I have watched a lot of Rugrats and All Grown Up recently with my children due to the weather and being trapped in doors. For those who don’t remember, Rugrats was a Nickelodeon cartoon from the 90s about…babies, told from their perspective about adventures they got into. All Grown Up was set 10 years after the events of Rugrats with the same kids, not pre-teens/teenagers. I had a few random epiphanies while watching the show – or, in some cases, merely interesting observations. And by interesting, I mean interesting to me. Let’s discuss.
Sleepwalking – In a Season 1 episode of Rugrats (Real or Robots), Tommy’s Dad, Stu Pickles, has issues with sleepwalking when he gets overly tired and stressed. He finds himself making a 15 egg omelet on the floor and chasing the babies around the house thinking they were trying to mess up his act. In All Grown Up, we see an 11 year old Tommy Pickles sleepwalking as well (Thief Encounter). Tommy is overly stressed due to standardized tests and is found in random locations sleepwalking after stealing items off people’s lawns. Interesting how this gene carried down from father to son on the show.
Chuckie’s Mom – In an early episode of Rugrats, Chuckie spends the night at Tommy’s house and Stu Pickles (Tommy’s Dad), says, “Your Mom and Dad will pick you up in the morning.” While this is retconed in later seasons, it’s implied by this that Chuckie’s Mom died sometime during the first few seasons of the show. With her being mentioned in early episodes and later clearly not around (with the explanation of her death coming later), the implication is her death would occur in that first few seasons. That said, this is retconed in the season 4 episode Mother’s Day where it’s explained that she died soon after Chuckie was born. Most likely a continuity error from a one off statement in the first season, but still – sad to consider. It also begs the question – were they planning to tackle the death of Chuckie’s mother on the show?
What Gender Roles – Who needs parental gender roles? On Rugrats we have Angelica’s parents where her father is primarily in the home and her mother is the dominant bread winner. Phil and Lil’s parents have a very dominant, outdoorsy Mom and a very submissive, indoorsy, seemingly frail Dad. There’s an episode of Rugrats where the ladies and Tommy’s Grandfather are watching football. While this is ongoing, Stu Pickles and Angelica’s father are in the kitchen cooking and Phil & Lil’s Dad is knitting, ignoring the football game. We have working from home Dads, breadwinning Moms, Dads who prefer knitting to football. Traditional roles are spoofed at times in a way that still presents very traditional, two parent families.
Dil is Really Weird – In All Grown Up, Dil is a lot older and is always wearing a winter cap. At the end where a ball should be is a set of chattery teeth. He’s also always talking about aliens…always. In one episode, he assumes a new kid at school is an alien due to his crazy skills with a hacky sack. Yea, he’s weird. But, whatever – it’s comical.
It Still Holds Up – In spite of it being a very 90s show, it still holds up. The humor of watching babies running around, getting into adventures, from their own perspective is still interesting. The episodes of All Grown Up are a little weird and…don’t hold up as well, but are still pretty fun. Rugrats still holds the attention of my 5 year old and 3 year old for…hours on end. It’s still got it, 11 years after the last episode aired. Rugrats, oddly enough, may end up being a timeless classic. Not what I’d expect from a silly cartoon series about babies.