Every week (and nearly everyday) throughout the ’90s, American kids watched a group of rag-tag talking babies navigate through their larger-than-life world and learn the ups-and-downs of growing up. Rugrats (which is now streaming on Hulu), was Nickelodeon’s second ever cartoon – was preceded only by Doug, and they premiered on the same night – ran for 9 seasons and 172 episodes. It racked up awards and led to movies, endless merchandise, and a spin-off series.
Conceptualized by the then-married animation team Klasky Csupo (producer Arlene Klasky and animator Gábor Csupó), who had created The Simpsons, the show captivated not only their youthful audience, but also the targets’ parents with sight gags and witty pop culture references.
The former couple went on to create some of Nick’s most beloved series (Rocket Power, The Wild Thornberrys), and are down to give it another shot (hear that, The Splat?!). While it remains to be seen if the pair could recreate the magic of the initial 1991 phenomenon, it’s safe to say that they gave the network a lot of firsts. Read on for more on that, and some other interesting tidbits about The Rugrats.
Angelica caused the show’s original creative team to break up.
There’s no question – terrible toddler Angelica was a brat. While her naughty behavior led to guaranteed laughs, and she was usually reprimanded (either by her parents or the universe), the character quickly became a boiling point for the creative team.
Arlene Klasky admitted that she hated Angelica, finding her “too mean” and distasteful with her signature insult: “you dumb babies.” She hated her so much that she soon began to face off against her ex-husband/co-collaborator and the show’s writing team, who all wanted to keep up Angelica’s antics in an effort to stay modern and unique.
Things reached a boiling point in 1993, and most of the writers either left or were kicked off the program. The show went into a nearly three-year hiatus of airing merely reruns (save from some specials), before a team was pieced back together.
The lead singer of Devo wrote the show’s theme song.
Remember those guys from the ’80s who wore red cones on their head and sang about whippin’ it good – well, the group’s co-founder is the same man behind the Rugrats theme song.
Mark Mothersbaugh left his Devo days behind to help score the series – coming on board while the characters were still being conceptualized.
“They would sit on these crates that I had because I didn’t have enough chairs for everyone,” Mothersbaugh (who inspired Chuckie with his wild hair and thick glasses) said of creating the playground sound during the early days of the show.
Mothersbaugh quickly picked up on the Klasky-Csupo vision, and wowed the team with his first draft of the song.
“I sampled a lot of human sounds early on for Rugrats,” he revealed. “I was sampling noises made from humans that became percussion and became bass instruments and things like that.”