From Left to Right: Milo, Lydia, Pepper Ann, Moose, and Nicky
Pepper Ann is a 1990s Disney-created Saturday Morning Cartoon that ran on ABC's One Saturday Morning from 1997-2001. It centers on Pepper Ann, a 12-year-old girl and her other classmates. Her parents are divorced; she lives with her mother and younger sister "Moose." With her two best friends, Nicky and Milo, she goes through a reasonably plausible series of junior high adventures. The series was inspired by short multi-paneled comic strips about Pepper Ann, which appeared intermittently in magazines geared at tween girls.
Tropes present include:
The Ace: Becky is portrayed as one, being ridiculously smart and also very good with sports. however, Becky mentions that Nicky is actually the stronger and more creative one. (Becky mentions that she can't even bench-press 15 pounds!) See Muscles Are Meaningless down below.
Added Alliterative Appeal: Grampa Leo and Grandma Lilly. In an in-universe example, Grandma explains they were originally going to give all their children L names, but she was so hopped-up on epidurals she wrote the L backwards on Laney's birth certificate, making her Janey. They would have changed it, but it would have taken too much paperwork.
Alpha Bitch: Alice and Trinket, though Trinket is more shallow than mean and several episodes reveal that Trinket has feelings.
Ambiguously Jewish: The Pearsons, until the Christmas Episode where Pepper Ann has to write a report on whether celebrating Christmas with her dad or Hanukkah with her mom is better.
Amicably Divorced: Pepper Ann's parents. Unlike most other shows that have divorced parents, Pepper Ann's parents didn't split up because they didn't get along, they split up because Chuck (Pepper Ann's father) works as a blimp driver and his job got in the way of being a full-time father.
Banned Episode: The episode "In Support Of" (where Pepper Ann thinks she needs a bra for an upcoming trampoline lesson in phys ed and ends up flashing her gym class) was shown once back when ABC had the "One Saturday Morning" line-up in the late 1990s and when Pepper Ann aired on the syndicated line-up Disney's One Too (which aired on UPN back when that was a channel and included reruns of this show, two episodes of Recess, and Sabrina The Animated Series). When the show was brought to The Disney Channel and Toon Disney (at least in America; overseas versions do air this — some with edits), it disappeared, as the censors felt the story was too risque.
Catch Phrase: "My life is trash." (said whenever Pepper Ann does something that makes her a social outcast, like admit that she bought pimple cream at Abe's Mall [a.k.a the "Abys Mal," as only freaks and geezers go to a place like that])
"What's for dinner?" could count for Moose. She has said it more than once, and she rarely says anything else.
"Peppie, you're (scaring, hurting, etc.) me" could count for Moose.
Nicky has "absolutamente." Though she doesn't say it quite as constantly as the regular catchphrase it does pop up from time to time.
Continuity Nod: Quite a few. Among them, the Chess club researching on Pepper Ann and finding school newspapers detailing her involvement with the soccer team, the football team, and a "bizarre trampoline incident" (see the Getting Crap Past the Radar entry for more details).
Comic Book Time: The series first aired in 1997 and it consistently took place in 1997, even when it aired in the new millennium.
Female Misogynist: In "The Sisterhood" Grandma Lillian is shown to have very old fashioned views on a woman's role in life. Justified in that she most likely grew up in a time and place where women were seen as little more than mothers and housewives, and was too stuck in her ways to be more progressive.
Fiery Redhead: Pepper Ann, though she's more spacy and neurotic than fiery.
Gainaxing: A little bit on Lydia near the end of "In Support Of" when showing she was also a late bloomer.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: The episode "In Support Of" where Pepper Ann thinks she needs a support bra for an upcoming trampoline lesson in gym class and ends up in trouble for flashing her class after Coach Doogan asks her where her support was (as in "her partner to spot the trampoline jumper").
From the same episode, Pepper Ann comes home from school and hears her mother shout, "Pepper Ann, do you want breasts?" Of course, two seconds later we find out she means "chicken breasts".
A semi-running gag on the show is Ms. Bladdar (the cynical English teacher who looks like Jane Lane if her art career flopped and she ended up a Jaded Washout with a teaching job) being the substitute teacher for an unseen teacher named Ms. Ford, who is implied to have a drinking problem (the episode "The Environ-Mentals" stated that Ms. Ford "...had too much "punch" at last night's PTA meeting" and the "Quiz Bowl" episode had Principal Hickey state that Ms. Ford is on sabbactical at the "I Can Shine" Clinic)
In the episode "You Oughta Be in Musicals!," a police officer is seen releasing a woman in tacky clothes. While it can be argued that she might just be some overdressed fashion victim who committed a petty crime, the officer's line, "Go free, you little vixen," clearly implies that she could be a hooker.
On the episode where Pepper Ann tries to get her dad to appear on a game show with her, Pepper Ann reads some of her dad's old love letters to her mom...all of which have the risque parts removed (including one letter in which everything is cut except for "Dear Lydia"). When Pepper Ann asks her mom why the love letters are edited, Lydia can be heard running out of the house and driving away.
