Rugrats (1991 – 2004)
There are very few television cartoons that appeal equally to children and adults, but Rugrats is one of those exceptions. Of course, this didn’t even begin production until I was at the latter ends of my teens so perhaps I’m not the best judge of straddling demographics, but I’ve watched Rugrats with my five-year old nephew and laughed right along with him.
The main characters of the show are one-year old Tommy, his two-year old best friend Chuckie, and his three-year old cousin Angelica. Tommy is usually the brains of the operation and often comes across as pretty wise for your regular one-year old kid. Chuckie was my favourite character (I wonder if that’s because I like redheads) and is scared of anything remotely exciting. Angelica is the resident bully and schemer, whose only concern is for herself.
The plots are usually witnessed through their eyes (along with various other friends and relatives) as we follow them through their day to day activities, and make their mundane toddler lives seem like fantastic adventures. Episodes are often populated with exaggerated and hyperbolic scenes in order to represent their vivid imaginations, which are sometimes presented to the viewer as pre-watershed versions of a trippy acid sequence.
The show was crudely animated and visually was always a little ragged around the edges, but that was part of the charm. A trilogy of films followed, but – passable as they are – Rugrats definitely worked better as twenty minute bites.