister by being himself, and then move back into his own world, apart from Ginger’s.
Another friend of Ginger’s is Darren Patterson, a fellow nobody. He wears a whole-head brace for his teeth, and is bullied by the more popular students (such as a football jock in this episode).
When Miranda tells Ginger to take the bank’s “Enter” sign, and Ginger says that’s stealing, I Macie’s response is a classic one: “I prefer to think of it as borrowing without asking, and no intention to return.” It reminds me of my Japanese sensei, when something couldn’t be found, she said maybe someone “borrowed it forever”.
On one end of the spectrum, you have Ginger’s mother leaving for work in an old car. On the other end, you have Blake, almost eight years old, being dropped off by his chauffeur. I can’t explain it, but I simply love the contrast of the two societies.
What I find interesting about the social statuses of the characters is that Miranda’s father is a policeman. While Courtney was probably dropped into a high social position, Miranda may have had to work at it to attain her present status.
Another aspect I enjoyed about this series is how events from one episode affect events in later episodes. After being doublecrossed (Blake citing “tomfoolery”, as any young, rich boy with his upbringing surely would), Blake takes Carl’s petrified eyeball. In most cartoons, this is the last we’d hear about the eyeball. Not so with As Told By Ginger, if I remember right. It will make its return in episodes to come.
I must admit, it was a nice coincidence for the police car to pass by Courtney’s house during the party. By the end of the episode, is Ginger on her way to popularity? In the pilot, Miranda referred to Ginger as a pet project of Courtney’s, if I recall correctly.
In this one episode, all the main characters not only have been introduced, but stereotypes are well used to establish the basics of what type of character each one is. This leaves 59 episodes to explore the characters and to see how they handle whatever life may throw at them.