Toon Tunes: The Moxie of Spinelli

curated by Sophy Ziss

Recess’ Ashley Spinelli was a regular installment of Saturday Morning Cartoons in the late 1990s and early 2000s and was pretty much everyone’s favorite ass-kicking, Italian-American pint-sized punk/general playground terror. Yes, Spinelli was tough, but she was also sweet; she was always a loyal friend, quick to defend her gang, and did not mince words on the playground. (I think I learned the term “lummox” from her. In fact, I know I did.) So while she chafed against her family’s expectations for a perfect little girl, roughhoused with her brother, and struggled with her identity – I mean, was there a more dramatic ‘90s reveal than the name “Ashley Spinelli? – Spinelli did it with a conscience, while rocking a dress and motorcycle boots. In fourth grade! She didn’t take shit from anyone, and even bounced back from calling the teacher “Mommy.” Plus, she was totally into T.J. And I don’t blame her for that.

So here is my playlist, inspired by a moody, dramatic cartoon child borne of the 1990s. Though she be but little, she is fierce.