Skunk Love: “Sweet Pepper” review

If there’s one piece of advice I could give to anyone with regards to wooing a prospective mate, it’s this: Don’t take advice from anyone!

I say this because I once took the advice of a friend, and it turned out to be terrible advice, but I did not know that at the time. I can’t tell if she honestly thought it was a good idea, or she was secretly plotting some epic revenge over something!

But the fact that you might receive bad advice is not the only reason. Another reason is because taking someone else’s advice means going against what you yourself want to do. Which will only fuck things up in the long run. Your potential match will end up seeing not you, but your friend’s interpretation of what they think you should be. That is, assuming you don’t grossly misinterpret their advice.

This’ll result in one of two things, either they’ll be turned off, because they don’t find this version of you attractive, or they’ll be attracted to someone who’s not really you.

It may seem cliché, but really the best advice is to just be yourself. Don’t put on an act, just do whatever feels natural, and be honest. It may not ‘get you the girl (or boy),’ but it’ll mean that if they do reject you, they’ll be rejecting the real you, rather than some façade you put on. And that may seem bad, and it is, but let’s be honest, it was gonna happen anyway.

So, all this was going through my head as I watched a recent episode of Littlest Pet Shop. It’s all about Pepper falling in love. How great is that!?

Our story begins with the introduction of a new character, Captain Cuddles.

He’s a European polecat, who sounds french. And as the group introduces itself, Pepper finds herself speechless.

Then a pop ballad starts playing, as they look into each other’s eyes. Awww. It’s love at first sight. Which doesn’t actually happen by the way. Normally, one of them would have to say something to the other before they trigger that kind of reaction.

Pepper eventually snaps out of her daze, and realizes that the two of them are just staring at each other.

So, now she realizes she should probably do something. And she does do something. She punches him in the arm, and runs off.

Aww, she really does like him!

Eventually, Zoe comes across her, trying to figure out exactly why she’s acting like a nut. And she responds by saying, “Look, I don’t think Captain Cuddles is cute, and I don’t like him in any way. Got it!?” So, you’re not in love with him, you’re just insane. Yeah, I got it.

Then Russell wanders in, and has a bit of interesting trivia on hand: Skunks are sometimes known as polecats. So he summons Captain Cuddles over because… Hey look, etymology.

Anyway, this causes Pepper to freak out, triggering a laugh out loud comedy sequence that has to be seen. But it begs the question, why is she acting so afraid of him? Probably because she legitimately doesn’t know how to act around him.

Which is probably why she also keeps punching him, even when he tries flirting with her. It’s just confusion and fear. Heck, isn’t that how most children act when they have a crush on someone?

So after that pop ballad plays again, she calls him a weasel (it makes sense in context), punches him, and runs off to hide in the giant fire hydrant, where Buttercream is also hiding out.

Apparently Buttercream is upset that she’s not getting enough attention from Christie, but I don’t care, since I don’t like Buttercream.

But Pepper starts whinging like an angsty teenager, with slight schizophrenia. I don’t want to see Captain Cuddles again! He’s so dreamy.

But Buttercream, being the voice of reason for once, suggests she actually spend the day with him, triggering a fantasy sequence that might explain exactly why she’s so nervous around him. She knows she’s gonna find some way to screw it up. For in the sequence, we see them go on several dates, each of which end with Pepper pulling some physical prank, leaving him quite upset.

And any hatred I ever had for Buttercream evaporated for a few seconds, as she said, “Well, that was a weird fantasy.”

So Pepper gets pissed, and Buttercream runs off to warn the others of the angry skunk. Then, Zoe gets an idea: Give Pepper a makeover. Minka is a bit skeptical, and I kinda wish she remained skeptical throughout the episode, but she doesn’t. Instead she jumps right in.

But first, Zoe needs to make sure Cuddles is receptive to the new Pepper. So she asks Russell to subtly inform him that Pepper has a crush on him. Though what exactly she would mean by ‘subtle’ is beyond me. It’s also apparently beyond Russell, since he just walks up to him and says, “Pepper likes you.” I’m not even sure why exactly he needed to be subtle about it.

So, with that disaster out-of-the-way, Zoe works on prettying up Pepper. And the result?

…Meh. I think she went overboard on the makeup, and the fake mole isn’t really necessary.

But the others assure her that this’ll make Cuddles like her. So just as she’s about to leave, so she can go punch him, the girls stop her, because that would just fuck things up.

And remember when I said, don’t take advice from friends and just be yourself? I’ll add one caveat to that: Don’t punch them! That sends the wrong message! You don’t want to punch someone you have a crush on. You don’t want to punch anyone for that matter! No punching!

