A Jew Explains What 'Rugrats' Got Right About Passover
LET! MY! BABIES! GO!
If there is one problem with being Jewish, aside from trying to explain to your co-workers why you have to miss 3/4 of September to atone for your sins and eat out of a wooden hut while you shake a palm frond, it's that we don't have TV specials.
OK, YES, PERSECUTION, BLOOD LIBELS, MADOFF AND THE HOLOCAUST WERE ALSO BAD THINGS! CALM DOWN! This is meant to be a FUN conversation, Avi!
(Above was an accurate depiction of how that convo would go at any Passover seder.)
It's like the entire rest of the planet gets to enjoy their religion's holiday specials while Jews get that one cartoon by Adam Sandler and being able to go "did you know that Mila Kunis is actually Jewish? Yeah, her and Sasha Baron Cohen" every few months to their goyishe friends at bar trivia.
Thankfully, "Rugrats" has always had our back.
The "Rugrats" Chanukah and Passover specials are as important to the Jewish people as most of the talmud and all of the book of Prophets -- admittedly the weakest of books (COME AT ME, BROSES).
It doesn't mean they got it all right, though. So we decided to breakdown where "Rugrats" hit Passover out of the ballpark and where they could have used a little more time in Hebrew school.
Wrong: There aren't presents or cookies
There is an ongoing joke in the episode that Passover sucks because there are no cookies or presents. That is straight-up not true.
First off, there ARE presents. You get afikomen presents when you find the missing slab of matzo at the end of the seder (this is all a real thing, by the way).
Every Jewish kid knows that Afikomen presents are usually the best Jewish-themed presents because there are only two of them a year. Compare that to eight days of half-assed presents that you get on Chanukah, and it's pretty easy to see how Afikomen presents are clearly the best gift thing Jews give out all year.
Secondly, every kid who doesn't eat bread for a week-ish in April every year knows there are a billion bread supplements that are *takes a bite of a potato flour chocolate chip cookie, pukes, cries, googles "what is being a Mormon like"* just as good as the original.
Right: Boris and Minka
I swear to Jewish Christ, Tommy's grandparents, Boris and Minka, are the most accurate cartoon personification of Jewish people you will ever see.
Everything from casually name dropping old-timey Jewish towns like Minsk and Smolinsk to Minka's gefilte fish recipe is spot-on.
Right: The Seder is boring
This is a fairly hot take — like, marror hot *ba dum chi* — but I think every Jewish person out there reading this at least secretly agrees with me.
The seder is, like, six hours long, and you spend half of it reading from a book you already read and know the conclusion of. If I told you that once a year you'd have to sit and watch the entirety of "LOST" in a single sitting, you'd stop being jazzed about it after the first few years also.
You're not even eating during the first, like, three hours of this effing meal. Plus, those four cups of wine you're supposed to drink is spread out over the entire seder, so that's, like, one cup every other hour. Zero buzz.
Morally Wrong: Boris hides in the attic
I'm not going to say EXACTLY why this is wrong, but they could not have found a more triggering place to have Boris, a straight-up Holocaust survivor, retell the story than the attic of his house.
Wrong: Pharaoh saved Moses/gave him an adorable tour of the palace
It was Pharaoh's daughter who actually picked Tommy out of the Nile, not Pharaoh himself. She then chose to raise him as an Egyptian until he figured out that he was the savior of the Jewish people, or whatever.
Wrong: Moses pushes an Egyptian guard and then gets told on
There is a scene in the show where Tommy pushes one of the Egyptian guards over, which leads to him being unmasked as a baby, aka Jew. (Jews are babies in this story, if you remember.) The truth is that the actual story was a lot darker.
According to the ol' Torah (WE DON'T NEED NO NEW TESTEY, BRAH!), Moses saw a guard beating a Jewish slave to death while working.
He went over to try and save him, and ended up killing the guard instead. Nickelodeon can't show a bunch of babies "Hunger Game"-ing each other, so they swapped it out with a more child-friendly version.
Half Right: Plagues, frogs, lice, darkness, wild animals, hail, locusts, first born “taken away"
This is more of a clerical note than anything else. Only, like, half of the plagues get any screen time during the "10 plagues" portion of the show.
Missing from the Passover special was when God turned all of the water into blood, killed all of the livestock, gave the people of Egypt painful boils and somehow got the hail it was raining to be covered in fire.
Once again, Nickelodeon can't show Angelica drinking a cup of blood as she scratches a boil open on her face, so they made it kid friendly.
Speaking of making stuff kid friendly...
Mostly Wrong: Pharaoh was worried about being taken away by God because she was a first born
Nickelodeon couldn't show a bunch of kids dying in the street, so they turned the whole "killing of the first borns" thing into a vague "taking away of the first borns" thing.
What I'm trying to say is that, sometimes, Nickelodeon can be a bit of a buzzkill.
Right, But More Graphic: The Egyptians all drowned
Another element that Nick had to make child-friendly was how the sea swallowed up the Egyptian army when they went chasing the Jews.
They really play it down in the show, but the Egyptian army gets their shit drownded HOOOORD in the sea. Way HOOOORDER than what the cartoon shows.
The cruel part about this is that, although there is some debate, Pharoah didn't die in the ocean. He was left to think about how big he fucked up for the rest of his life.
Right: Matzo sucks