Everything I Know About Feminism I Learned From 'Rugrats'

by Eitan Levine

“Rugrats” will go down in history as one of the most unheralded pieces of feminist media to grace TV screens.

OK, OK, OK, OK, everyone calm down for a second and think about it.

Really think about the show's narrative, who the cast is and how they interact with each other. Think about who makes the bold moves and who you'd want in your corner during a bar fight or some law-ish thing. (Trial. I'm trying to say law trial. I have no idea why I referred to it as "law-ish thing.)

For me, "Rugrats'" feminist strength all comes down to its characters. The women in "Rugrats" were mentally stronger, prouder and more equipped to deal with the world than the men in the show -- sans Tommy who is probably running NATO at this point in the Nicktoon-iverse.

Here is a quick breakdown of every dude in 'rats:

Chuckie Finster

Overly anxious, paranoid, manic, depressive.

Stu Pickles

Barely motivated man-child who refuses to accept parenting responsibilities to any substantial degree. He also has breakdowns like every four episodes.

Drew Pickles

I'm sure he was a decent finance bro at some point, but now he is just a broken-down shell of a man who probably has one joy in life: fantasy baseball.

Grandpa Lou

WW2 vet with crippling undiagnosed PTSD (re: his connection to that mattress he tripped over to get him discharged from the army).

Howard Deville

Arguably the most forgettable person on the planet.

Grandpa Boris

Guy throws a shit fit over smudged glasses at a Passover seder and then makes everyone, INCLUDING CHILDREN, listen to his thoughts on Passover as an allegory about the Holocaust.

*NOTE: I didn't include Phil in this. As far as I'm concerned, he and Lil' are one unit so it is impossible to split them.

Useless, terrifying, useless, useless, preachy.

The women in this show, though, kick absolute ass. Each is proud, independent and really only held back by the men in their lives.

This meant a lot to me as a kid. I went to an all-boys Jewish school, which meant my only exposure to women were my mom (who is whatever the Jewish version of a saint is), my sisters, the school nurse, my mom's friend Lorraine and my aunts. Seeing women who weren't related to me be the alphas on TV was beyond important.

Check this squad:

Angelica Pickles

#InMyChildhood bullies were like her Angelica, Rugrats pic.twitter.com/F3WHJohwgx — Tayyba (@Tayyba_Babar) July 22, 2016

You may look at this face and see a devious toddler trash human, but you know what I see?

I see a girl who goes out and gets what she wants. She is not pushed around ever by anyone and knows how to manipulate any system to her favor. Angelica is the original Claire Underwood and we all need to start recognizing her as the brilliant phoenix she is.

Diane “Didi” Pickles

I have no idea how she keeps her shit together but GA'BLESS THIS BEAUTIFUL FRIGGIN SOUL.

Her husband is a toy inventor with the emotional maturity of a Hot Pocket and her son is a textbook example of a kid who will go on ADHD meds at some point in the future. She is the glue behind this family and does not get nearly enough credit for her efforts.


Betty Deville

Part powerlifter, part conversation bull, part mom.

Betty Deville is not someone you wanna screw around with. She's the ultimate mama bear. She'll pound you into the ground for dissing her or her family one moment and will turn around to offer you some food or a joke the next. Betty Deville simply does not have time to deal with the incompetent men in her life, so she doesn't. She has beat her husband's soul into submission and will beat yours, too, if you wanna play games in her court.

Charlotte Pickles

Charlotte Pickles will wheel and deal her way to getting what she wants. She is exactly what we all assume Angelica will eventually become and it is breathtakingly terrifying. She is the one fictional character I'd be petrified of going into court against. I can only assume Charlotte Pickles eventually became a Senator or like in charge of Enron or something.

Dr. Lucy Carmicheal

Harvard educated and a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, Dr. Lucy Charmicheal is the kind of woman I want to see on currency in the future.

There needs to be less Anne Hathaways and Scott Disicks in the world to make way for all the Dr. Lucy Carmicheals we have coming up the chain. She is introduced later in the series so we don't know much about her, but everything we do know is great and if she was to join "The View" tomorrow it would make the world a better place.

"Rugrats" is pure feminist iconography. God bless you, Nickelodeon. You're doing the lord's work. #ImWithHer