But they don’t limit their advice to just: No punching. Instead, they decide to give her a crash course in wooing a mate. Penny’s advice includes laughing at everything he says. Which Pepper immediately rejects, since she’s a comedian. She has fucking standards! You wouldn’t see a musician praise a five-year-old mashing the piano, nor would you see a molecular biologist believe in creationism. Laughing at everything he says, regardless of how funny it is, would go against who she is. Minka’s advice is basically to act like a maniac, to prevent any lulls in the conversation. Not exactly what one would call entirely good advice.

But with all the shit she has to memorize, it somehow breaks her brain. This’ll end badly.

Meanwhile, in another part of the pet shop, Cuddles is engaging in a bit of guy talk, and he asks the others why he finds Pepper so attractive. They only end up confused.

But it does illustrate something quite crucial. Pepper didn’t have to do anything to get Cuddles to like her. He already liked her! Though the arm punches probably sent him the wrong message.

But it’s at this point you’d expect Russell, who knows what’s going on, to inform Zoe of this latest development. At that point, she’d clue in that all of that primping might end up having a reverse-effect. But that doesn’t happen.

So eventually, Pepper manages to recover from her breakdown, just in time to woo Captain Cuddles. She follows the advice of her friends, and all it does is confuse the hell out of him. He’s immediately turned off, and leaves a dejected Pepper behind.

So, as she recovers from that disaster, Blythe arrives to help her out. Now where has she been all this time? Well, in her room, intending to finish a booked called Famished Fest. No, they weren’t being subtle. She wanted to finish it before she left to see the movie later that night. Unfortunately, the world’s neediest bunny wouldn’t leave her the fuck alone! It’s really a plot thread that goes no where, and is only interesting for the fact that Blythe is failing to finish the book, while her friends contact her to try to talk about the book, after she told them she hadn’t finished it yet. Inconsiderate jackasses. It ends with Christie outright telling her how the book ends, so Blythe doesn’t even bother finishing it on her own. Oh, come on! You can still read it! How’d they get to that ending? You don’t know!

Anyway, Pepper explains that the others tried to make her girly and failed. Which makes Blythe respond by saying there are so many different ways to be girly, and that she can be girly in her own way. You know, I don’t even think that word has any meaning at this stage, other than, ‘being female.’ And I don’t think it’s right for them to tell little girls they have to ‘be girly’ even if they don’t want to. On the flip side, if they want to ‘be girly,’ they can ‘be girly’ in whatever way they want, which is a good message.

But I think in this context, by ‘be girly’ they mean, ‘be attractive.’ And you know, that is true. There are so many different ways to be attractive. I think that’s one of the biggest problems in our society, people think there’s only one way to be attractive, and it’s an idea every fashion magazine tries to push. That is bullshit! Fat, small, short, tall, anyone can be attractive to someone! Sure, some girls like the muscular meatheads, but others like the scrawny intellectuals. And some boys like the prissy stick figures, while others like the tough tomboys.

It all comes down to personal preference, and Penny, Zoe, and Minka all assumed they knew what Cuddles’ personal preferences were, when they didn’t.

So, Pepper decides to keep the flower, and the eyeshadow, since that did appeal to her sensibilities. Then she goes out to talk to Captain Cuddles again, this time as the real Pepper. They hit it off quite quickly, and are sure to have many little hybrid pups together. I love a happy ending.

And with that the episode comes to a close. As the girls muse about how Pepper followed their advice in her own way.

And really, I think that’s the best message. I opened by saying you should never follow a friend’s advice. I’ll think I’ll modify that by saying you should never feel obliged to follow a friend’s advice. If you don’t feel comfortable taking their advice, don’t take their advice. If they give you a set of rules to follow, don’t bother memorizing them. There are no set rules to attracting a mate, and if you think there are, you’re an idiot. Keep them in the back of your mind, sure. If you’re not sure what to do, a bit of advice from a friend can come in handy. Hey, I have this great icebreaker you could try. Perfect! Use that!

And by the way, movies are shit first date sites, never use a movie. Dinner and a movie? Sure. Just a movie? Fuck off. You never get to talk to the person, so why even go out?

But what about the episode itself? It was funny, and enlightening, and an all-around good time. I loved it! It even featured a love-interest that was an actual character for once. Captain Cuddles was suave, and genteel, and intelligent, and discerning. He’s a character I actually like, and that proves it can be done! I hope to see more of him in the future. Or failing that, more interesting love-interests.

And the only problem I can see in this episode is the fact that Blythe was the only one who managed to be the voice of reason. Why exactly did it have to be her? I actually expected Minka to be the reasonable one for a brief few minutes, or possibly even Russell could’ve filled that role. Instead, it had to be the human, didn’t it? It just doesn’t feel appropriate. I’m sure they’ve always done this, but I kinda wish they’d stop. So we wouldn’t think the pets are dependant on Blythe, and it seems that they are, if the season premiere is anything to go by.

I’m starting to think the writers are racists. That’s not on!


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