I'm approximately the same age of Rugrats. That is, we were both born in 1991, we're both 27 years old, and we're both... wait, actually I'm probably closer in age to the adults in Rugrats. That's a real eye-opener with recent talks of a reboot, because I'm pretty sure I can no longer watch these dangerous "adventures" unfold without getting anxious that Tommy or Chuckie will get killed or kidnapped. It really makes me terrified of the premise of parenthood: You look away for one second, and those babies are off selling all your furniture, ruining your business deals, and falling off of buildings.
Now granted, I'm not sure if this more of a reflection of the kids being harbingers of chaos or the parents being, you know, bad parents. Like I'd definitely say that there's a certain amount of neglect that goes into every episode if these kids are constantly wandering off. Either way, let me revisit some hard reasons why the Rugrats kids make me low-key worried about procreating anytime soon.
1. "Waiter, There's A Baby In My Soup"
There was a baby in the spaghetti too, and you guessed it, it's that troublemaker Tommy. So in this season 1 episode, Tommy is brought along on an important business dinner between Stu and Mr. Mucklehoney, President of Mucklehoney Toys. Did has to bail Grandpa out of some kind of bowling mishap, leaving Tommy with the guys AKA essentially by himself.
Tommy slips away, tying his dad's shoelaces to the table and wraps Mr. Mucklehoney up with some gum. Then he wreaks havoc in the kitchen, tossing silverware in a pie, tabasco in soup...which BTW, ends up being Mr. Mucklehoney. Luckily Mr. Mucklehoney thinks it's hilar and offers to pay the massive damage bill Tommy left in his wake. He says they could use a man like Stu at Mucklehoney Toys, but since he's never seen again it can be safely assumed that Stu ended up with zilch.
Better keep working on putting Pickles' on the map.
Grandpa and Stu are men who love man things, so they decide to take Tommy out to the ballgame. Tommy could give AF about sports, and instead gets distracted by a lovely little balloon. In his quest to get it, he climbs higher and higher, and ultimately SWAN DIVES OFF OF THE STADIUM, grabbing the baseball as his plummets towards the ground.
You know who has to save Tommy? The gum-snapping ballplayer who's trying to win the game. Like, God forbid Tommy was just free- falling sans that home run.
3. "Toy Palace"
Stu and Chaz take their sons to the toy store and Tommy, being Tommy, thinks it's a gr8 idea to live there. Chucky produces some predictably nasally variant of "I don't know, Tommy" and Tommy's all like no, this is our home now. Stu and Chaz take home some decoy toys instead, and the best part here is that Chucky is easily mistaken for a curly haired monkey stuffed animal.
4. "Garage Sale"
"Garage Sale" is great, because the babies decide to sell all of the Pickles' worldly possessions under the guise of "helping." The cherry on top, though, is that before they do this, Tommy gives a whole speech about how he's entitled to f--k up his parents' lives.
"Do you remember when we went over the fence to get my ball from the other yard," he asks. "Were we too little then? Or when we put mud in my daddy's shoe so it makes squishy noises when it walked? Were we too little then? Or when we filled the potty with Jell-O so the fish wouldn't get hungry, were we too little then?"
OMFG. Chuckie then reminds him that they got in trouble for all that and Tommy says, "We're babies! We're supposed to get in trouble! That's our job!"
Can't argue that, because Stu has a mental breakdown when he realizes his 8-tracks are gone.
5. "Momma Trauma"
The main conflict here is that Tommy draws on the walls and Didi thinks he needs to see a child therapist. Now, as the Wiki for this episode points out (in an irrationally angry way), drawing on the walls is v v common behavior to expect from a child. But we see the extent of psychological damage on Stu in this episode, who pretty much bogarts the entire (wildly expensive) session.
6. "Stu Gets a Job"
I'm maaaaaybe starting to think that Stu is a big part of the problem here. In this episode, Didi rightfully tells Stu to get an effing job so they can pay the bills. Stu gets a dead-end (but bill-paying!) job as a lard salesman, and Tommy gets indigent. How DARE his father try to keep the family from falling into destitution when he's supposed to stay home and play with Tommy!
