Remember the good old days? Back before papers and deadlines and bills? Back when all you did was go to school and then rush home to catch your favorite show on TV? Yeah, those were the days. My generation has experienced an early onset of nostalgia that makes us long for those days, and we relive them by re-watching old TV shows that used to mean a lot to us. At least, that’s what I did over Spring Break. I watched all 60 episodes of As Told By Ginger.
I’m sure most of you reading this remember As Told By Ginger. It aired on Nickelodeon from 2000 to 2003. You know, back when cartoons were good. As Told By Ginger tells the story of Ginger, a girl who is just trying to fit in and survive junior high (and later high school). It is told through the lens of her diary, which we often see her writing in. ATBG is a very down-to-earth show that simply tells Ginger’s story, and it’s a very compelling one.
If you don’t remember As Told By Ginger, you might still be familiar with the animation style. The show was produced by Klasky Csupo, the same company responsible for such gems as Rugrats, The Wild Thornberrys, and Rocket Power. But what sets this show apart is that it isn’t marketed toward children. As Told By Ginger aired during Nickelodeon’s TeenNick block and was meant to appeal to preteens and teens. So although there are some similarities to other cartoons of the time, ATBG is also very different.
My favorite thing about As Told By Ginger is that the show deals with some real issues. It’s meant to entertain, but it also does more than that. Ginger and her friends have to face some very tough challenges that preteens and teens also deal with in real life. Ginger’s parents are divorced, and she tries to build a relationship with her estranged father throughout the series. In one episode, Ginger writes a sad poem and is believed to suffer from depression. One of the final episodes features a breakup scene that’s as heartwrenching and real as anything you’ll see in a live action drama. Other themes explored are betrayal, first love, substance abuse, growing up, and even death. As Told By Ginger isn’t afraid of taking these issues head-on and dealing with them in a very real way, and that’s something that I appreciate a lot.
The characters on the show are just wonderful. The show focuses mainly on Ginger and her best friends Dodie and Macie. Darren, the classic boy next door, is also a main character. Ginger is taken under the wing of popular girl Courtney and thus develops a rivalry with Courtney’s best friend Miranda. But the show also focuses on Ginger’s family. Lois, Ginger’s mom, plays a key role, and most episodes feature some kind of storyline involving Carl (Ginger’s little brother), Hoodsey (Dodie’s little brother), and Blake (Courtney’s little brother) and their middle school hijinks. The show has a great cast, and they interact in hilarious, unexpected ways throughout the series.
Being a teen show, As Told By Ginger also breaks some cartoon conventions. The characters change outfits to show a change of day, which was probably a lot of work but adds to the show’s credibility. The characters also change in appearance over time, just like the show’s audience. Darren especially shows dramatic change over time, going from wimpy brace-face to hulking football stud. But all of the characters show some development, and I think that’s pretty cool.
As most good things do, As Told By Ginger ended long before it should have. It only ran for three seasons, and even some of those episodes didn’t air until years after they had been produced. It’s a bit of a shame, but thanks to the Internet, all of the episodes can be watched online. The show also airs on the TeenNick channel from time to time. I think As Told By Ginger is a great show that has a lot to offer. If you used to watch it, it can give you that nice sense of nostalgia people my age are so fond of. And if you’ve never seen it before, the show has a lot of heart and some great life lessons that anyone can appreciate. Check out As Told By Ginger and re-live one of the greatest cartoons (or maybe even one of the greatest shows) to ever grace television.