Ever since I started watching Rugrats, I have always thought Angelica wasn't as bad as she acted. Sure, I thought she wasn't always nice to the babies, and deserved to get in trouble for it. But, I never thought of her as a bad person at heart. As a child, I'd watch Angelica on TV, and wonder why she was so mean to the babies. I'm sure any person who is a fan of Rugrats has probably asked themselves, 'Why is Angelica such a brat?' Well, look no further, because I have a theory that may finally answer that question for all of us!
RUGRATS THEORY 1: The reason Angelica acts like a brat toward the babies (and in general) is because she's seeking attention from her parents, and feels like nobody really cares about her. In other words, she feels really insecure.
Now, I know some of you are probably thinking I'm crazy for even suggesting this (especially since Angelica seems like one of the most confident little girls to ever hit the television screen), but please, allow me to explain. To start off, we have to look at this theory from a psychological standpoint. Sometimes the way you're raised can affect your personality later in life. (Now, I'm saying that it can affect your personality, not that it always does. Bratty children can be raised in both loving and unloving environments. And some children who are raised in bad living situations are very kind.). I'd be willing to bet when Angelica was a baby, she tried to get her parents' attention more often than not. But, the sad reality for Angelica is, her parents are workaholics. Now, I'm not saying Drew and Charlotte Pickles are horrible parents who don't care about their child, because anyone who watches Rugrats can clearly see they want what's best for their daughter. Drew and Charlotte both love Angelica and want to raise her well. However, Angelica rarely gets any one on one time with her mom and dad because they're constantly busy with their jobs. If there's one thing that kids absolutely need, it's love and attention. And if a child feels that they aren't getting the love and attention they deserve, that child can start to act out in negative ways in order to get it.
Personally, I don't think Angelica bullied her cousin, Tommy Pickles, to start out with (Keep in mind, if you consider the episode Moving Away as fact, Tommy didn't know Chuckie Finster or Phil and Lil Deville until shortly before Tommy turned a year old. They met at a barbeque party at Tommy's house after his family had just moved in, and Angelica (sort of) introduced the babies to each other.). When Angelica first found out she was going to have a little cousin, I'm sure she was as excited as most other toddlers are when they find out there's going to be a new member of the family. Angelica was probably glad she was going to have a younger cousin to play with (After all, Angelica must have gotten lonely at times being the only child in the Pickles' family up until that point in time. Plus, we all know Angelica loves the babies deep down. In Moving Away, Angelica tearfully tells the babies they're her best friends when she thinks she and her family are moving.). And I'm positive she was just as thrilled when Tommy finally arrived. Unfortunately, this joy didn't last long. But, why? Why would Angelica go from being a sweet little girl one minute and suddenly become a bratty child the next?
Here is where my theory comes in. As Angelica continued to see more and more of Tommy, she began to see how different her little cousin's home life was compared to hers. Angelica eventually figured out at some point before Rugrats even started that Tommy consistently received more attention from Stu and Didi Pickles than she ever did from her own parents. When Angelica finally realized this, she started to become more and more jealous that Tommy got all of the attention, and started bullying him (and eventually the other babies once they came into Tommy's life) as a result. In short, Angelica feels like she will never be loved in the same way the babies' parents love them, so she constantly takes out her anger and frustration on the babies by bossing them around.
I also feel Angelica believes the babies don't like her. And no, I don't think she thinks this is due to her constant teasing and bullying. My guess is Angelica started to think Tommy was only tolerating her even before she started picking on him.
There is evidence that supports this theory. Now, this evidence isn't 'canon' so to speak, but it heavily implies that Angelica is an insecure child who feels she doesn't deserve to be cared about (despite the fact that she always claims she deserves everything).
First of all, Angelica always complains the babies receive all of the attention, feeling all the adults should focus on her instead of Tommy and his friends. If Angelica felt she was receiving the adequate amount of attention she deserves from her parents, why would she care about this?
Second, do you remember the episode Aunt Miriam back in season 2 of Rugrats? There is a bunch of subtext within that episode that you may or may not have noticed. One of the biggest realizations that came to me while watching this episode was Lou and Miriam are the adult versions of Tommy and Angelica. But, before I delve into this, let me refresh your memories just in case you don't remember the episode. Aunt Miriam, was the episode Miriam was first introduced (in case the title didn't make that obvious). Miriam came over to the Pickles' house to visit, and Lou Pickles wasn't thrilled about it at all because he claimed Miriam always picked on him when they were kids (There was even one story Lou told where Miriam had taken his favorite toy ball and threw it into the next yard. This story was similar to what had happened to Tommy in the episode Barbeque Story, the second episode of Rugrats. Miriam even mentioned Angelica reminded her of herself.). There were various other stories mentioned by both Lou and Miriam where they referenced previous episodes of Rugrats up to that point in the show's timeline.
Toward the end of the episode, Lou and Miriam are searching for Tommy and Chuckie (Tommy and Chuckie had escaped Tommy's crib that evening because the story plot of Aunt Miriam focused on Tommy and Chuckie trying to stop Miriam from hurting Lou. They thought she was an evil ant from outer space or something, but that's not important right now.). As they are trying to find the babies, Lou and Miriam return to arguing about their childhoods, probably for what seems like the millionth time in this episode. During this conversation, the mood becomes bittersweet. Lou tells Miriam he was terrified of her when they were little. Miriam, who is obviously surprised by this, tells Lou she didn't know he had felt that way. But, here's the real kicker. Miriam claimed the reason she bullied Lou and his friends was because all the other kids ever wanted to do was hang out with Lou. She explains she picked on Lou and his friends because she thought the other kids wouldn't want to play with her.
This scene is important when you think about Angelica's behavior. As I mentioned earlier, Miriam is the adult version of Angelica. So, this confession scene between Lou and Miriam heavily implies Angelica feels she's worthless in the babies' eyes. Thus, she decided to become aggressive toward the babies before they could even get the chance to reject her (Now, I know the babies rejecting Angelica for no reason is highly unlikely. But, three-year-olds aren't really known for thinking rationally. So, it's plausible Angelica believes she'll be rejected by Tommy and the other babies if she ever attempts to try being nice to her cousin.).
In conclusion, Angelica's bratty behavior began, and continues throughout Rugrats, due to her feelings of loneliness and insecurity. Her aggression is another way of crying out for help, and that is sad to think about.
So, now I want to know, what do you guys think? Do you agree with this theory? Do you disagree with it? Or do you have something else to add? Please let me know in the comments. I'd love to hear your thoughts! More Rugrats headcanons/theories will be posted soon!