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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that in Rugrats one main character, Angelica -- who, like the rest of the gang, is a child -- is mean and manipulative and known for being a liar. Young viewers will need to be reminded that they shouldn't follow her example, no matter how funny they find her antics. The show can get a little loud and whiny at times, but, then again, the central characters are literally a bunch of babies.
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What's the story?
The second longest-running animated series on television (behind The Simpsons), and perhaps more responsible for the success of Nickelodeon than any other show, RUGRATS follows the adventures of a group of baby friends led by Tommy Pickles (voiced by Elizabeth Daily), a toddler who hatches more schemes than his child-psychology-studying mother could begin to imagine. Red-haired Chuckie (Christine Cavanaugh) is the timid one, and some of the series' most endearing episodes feature his friends helping him overcome his many fears. Twins, Phil and Lil (Kath Soucie) add some kid-friendly hilarity as they munch on bugs and store food in their diapers. Decidedly less sweet is the infamous Angelica (Cheryl Chase), a bigger kid who can talk to adults or babies and doesn't hesitate to lie to either audience.
Is it any good?
Although the series focuses mainly on the babies' escapades -- often as they wander far from their parents -- the show promotes family love and cohesiveness right along with kids' independent spirit. Adults can appreciate the way Rugrats gently pokes fun at neurotic parenting, as well as the inherent humor in trying to raise kids correctly. In regards to Angelica's naughty antics, most young viewers will be able to categorize them as "bad behavior."
Over the years the series has added to its core cast, seemingly to increase the diversity of the show. Chuckie's single dad married an Asian woman, whose daughter, Kimi (Dionne Quan), then became a regular. Tommy also gained a baby brother and had to deal with the complexities and emotions a sibling introduces.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the difference between finding humor in a cartoon like Rugrats and emulating it. Some antics are funny but not meant to be imitated.
Do kids think the characters' behavior is realistic, funny, or dangerous?
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