In the Romeo and Juliet episode, all of the girls are auditioning to be Juliet opposite Craig's Romeo. Then they show Dieter auditioning for Juliet. To top it off they have him use the line "What satisfaction canst thou have, tonight?"
From "Family Vacation": "I am forced to ride 3000 miles next to an opera loving ACCIDENT!" Out of context, that sounds very weird.
In "One of the Guys" when Pepper Ann wants to enter a beauty pageant and her mother takes her measurements:
Lydia: 21... 21... 21... Peppie, if we're gonna win this thing, we are gonna need more than just a great dress.
The cynical substitute teacher Ms. Bladdar is voiced by Bebe Neuwirth (who played Fraiser Crane's ex-wife on Cheers and Fraiser).
Milo Kamalani is voiced by Danny Cooksey, best remembered for playing Bobby Budnick on Salute Your Shorts and voicing Montana Max on Tiny Toon Adventures. Unlike Bobby Budnick and Montana Max, Milo is actually a nice character (he does get angry and yell from time to time, but he's not a scheming Jerk Ass or a rich brat who doesn't care about anyone but himself).
Coach Doogan is voiced by the same actress who played Peggy Hill on King of the Hillnote Kathy Najimy, which is funny, as both Coach Doogan and Peggy Hill are teachers (Coach Doogan is the girls' gym teacher while Peggy was a substitute Spanish teacher until she quit and become a local newspaper writer, and, later, a real estate agent).
Chuck Pearson (Pepper Ann's father) is voiced by Maurice LaMarche and apparently the one thing he and Don Adams have in common is that LaMarche was often cast as Don Adams' substitute on episodes of Inspector Gadget.
Moose is Spinelli...and Bobby Hill...and Otto Osworth...and a lot of other prepubescent boys (Adlon rarely, if ever, plays girls. If she does play girls, they're tomboys, like Moose and Spinelli).
Nicky's on/off boyfriend Stuart is Cam Clarke, who voices Liquid Snake, provides the singing voice of Simba, and has done voice work in a lot of other 1990s cartoons.
There was the episode "Myself, My Mother," which is an homage to Freaky Friday.
Hypocritical Humor: Pepper Ann's mother in "The Sisterhood" forces Pepper Ann to go to a Woman's bonding weekend seminar, talking about how her mother forced her to do all sorts of things she didn't want to and learned all sorts of skills that had no place in the real world (all the while making her do stuff like chainsaw ice statues and participate in a mock women's rights protest)
Imagine Spot: Loads. In fact, due to Pepper Ann not giving us a signal about having one like Doug, you can't tell if the surreal things that she witnesses are in fact either in her head or real like the talking squirrel and bird in the first episode.
Jewish Mother: Subverted with Lydia (who is Jewish — or at least, celebrates Jewish holidays to keep with tradition, but doesn't act like a stereotypical Jewish mom). Lydia's mom (Pepper Ann's grandmother), however, is a straight example.
Keep Circulating the Tapes: There are no video or DVD releases of the show. There are some episodes available on YouTube (catch 'em if you can) and a few are accessible via torrents.
Kids Shouldn't Watch Horror Films: Pepper Ann gets invited to a slumber party where they will be watching the R-rated film Gutter Clowns, which Lydia warns Pepper Ann against seeing. At first Pepper Ann tries to stop the girls at the party from watching the film but ends up watching it anyway and is terrified for the next few days.
Kissing Warm Up: Pepper Ann gets ready for Dieter's unsupervised party by warming up on her hand, a watermelon, and a pillow.
Late for School: If the opening is any indication (and the fact that her science teacher has pre-printed detention slips made exclusively for Pepper Ann's tardiness), Pepper Ann is late every day.
Last Disrespects: In one episode, P.A. is asked to give the eulogy at the funeral of a cranky neighbor no one liked. She's having a difficult time finding anything nice to say about her, but also realizes she can't just lie about her.
Marshmallow Hell: In "In Support Of" Pepper Ann winds up in it for a second when she says she wants a bra and her mom hugs her.
In the Romeo & Juliet episode, Pepper Ann, Nicky, and Milo wind up in Ms. Stark's.
Mixed Ancestry: Pepper Ann is Jewish on her mom's side of the family and Spanish, British, and Navajo Indian on her dad's side (though Pepper Ann's dad sounds like he has an Australian accent).
Muscles Are Meaningless: Nicky Little is just as skinny as her two friends, but ridiculously strong. A childhood flashback shows that she was the local bully, overpowering a much larger kid who would normally be considered the bully.
Musical Episode: Parodied, with everything suddenly turning into a musical with Pepper Ann being the only one who notices everyone is bursting into song and dance spontaneously.
Truth in Television. Pepper Ann's hair is dark enough that if she wanted to do blue, she'd need to bleach it and if she didn't tone it, she'd probably have yellow tones. Yellow + blue (especially lighter blues) = green.
It comes to the point where Crash wears a shirt that says "My Name is Crash," which doesn't help anyone remember his name.
Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Invoked and discussed in "Spice of Life" (the episode where a mean old lady whom Pepper Ann hates dies, and Pepper Ann finds out that the mean old lady was the school secretary's mother).
Nightmare Fuel: An in-universe example that's Played for Laughs. Nicky and Becky are both terrified of swans, and none of them remembers why. At the end of the episode, their mom throws a box of their old toys out...and inside is a swan that, when active, has glowing red eyes and says, "Swan wants to PLAAAAAAAYYYYY" in a very intentionally scary voice.
Noodle People: Every character. Even the overweight characters have skinny arms.
Noodle Implements: The one prank Pepper and Milo attempted to pull which got them, and Nicki (who was trying to stop them), sent to boot camp. We don't know what they were planning, but it involved the gym, basketballs, and somehow, they managed to convince Alex Trebek to help them out.
Only Sane Man: When she is not having her random outbursts, Nicky is close to being the only Normal person in Hazelenut.
Maybe Moose as well.
Opening Shout-Out: In "Like Riding a Bike" which starts with Pepper Ann finding maracas under her desk and Dieter taking them back. Then in the next scene, Pepper Ann is explaining her conspiracy theory that Mr. Carter is somehow responsible for her being late for school every day, listing a number of things that make her late in the opening.
Parental Bonus: In the first episode Pepper Ann goes into Abe's Mall (which features a big statue of Abe Lincoln out front) to buy some pimple cream. The names of various shops in the mall float behind her, including "John Wilkes Photo Booth," "Getty's Burgers," "Four Score and Seven Year Pets," and "Civil Wear."
Samus Is a Girl: Most of the family (and some viewers) thought Moose was a boy until the Thanksgiving episode.
School Uniforms are the New Black: In the school uniform episode, Pepper Ann managed to get the school uniforms banned from campus after some students complained about them. Despite this, the same students used these uniforms to look cool when outside of school.
Science Fair: An area of contention between Pepper Ann and Alice.
Shoulder Angels: Sort of. Pepper Ann often deals with situations by talking/arguing to her reflection, which can on any given day be her conscience and chide her for doing something wrong, be her anti-conscience and encourage her to not think about consequences, reassure her about something, express her doubts, or simply be her common sense, which loops back to being her conscience.
Shout Out: In "Career Daze", Nicky is put on wrapping meat on a conveyor belt - and it looks very much like the famous I Love Lucy scene with Lucy and Ethel trying to make chocolates at a factory.
Sibling Rivalry: Between Nicky and Becky. Nicky is jealous that Becky has all sorts of athletic trophies and good-name stuff under her belt and her parents clearly favoured her whenever she was around. However, when she finally confronts Becky about this, Becky admits that Nicky is far more creative (Being more musically inclined) and is far stronger than she is. Fridge Brilliance when you consider that even if Becky has athletic trophies; they're all for more agility-based sports.
Slice of Life: Was made when this genre was starting to get popular.
Spin the Bottle: Happens at Dieter's unsupervised birthday party, to Pepper Ann's chagrin. As it happens, Nicky is the only person to get spun (and subsequently smooched) before everyone decides that the game is boring and they decide to play video games.
Stop Helping Me!: Pepper Ann is chronically bad at helping people and giving advice. Lampshaded in "The Amazing Becky Little."
Milo: "How to put this... hmm... often-times when to attempt to help people they end up worse off than before you-"
Pepper Ann: "Don't you think I know that?"
Straw Fan: Averted. When Moose learns they're making a cartoon of her favorite comic book character, Tundra Woman, she's disgusted that they turned her from an Action Girl into a vapid Alpha Bitch obsessed with shopping who is now dating her archenemy. Moose starts a protest campaign and gathers together fans of all ages, including Mr. Hickey, who, rather then being stereotypes of the Basement Dweller type, are all relatively normal men and women whose lives were changed and inspired by Tundra Woman's original influence. Unfortunately, when the producers decide to change the cartoon, they still don't stick to the source material and turn Tundra Woman into grunting cavewoman who graphically slaughters baby seals onscreen. Eventually, the show is just replaced with a cartoon about a skateboarding robot.
Took a Level in Dumbass: Pepper Ann once had a nightmare where everyone turned stupid while suffering feelings of inadequacy.
Tough Act to Follow: In-universe, Pepper Ann received acclaim after writing a magazine article about the time she sneaked out to a party without her mother's permission, but ended up feeling alone and scared at the party (and guilty for deceiving her mom). Pepper Ann followed this up with a tribute to her mother, after learning she went through the same thing when she was younger, but this received hate from students who believe True Art Is Angsty.
Written-In Absence: Milo was once absent for nearly an entire episode until he appeared at the end. He was at the local pizza place for three days waiting for Pepper Ann and Nicky who apparently forgot they were supposed to meet him. He spent three days just eating sauce before showing up at school again.
You Have to Believe Me: In "Snot Your Mother's Music" Mick Snot stays with the Pearsons and every time Pepper Ann tries to show Nicky and Milo that Mick is staying with them they don't believe her, because he instantly switches between his stage outfit and his lame old man look depending who's looking.