The Rugrats 2021 Revival Season 1 Review
When I was growing as a kid at the turn of the century, there were only two channels that I could count on for my after-school cartoon fix: Kids WB and Nickelodeon. But mostly Nickelodeon. I saw all the Nicktoons: Angry Beavers, Jimmy Neutron, Fairly Oddparents, Doug, Spongebob, & Invader Zim. But when none of those were on, I would watch one show more than others: Rugrats
One of the first three Nicktoons to be created, Rugrats ended up being a rating goldmine. A cartoon about babies who could turn everyday activities into epic adventures, it was so simple in premise, yet so amazing. It reminded us of what it was like to look at the world when we were little. When every day held the promise of something new and exciting. People loved it. Heck, I wished my life could’ve been like the Rugrats.
All good things must come to an end, though. After thirteen years, three theatrical films, a dozen video games, and a spin-off with them as pre-teens, the original Rugrats came to an end. The sequel/spin-off lasted until 2008 before it, too, came to an end. However, fast-forward thirteen years, and the Millennials who grew up on these shows are all grown up. That means that we’re now nostalgically profitable, which means it’s revival time! Thus, here we find ourselves with the release of the CGI revival of Rugrats on Paramount+. But does it retain the magical charm of the original series?
In a nutshell, yes, more or less.
Those Wacky Babies Remain the Same…
With the revival of Rugrats comes the chance to start fresh and new and take things in a different direction. Fortunately, though, Nickelodeon and Klasky-Csupo know what the fans want. So, thankfully, the babies remain the same. They even have all of the original voice actors back to playing their roles, and it’s clear that even after all this time, they all remain as good as they were the day the show first premiered.
As far as characterization goes, the babies remain the same as they always. Tommy’s still the bravest baby ever, Chuckie’s a coward, and Angelica’s still a budding sociopath. Susie’s the only exception, and that’s because she got aged down to Chuckie’s age. However, one big difference that longtime fans will notice is the absence of two babies: Tommy’s brother, Dil, and Chuckie’s stepsister, Kimi. While some fans would love to see them return in the revival, there’s no word from the higher-ups regarding their status.
…But the Adults Have Changed (Sort of)
Looking back on the grown-ups in Rugrats, it’s easy to see that they were teaching us how not to be a parent. The grown-ups were incompetent to the point that, if this were real life, any adult with a brain would call child services. But, we always forgave them since their gross negligence enabled most of the show’s plots. In the series revival, I’m happy to say that the adults are still the same inept parents we all know and love. With some changes.
Whereas the original series had the adults spoofing our parent’s generation, the revival series appropriately depicts the adults as Millennials, with the interests and quirks that go with them. In other words, they’re us! Versions of us where we’re all able to afford our own homes and have kids, but still us! Looking at the adults and seeing them enjoy social media and video games with the same zeal as us, gave me mixed feelings. On one hand, it feels flattering to know that we’re old enough to be spoofed on TV. On the other hand, the fact that Stu and Chas have homes and kids when so many of us don’t is a little disparaging.
However, the biggest changes in the adults (besides new voice actors) are their personalities, with two big examples. In this iteration, Betty DeVille, Phil and Lil’s Mom, is not only a single Mom, she’s lesbian. The news that Betty would be openly lesbian has already made a big splash in the entertainment world. I love this idea; it’s another win for the LGBTQ+ community, and it speaks wonders for how things have changed for the better.
The other big change is Lou Pickles. In the original show, he was a cranky but loving grandpa and WWII veteran. Since the WWII Vet is no longer feasible, though, they turned him into a Boomer and former Hippie. That’s right; Lou Pickles is a hippie, complete with a mellow attitude and ponytail!
The Rugrats Revival’s Got Potential
Currently, there are only five episodes out for the Rugrats revival, with more likely on the way in the future. Which is a good thing, because I think that the revival has potential.
At first, the revival doesn’t seem to recapture the magic that made the original a pop culture powerhouse. However, once it gets the ball rolling and allows time for the crazy misadventures to take off, then things start to get fun. Before I knew it, it felt like I was watching an episode of Rugrats just like when I was a kid. By the time I finished the fifth episode, I was already wanting more.
While I’m naturally apprehensive about this revival, that’s more due to the fact that I know just how precarious that concept is. It has to learn to become its own thing while still being respectful of the original. However, given how the show’s original creators and many voice actors have come back, I don’t think we have to worry about it being faithful. I’m genuinely curious as to whether the new Rugrats can make it on its own. While it may not reach the level of hype the original did, I’m hoping that it manages to last for a good, long time. Who knows? Maybe when I have kids, I’ll be sitting them down and showing them the revival and original Rugrats back to back. Here’s hoping.