Ralph Bighead will be known as Rachel
Netflix’s upcoming Rocko’s Modern Life special will prominently feature a trans character and storyline.
Joe Murray, creator of the popular ’90s animated series, confirmed that the new 45-minute episode – titled Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling – will include that story arc, which picks up decades after the original Nickelodeon show ended in 1996.
He also revealed that the character Ralph Bighead, the child of Ed and Bev Bighead, now identifies as Rachel after transitioning from male to female, according to Entertainment Weekly.
“When I started writing [Static Cling], I really started latching onto the idea of change, and how society has changed and what’s gone on in the last 20 years and the development of our characters and how they would react to [it],” Murray explained.
“It felt natural, because it was not only about change, about somebody finding who they are and making that courageous choice to go through that change.”
Murray, who will return to voice Ralph (now Rachel) in the Netflix special, consulted with GLAAD director of transgender representation Nick Adams while writing the episode. Adams has described the trans arc’s addition as “beautiful”, “hilarious” and, crucially, “needed”.
“The younger characters accept Rachel immediately; recognising she’s still their friend. And while Rachel’s father is slow to accept change within his own family, even he realises that loving your child should be unconditional. This story of inclusion and acceptance is so needed in our current climate,” he told EW.
Static Cling follows Rocko and his pals Heffer and Philbert adjusting to changes on their return to Earth after spending more than 20 years in space. Upon hearing that The Fatheads – the wallaby’s favourite (fictional) television programme, created by Rachel – has been cancelled, he sets off on a mission to find her and put the show back on the air.
Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling will be available for streaming on Netflix this Friday (August 9).