Tommy then decides to sabotage Stu around the house, and Stu for some reason thinks Drew is pulling pranks on him. IDK, it's a whole big mess, frankly.
Ultimately Tommy does something to help complete Stu's bubble machine, Stu quits his job and Didi's chill with it because she thinks it'll bring in lots of income. But even if that's true, maybe it wouldn't be so bad for Stu to have some job stability. Like, he has a family to feed, he's clearly not great at watching the kids, and I just feel like we're stuck in a vicious cycle now.
7. "Reptar on Ice"
The cheapest, and I stress cheapest tickets for Disney on Ice right now are about $30. Let's multiply that by three adults and four children. Not including tax, that's a $210 night.
So let's say you go to the Reptar on Ice at similar prices, and fall asleep during the pedestrian story of an off-brand Godzilla in love. It's only a matter of time before your infants slip away in the effort to reunite Reptar with his "baby" (aka a tiny, probably salmonella-tinged lizard). Now, we're watching babies on ice!
EXCEPT BABIES ARE SO SMALL, THEIR HEADS ARE SO MUSHY, THEY SHOULD NOT BE ON ICE. As "Reptar" so bravely puts it, "It's some kids! On the ice! What's a dinosaur to do when there's kids on the ice! Quick! Somebody call their mom!"
8. "Angelica Breaks a Leg"
And I would be remiss if I didn't mention Angelica's most iconic triumph as a child sociopath, when she "broke" her leg. To recap, thanks to an injury fake-out and an X-ray switch-up, Stu and Didi are told Angelica has a broken leg. They try to make her comfortable as possible, even installing a buzzer in her room. Bad move.
Angelica then uses this buzzer to get 24/7 attention, culminating in a middle of the night request for chocolate pudding. Didi later walks into the kitchen and asks, "It's four o'clock in the morning, why on earth are you making chocolate pudding?" Stu, dead inside, replies, "Because I've lost control of my life." A meme is born.
That said, we can't shortchange the torment Angelica inflicts on her aunt and uncle; by day four, both of them are shaking with terror.
9. "Mommy's Little Assets"
My favorite Rugrats episode is probably the one where Angelica and Tommy almost ruin Charlotte's big account with Famous Ethel's. It's a v special episode because A. we get a rare appearance from Jonathon and B. the Pickles kids try to ruin Charlotte's life and career instead of Stu's, for once. That's particularly cruel because unlike Stu, Charlotte lives, breathes, and sweats ambition. After a series of mishaps, Tommy and Angelica take the cake by destroying Cookie World, the model mock-up of Famous Ethel's amusement park.
It ultimately has a happy ending, but I get a genuinely laugh when Drew gets home and Angelica says her mom is upstairs taking a shower: "She said she had to wash away the stench of failure."
The Rugrats Las Vegas special is best known for two things. That is, it's impeccable use of The Go-Go's "Vacation" in the opener, and a plot that revolves around small children trying to hunt down two vicious tigers to pet. Dude, the parents just wanted to go gambling.
11. "Special Delivery"
"Special Delivery" is pretty standard early Rugrats fare, where the basic plot is "Tommy wanders off." This time, he's hunting down a doll at the post office, thinking it's going to be his new sister or whatever. But let's not undermine the fact that on this garden variety quest, which features fun shots through many highly dangerous chutes and conveyer belts, TOMMY PICKLES ALMOST GETS SENT IN THE MAIL.
I WOULD BE SO UPSET IF I TURNED AROUND AND MY CHILD WAS MAILED AWAY.
12. 'The Rugrats Movie'
God, the Rugrats Movie actually is the biggest warning to never have kids — or a strong cautionary tale about not doubling up. Everyone resents the very obviously colic-y Dil for all his crying, and so they decide to commit GRAND THEFT AUTO by stealing the Reptar Wagon, trying to return the kid to the hospital. Then the kids drive the wagon off the cliff, getting lost in the woods, and inciting an entire media frenzy.
Yeah, I don't know. It just sounds very stressful.