One of Nickelodeon’s flagship cartoons from the early ’90s, “Rugrats” told us about the childhood adventures of Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil and Angelica (and later Susie, Kimi and Dil). Equally important are Tommy’s parents, Stu and Didi. While Didi is a working mom, Stu is a stay-at-home dad.
Apparently a toy inventor, we get the impression that he was unsuccessful no matter how many times he announces each new invention as the toy that will “put Pickles Toys on the map”. But he makes a number of innovative and functional toys, including an advanced robot called Mr. Friend, a Reptar mechanical suit, a functional antigravity park, and a remote-controlled flying car, among others.
What kids might not have noticed is that he is the perfect example of a freelance creative professional: he works from home, his creative spark comes and goes, and he suffers from creator blocking episodes. This all comes to a head in the episode “Stu Gets a Job”, when he is stuck on a new idea and money is tight. He takes a job as a salesperson for Consolidated Lard, lamenting that he is now a “salaried slave”.
It’s clear to adults that Stu isn’t cut out for the rigidity of a traditional day job, even though he’s a creative genius. But he still manages to push his inventions forward: he left Consolidated Lard when he made a breakthrough on his latest invention, the Bubblerama 3000.