I love Rugrats. I recently wrote about the Rugrats reboot set to premiere on Paramount Plus this spring, and mentioned Rugrats in my list of movies and TV shows to watch for each night of Hanukkah.
Basically, I’ll take any excuse to watch Rugrats as an adult and call it work. This is my dream job and I’m built for it.
As we approach our Passover 2021 in quarantine (again), I spent my Friday afternoon rewatching the Rugrats Passover episode (season 3, episode 23 and streaming on Hulu for anyone interested) to write down my thoughts and share with you all.
I know that I’m not the only 90s Jewish kid who loved this episode. It told the story in such an easily digestible way and is part of what made me grow to love this holiday more than Hanukkah. Who needs presents when you can eat charoset on matzoh, slurp up the family’s go-to matzoh ball soup recipe, sip on grape juice multiple times (or Manischewitz if you’re 21+), and sing hits like “Dayenuaa”?!
While I’d love to enjoy a more traditional Passover celebration having a seder with my family, watching Rugrats will have to do.
What passover means, according to Charlotte Pickles
The 23-minute Passover episode of Rugrats starts off with Angelica making a mess of matzo and borscht in the back seat of the car.
Very quickly, we get to understand Passover’s meaning thanks to Charlotte Pickles, Angelica’s mom. The corporate boss lady is on her cell phone saying that she has to miss the meeting due to Passover, saying “It’s hard to explain, I guess it’s about freedom.”
“Passover is about something much more than presents,” Charlotte Pickles goes on to say to Angelica who is complaining about having to celebrate the holiday. “It’s about freedom.”
“Freedom? Meaning like when you can do whatever you want and no one can tell you not to?” Angelica asks her mom, who says “well, sort of.”
We cut over to Tommy’s parents, Stu and Didi Pickles. Stu is saying how it’s a boring ceremony and holiday, but Didi disagrees, saying how “the Passover seder is a time for Jewish families to come together and retell the history of their people. They’ve been doing it for thousands of years.”
As an adult rewatching this, I’m pretty impressed with how quickly they explain the meaning.
Then, the real Passover story begins
After Tommy, Angelica, and Chuckie get to Boris and Minka’s house (Didi’s parents) for the seder, Angelica frees them from the playpen and leads them up to the attic to see if there are any cool toys to play with.
There, they discover Boris hiding out from the seder, and Angelica accidentally locks them into the attic. Angelica says how it’s a “dumb holiday,” and Boris responds saying “a dumb holiday?! Passover is the greatest holiday of the year!” Angelica retorts that if it’s so great, how come there aren’t any presents or cookies?
She has a great point––from a kid’s perspective, what’s so great about Passover?
This inspires Boris to tell the story of Passover to the babies and we get to enjoy a reenactment with the babies.
Angelica becomes the royal Pharaoh queen who discovers Tommy as Moses floating in a basket on the Nile River. Angelica made Moses one of his helpers to watch over all of the slaves building a new city for the Pharaoh queen. Phil, Lil, and Chuckie are all baby slaves. Instead of being called Jewish, they’re labeled as babies, making the story a little bit easier to digest for the kids at home.
After a cut to commercials (btw I really wish I could see what commercials originally aired), Boris continues the story, talking about how Moses comes across a burning bush that tells him to free all of the baby slaves.
Moses approaches Angelica on her Pharaoh throne and famously says, “I’m here to tell you to let my babies go!”
— Jaime Hutkin (she/her) (@jaimemere) March 26, 2021
Angelica refuses, and the plagues begin to strike the Egyptians: frogs, lice, darkness, wild beasts, and locusts.
The story gets interrupted again when Angelica’s dad, and then Angelica’s mom, discovers everyone in the attic, once again locking everyone in when they each close the door.
The story continues and the babies were still not free despite Angelica’s promise, so the worst plague happens: taking away the first-born child. Moses explains how “alls us babies gotta do is put a big red mark on our doors and then when it comes for the first born, our houses will be passed over.”
Phil says, “that must be why they call this Passover.”
That’s one smart baby, lol.
Angelica stops by and says everyone can go if they call off the final plague, and the babies set off for a new place to live.
Turns out Chuckie invented matzoh
As they’re heading out, Tommy asks Chuckie to grab the bread he baked to snack on during the journey. It turns out Chuckie forgot to put the yeast in the dough. Tommy complains, and Chuckie says “hey, look on the bright side, we just invented matzoh!”
Boris wraps up the Passover story, and starts a whole new one
We cut to the downstairs, where the few remaining adults are dragging through the Seder with the classic Haggadah, suddenly noticing that most people are missing.
Eventually, the adults find everyone in the attic and start fussing about how everyone was missing. Angelica tells them all to stop talking so she can hear the end of the Passover story.
We’re brought back to the Hebrew babies back on their journey away from Egypt as they approach the edge of the Red Sea. The Pharoahs are quickly approaching to try to force them back into baby slavery, but Tommy parts the Red Sea and leads the babies to freedom!
People are still talking about the Rugrats Passover episode
Rewatching the Rugrats Passover episode as an adult was more entertaining than I thought it would be.
It led me to wonder…is anyone else talking about this iconic piece of 90s television?
The answer is YES.
I spent last night (re)watching the Rugrats Passover special with my boyfriend (first time viewer).
After all these years, I still:
✅Love Boris and Minka
✅Totally get Angelica as Pharaoh
✅Appreciate a mainstream cartoon showing this
— Zachary (@JudaismAsOne) March 25, 2021
Agree with all 3 of these points.
We watched Rugrats Passover last night! Grandma Minka & Grandpa Boris are still the most accurate depiction of Jewish grandparents in the media
— Melissa (@tinyqueen99) March 26, 2021
Jewish grandchildren get it.
throwing a passover seder this weekend for the fellas and I’m so excited 🥺 it’s literally been years (and yes we will be watching the rugrats special)
— ⟡ claire (@claireisrad) March 24, 2021
What’s a Passover seder without watching the Rugrats Passover episode?
Rugrats passover has it all: The drama, the family bickering, the excitement of the night, the boredom of ritual, personality, culture, and an insider look at tradition.
— Sciconoclast (@Sciconoclast) March 26, 2021
The only thing that’s missing is finding the afikomen.
— jess (@jessbaroff) March 26, 2021
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