If you were gay and a kid in the ’90s, you were lucky to have Nickelodeon on the tube. Not only did the classic kids network dish out quirky shows that hold up well (particularly The Adventures of Pete & Pete), but it gave you bizarre, unconventional, one-of-a-kind characters who could be your friends, no matter how ridiculous or cartoonish they were. Sometimes, Nick’s characters were seemingly tailor-made for gay audience acceptance, and that’s why we’re assembled here today in this blessed Pride month: to remember 25 of Nickelodeon’s ’90s heroes (in the pre-Spongebob era) who guided us through childhood like Kirk Fogg ushering Purple Parrots past Temple Guards.
Charlotte Pickles, The Rugrats
Alanis Morissette has a song called “One” where she describes “a sexy treadmill capitalist,” and that’s exactly the archetype Charlotte Pickles embodied. As Angelica’s alpha CEO mother, Drew’s domineering wife, and Jonathan’s fearsome queen, Charlotte was the kid version of Faye Dunaway in Network. Yes. I want that report NOW, Jonathan! (And praise be to Tress MacNeille, the legendary voice actress who gave Charlotte her boardroom bravado.)
Lori Beth Denberg was a gifted joke-teller (Vital Informaton, anybody?), wild sketch actress, and even a kickass game show panelist if you remember her Arlene Francis-like work on Figure It Out. Her priority was always getting the laugh, but she exhibited a real intelligence that (I’m hoping) was the envy of all her fellow cast members.
4. Merv, Welcome Freshmen
Merv. Merv is his name. Because “Griffin” would’ve been too subtle. This gregarious, funny chap on Nickelodeon’s most under-discussed foray into high school hijinks (the show shifted from sketch comedy to regular storylines midway through its run), Merv was a dramatic, readably queer kid who made gay kids feel like people, and he loved filmmaking (remember Merv-U-mentaries?). Let us venerate this icon by drawing hearts on his locker!
3. Bebe Bluff, Doug
Yes, oh yes. Bebe was the pride of Doug Funnie’s otherwise humdrum world, a purple rose of rage and riches. Hell, the town was named for her family. Hell, she is the Lisa Turtle of this show. Fashionable, swanky, deadpan, and willing to roll her eyes at anything. On the ABC version of Doug, her high school was shaped like her face. That is Cleopatra-level exaltation.
2. Clarissa Darling, Clarissa Explains It All
Clarissa is a gay icon for one unavoidable reason: She invented her own world and lived in it. What gay kid can’t relate to that? She loved computers, talking out her day’s issues, and collecting kooky stuff like pet alligators and hubcaps. For a kid, she was mightily self-possessed. And you had to love, love, love her theme song. That’s right. Now you’re humming it. Right now. Nuh-nuh-NA-NA-na-NA!
1. Angelica Pickles, Rugrats
Ferocious, funny, unrestrained, dominant, and three years old. Angelica was the doyenne of the playpen, a total brat who literally received coal in her Christmas stocking one year. She was both a nemesis and an old softie, and that’s what I like in my gay icons. As the Lucy Van Pelt of Nickelodeon, she remains the network’s defining (and most hilarious) superstar character.
Others at the source -- Pete & Pete, Ren & Stimpy, Ahh! Real Monsters! and others
Amanda please! is on the list lol