Tommy: A Macca-baby’s gotta do what a Macca-baby’s gotta do.
Beware: Spoilers may follow.
The representation of Chanukah in television and film is certainly hard to come by much less in an authentic and genuine way. We have Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights but that film is quite notorious in its horrible storytelling and crude imagery alike. But what many people tend to overlook in the representations of Chanukah is the TV special simply titled a Rugrats Chanukah. For a show involving talking babies, it proves to be far more enjoyable and insightful than it deserves to be. It is a good way to introduce children to understand and relate to the holiday.
The story tells the story of Chanukah as heard by our main characters Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, and Angelica. Grandma Minka reads them a book about the holiday and the babies imagine themselves as the characters. Tommy is Judah while Chuckie, Phil, and Lil are the Maccabees.
While getting information about such an important holiday from a cartoon like this isn’t exactly the best source of credibility the special still hit some crucial notes such as Judah and the Maccabees’ rebellion and persecution under Antiochus. Rugrats couples this with some legitimately funny and smart moments that have been expected from the series.
For many children that grew up in the 90s, this was the first time they were exposed to the history. Youngsters are often very impressionable around the time they will see this and the visuals in this special prove have a deep and everlasting impact. The special successfully combines both the themes and the practices of Chanukah by having the characters make latkes, light menorahs, set aside rivalries, etc.
This special certainly isn’t groundbreaking but it proves to be a classic. It has a nice message about it being okay to be unique and different. While it won’t capture the attention of many adults it’s a great way to frame it for the kids. And when those kids grow up they can look back on it with fond memories and see the good that it did.