Watching 90s Nicktoons on Paramount Plus is still a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon. From Rugrats to Doug and Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, no matter what classic show you pick, you’re sure to have a good (and nostalgic) time.
While it was just as “fun” as other iconic 90s Nicktoons, Hey Arnold! had a very serious undertone that was hard to miss. It’s even more noticeable if you watch the show back now as an adult.
One clip from a Christmas special that aired during the show’s first season is currently going viral. And for good reason. It’s one of the more heartbreaking moments to take place on any episode of any Nickelodeon TV show ever.
In the scene, we get the backstory for Mai, Mr. Hyunh’s long-long daughter. Mai was given away by Mr. Hyunh to American soldiers during the Fall of Saigon in 1975.
There was only room for one person on the helicopter and Mr. Hyunh decided to make that sacrifice to give Mai a chance at a better life.
Fast forward, Mr. Hyunh and Mai are now reunited in America, thanks to Helga and Mr. Bailey, in this episode titled “Arnold’s Christmas.” It’s one of the deepest, most chilling moments in the show’s history, to say the least.
Hey Arnold! Tackled Adult Themes on Purpose
This particular scene wasn’t the only time Hey Arnold! tackled adult themes. In an interview with The Pop Insider, show creator Craig Bartlett discussed how that was something that he wanted to make sure he did with the show.
“I think a main theme of the series is that to a kid, the world can sometimes not make any sense, and things can be sad, or ugly, and Arnold (and everyone else, in their own way) tries to make something better out of it,” Barlett recalled.
“And another theme is disappointment—you may try and try, but you can barely make a tiny improvement. But you try anyway. That was our aesthetic,” he said.
“And yes, I do think it’s one of the reasons that our audience liked it — because it reminded them of real life in a way that other kid shows didn’t.”
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