The show stars a 12-year-old girl named Ginger Foutley (voiced by Melissa Disney) and her best friends Macie Lightfoot (voiced by Jackie Harris), Dodie Bishop (voiced by Aspen Miller), and Darren Patterson (voiced by Kenny Blank) going through everyday teenage problems at their middle school Lucky Junior High. Ginger is sort of like the leader of the group. She's really into writing stories and poems, science, writing on her journal, ponies, and singing songs.
Dodie is a hyperactive girl who loves gossip and desperately has the urge to be popular. Her big mouth has caused trouble for her friends at times, which makes Dodie a somewhat subtle antagonist. More on that later. She has a crazy overprotective mom and a dad who's basically a loving guy, but mostly sits on the couch and watches game shows and The Weather Channel. Out of the three girls, she's the least developed.
As for Macie, she's your typical nerdy girl with panic attacks, allergies, and fearing of change. You might think that she's very cliche and nothing more than a throwaway character, but surprisingly she's not. She has a childish personality struggling to go through the changes of teenhood. This is mostly due to the fact that her parents are almost never around since they're both child psychologists and really busy.
It's really fleshed out in the episode "Family Therapy" in which not only they forget her birthday, but then they start treating her like a 5-year-old buying her a swing set, taking her to a Chuckie Cheese-like setting, mother-daughter dresses, and a petting zoo-themed birthday party due to guilt. Believe it or not, Macie actually loves being treating like a 5-year-old since she's getting the attention of her parents that she never had. It wasn't until Ginger stepped forward and reminds her that she's 13, not 5. It's a very surprisingly sad scenario that fleshes out Macie wonderfully.
As for Darren, he's a very nice guy with a giant metal head gear for his orthodontia. Due to his head gear, he is teased constantly by the popular kids. He's also having struggles at home due to his father and his older brother. His older brother Will is a high school student who is popular, has many friends, and is on the football team. His father was the exact same way when he was younger and they tease Darren for being too nice, soft, unpopular, and nonathletic. He's Ginger's next door neighbor and they had been best friends forever.
Ginger, Dodie, and Macie hang out with each other all the time and dream about fitting in to the popular kids., especially Dodie. The popular kids consisted of rich girl Courtney Gripling (voiced by Liz Georges), Miranda Kilgallen (voiced by Cree Summer), Melissa "Mipsy" Mipson (voiced by Sandy Fox), and Ian Richton (voiced by Adam Wylie). Courtney is your stereotypical blonde haired, dunce rich girl similar to Beebe Bluff from Doug and Rhonda Lloyd from Hey Arnold, but she has some characteristics that are a tad bit different. First of all, she's very fascinated about middle class life and the differences between that and the wealthy life as oppose to Beebe and Rhonda hating it. In one episode when going into Ginger's room, she finds a vacuum cleaner in her closet and she confuses it for a robot. She finds Ginger very interesting so she decides to form a friendship with her.
As for Miranda, she's a very bitter, mean, and envious girl. She's Courtney's best friend and sidekick. She's very jealous of Ginger because she feels that she will take Courtney's place as best friend. So whenever she can, she tries her best to ruin her life. In the first episode, Miranda fools Ginger into stealing a sign from the bank, calls her father who is a police officer, and ends up getting Ginger, Dodie, Macie, and Darren arrested for theft. That's right, arrested! Princess Azula, eat your heart out! Miranda is truly one of the best portrayed bullies in Nicktoon history and very underrated. She's surely someone you don't want to mess with.
Alongside the teenagers, we also get a glimpse of elementary school life consisting with the characters Carl Foutley, Robert "Hoodsey" Bishop, and Blake Gripling. Carl Foutley, Ginger's brother, Carl Foutley (voiced by Jeannie Elias) is a 9-year-old boy who is portrayed as a gross, disgusting boy who loves hanging out at a doghouse doing experiments and getting to crazy situations. While he is portrayed as gross, there's more to his character than that. He's a very intelligent, unique, different, has a very good heart, and is a stand out compared to all the other boys. When it comes to being around his mother and sister, they see him as a very odd, disturbing little boy who's constantly criticized and even to a point in which they act like they don't like him. However, deep down, they love him. Regardless, he doesn't care about what people think of him and is happy and content of who he is.
Robert "Hoodsey" Bishop (voiced by Tress MacNeille) is Carl's best friend and Dodie's brother. He's a very gullible and loyal kid who follows Carl throughout his many experiments and mishaps. He is called "Hoodsey" due to the fact that he always wears a purple hoodie. Not much to say about him, so moving on.
Blake Gripling (voiced by Kath Soucie) is Courtney's brother and Carl's rival. He's a very sophisticated kid who tries to get involve with Carl's schemes and experiments, but with no luck.
Now we get to the adults: while there were a fair number of adults portrayed in As Told by Ginger such as the teachers and the parents, there are only two that stand out to me. First is Carl's elementary school teacher Mrs. Gordon (voiced by Kathleen Freeman). She's an old, feisty woman who is a bit burned out due to the mishaps of Carl and Hoodsey. However, she doesn't take any of their crap as she scolds them and gives them their rightful punishment of detention and losing privileges. She's a far more interesting character compared to Ginger's English teacher Ms. Zorski. While Ms. Zorski is a very nice teacher, she's a bit forgettable.
