For us Nostalgia Nancys who spent many a Saturday afternoon with our eyes glued to the beauty of ’90s Nickelodeon animation, Rugrats is a familiar word. The second-ever Nicktoon (after Doug – also a modern-day classic), Rugrats told the story of four babies (later six, after the addition of the characters Dil and Kimi) and two toddlers who created a world of their own around their respective parents. The more well-known of these two toddlers was Angelica Pickles, who was a badass in her own right. She was the Lucy van Pelt for the ’90s girl, complete with a sassy comeback for any situation and a toy collection that would make even a baby Blair Waldorf seethe with petty jealousy.
But the unsung toddler hero of Rugrats is, in my opinion, the criminally underrated Susie Carmichael. The Betty to Angelica’s Veronica, Susie represented everything Angelica wanted to be deep down and therefore elicited the worst envy-fueled treatment from Angelica. But regardless of this, Susie still held her head high, as well as an outstretched hand to her spoiled frenemy to continually teach her what real friendship meant. She was always there with a wise word for the babies, and provided an amazing foil to Angelica that still has us wondering why she doesn’t get the credit she deserves in pop culture.
Here are all the reasons we still love Susie, and why she’s the focus of 2016’s first #WCW!
She brought the sass without the meanness
Like her counterpart Angelica, Susie commanded respect of those around her – namely the babies (Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, Kimi, and Dil). She was outspoken and smart, and the babies saw her as someone who knew how the world worked. But unlike Angelica, Susie cracked her competitive, passionate, ambitious whip while also making sure she found the time and made the effort to be kind – a lesson she worked throughout the series to pass on to Angelica (and many times did succeed in doing).
She was super smart, as well a talented performer
Susie had many interests, but one that stands out in my mind is that she wanted to be a doctor, which is a huge undertaking as an adult let alone for the mind of a toddler. Her compassionate nature and intelligence convinces me that she definitely worked in medicine when she grew up. Susie was also really well-rounded, showing talent for both singing and dancing. I’d be jealous, too, Angelica. I get it.
She was extremely supportive of her younger friends
Even though she was only three years old, Susie was really mature for her age. Personality wise she could’ve passed for six, easy. Unlike most toddlers, she was concerned first with everyone around her and then with herself, making sure the younger kids were safe and accounted for and that they always knew they should believe in themselves. No wonder they worshiped her.
She was voiced by the illustrious Cree Summer
Cree Summer has been lending her pipes to animated characters since the 1980s (her first job was as Penny in Inspector Gadget), and Susie owes a lot of her greatness to Summer’s superb voice acting. Even just trying to give some of her work examples is difficult to do, considering she has so much to choose from. Chances are if you’ve ever watched animated TV, you’ve heard Cree Summer. A legend, indeed.
Her wardrobe is basically what we wear today, as adult women, in 2016
I am 100% sure I own pretty much an exact replica of Susie’s most commonly worn outfit. Ballet flats, a dress with a bright-colored print, and red lipstick (um, you go girl)? Did the Rugrats animators know what was coming as far as 2010s women’s fashion or what? Either way, I’m not saying I’m going to dress up as Susie for a normal work day and see if anyone notices, but I’m also not saying I won’t.
She contributed to awesome minority representation on children’s television
Susie and her family the Carmichaels, as well as Kimi and her mother Kira, were fantastic inclusions in Rugrats because they were strong characters who also happened to represent a minority. The show was also great at telling the stories of different cultural practices, such as Hanukkah at one point and the Carmichaels celebrating Kwanzaa. This dedication to representing children from different backgrounds and of different races is one of the biggest reasons I still love Rugrats, and Susie, to this day.