The second adult that is a huge standout for me is Lois Foutley, Ginger and Carl's mother. She's a single mother raising her children alone after divorcing her husband Jonas. She's a nurse who works on late night shifts. She's a very strict mother who disciplines her children whenever they disobey her or if they do something stupid and reckless. She doesn't take any crap that Carl does on a daily basis and she's very strict with Ginger about not doing things until she's older. For example, in the episode "Kiss and Makeup", Ginger wants to wear makeup for her school picture, but Lois forbids it. So Ginger decides to make her own makeup that she found in a teen magazine calling it "fakeup". When Lois finds out about it in the pictures, Ginger gets grounded with no hesitation. However, she's also very kind, nurturing, and gives wonderful advice to Ginger whenever she goes through a problem. I have to say that out of all the parents/guardians I've encountered over the Nickelodeon shows, Lois Foutley is my absolute favorite. Despite being a single parent, it goes to show you that she is more than capable of raising a family while struggling on a job to provide for them. Unlike the father from Journey from Allen Strange in which while he is divorced from his wife, he's portrayed as clueless and goofy around his kids. That's pretty much like the majority of the other adults portrayed in the upcoming Nickelodeon programs in the tribute, but we'll get to that another time.
Not to mention, she's voiced by former SNL cast member Laraine Newman. You can't go wrong with that!
The show was produced by Klasky-Csupo, the same company that created and animated previous Nicktoons such as Rugrats, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Rocket Power, and The Wild Thornberrys. An interesting thing to note that As Told by Ginger was the only Nicktoon that was NOT created by either Arlene Klasky or Gabor Csupo. It was created by Emily Kapnek, who would later go on to be an executive producer of the show Emily's Reasons Why Not, a consulting producer for Parks and Recreations, and the creator and executive producer of Suburgatory.
There were many things in As Told by Ginger that separated it from other Nicktoons at the time. First, there were story arcs. The kids began to grow and change in personality, some for the best and some for the worst. For example, in the first season, Ginger wanted to fit in with the popular crowd and had a huge crush on Ian. However, on the second season, Ginger became more of herself and didn't worry about being with the group anymore. Also, she knew that Ian would never be interested in Ginger, so she started going out with other guys such as a boy she met on summer camp named Sasha, a boy named Orion, and even Darren. Macie is a shy, nervous girl who fears change in the first two seasons, but in the third season, she's more confident and strong. Although she's still a bit timid, she had came a long way compared to the previous seasons. Also, she changed her looks by a new hairstyle and occasionally wearing contact lenses.
And then there's Darren. He completely went 180 throughout the series when he finally got his headgear removed. When we finally get a good look at his face, he's a really handsome guy that gets the attention of all the girls, especially Miranda. Then in the third season, he looks almost unrecognizable. His hair grew longer, he gets more muscular, he becomes more popular, and he joins the high school football team making his father and brother proud. What?! Why did they change his character? I actually prefer him being a different character being different from his father and brother and being the black sheep of the family. It creates a bit of tension that anyone who doesn't feel like they fit in their family can relate to. Yes, yes, I know that Darren represents the ugly duckling-white swan transformation, but to me, he ends up being a stereotypical popular jock! What a disappointment!
Also, there's the fact that in every season of the show, they change grades. The first season starts of with Ginger and her friends in the 7th grade and Carl and his classmates in the 4th grade. On the third season, Ginger and her friends are in high school and Carl and his classmates are in junior high. It was a very rare thing in cartoons to age in real time, even in today's time. Not to mention that the characters started wearing different clothes throughout the series. The reason why many animated shows have the characters wearing the same clothes is because it's cheaper to animate and it saves time. However, they decided that since the characters are developing in each episode, they deserve different outfits.
As Told by Ginger contains serious themes such as addiction, depression, going through the struggles of teenhood, love, betrayal, and even death. While other Nickelodeon shows such as Doug and Hey Arnold tackled everyday life issues, the main characters in those shows were kids. As Told by Ginger was a Nicktoon starring teenagers having normal teenage issues.
The show lasted for 3 seasons until it ended its run on September 21, 2009. When the show first aired, it had gained a huge amount of popularity among many teenagers. So much so that it became one of the shows to air on TeenNick. However in the second season, the popularity declined. Not because of the show taking a different direction, but because the show had changed its schedule numerous times. Eventually in 2002, As Told by Ginger aired exclusively on the Nicktoons Network. At the time, many people didn't have Nicktoons Network so many people weren't able to see the third season. It wasn't until years later until the final TV movie The Wedding Frame was released on DVD and people were able to see As Told by Ginger conclude its story. It's a very satisfying ending to the series, in fact it's one of the best endings in any Nickelodeon show ever.
Overall, I absolutely love this show! Looking back at it again, I can't believe some of the messages it taught and how relatable the characters were. It was really ahead of its time with the story arcs, different clothes, and the development of the characters. No other Nickelodeon shows had ever done this at that point and it was so refreshing to see something like this. However, I've seen a lot of comments and responses that people hated this show because it was more for girls than boys. It was understandable since Nickelodeon was mostly geared towards boys at the time and seeing a show like As Told by Ginger was a damper for them.
But wait a minute, as I recalled from my review of Clarissa Explains it All, a lot of guys watched that show as much as girls. So, what's with the hate with As Told by Ginger? I don't know.
While I think that The Wild Thornberrys is overrated and underwhelming, As Told by Ginger is very underrated and overwhelming. There are so many episodes that I have seen that made me laugh, think, and even cry. If you haven't seen this show in a while, give it a chance. It's a very well-written cartoon that still holds up to this very day. I highly recommend it!
That's all for now! Tune in next time as I count down my favorite As Told by Ginger episodes.
Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Thanks for reading.