‘Rocko’s Modern Life’ movie on Netflix will have a prominent trans storyline

Rocko's Modern Life

Netflix is rebooting the classic 90s Nickelodeon cartoon Rocko’s Modern Life with a movie that will feature a prominent trans character.

The popular animated children’s show aired from 1993 to 1996 and follows the adventures of an Australian wallaby named Rocko. It will be returning for a 45-minute special episode on Netflix on Friday (August 9).

The episode is titled “Static Cling” and will focus on the character of Rachel, the child of Mr. and Mrs. Bighead, who was known as Ralph in the 90s cartoon.

Series creator Joe Murray told EW: “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 change.

“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.”

When he was approached by Nickelodeon to make the rebooted episode, Murray was initially cautious. “It had to be the story that I want to do and not watered down. I was concerned about that,” he said.

He recalled a 1996 episode called “Closet Clown” which was written as an allegory for a gay person’s coming-out experience at a time when children’s TV shows were restricted from showing such content.

“We were still playing by the rules, so to speak, and still trying to interject those situations [into the cartoon],” he admits.

The prominent trans story arc in the cartoon’s latest episode reflects a move towards more LGBT+ visibility in children’s entertainment.

Notable examples are Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe, which includes lesbian, intersex and non-binary characters, and PBS’s Arthur and Friends, which recently showed a gay rat wedding.

‘Steven Universe’ characters Ruby and Sapphire get married. The show was given a GLAAD award for Outstanding Kids & Family Programming and has developed a cult following among adults and children alike (Cartoon Network)

In creating the special “Static Cling” episode, Nickelodeon consulted with GLAAD’s director of transgender representation, Nick Adams. He told EW: “It tells a beautiful — and hilarious — story about accepting change.

“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.”

The special episode is available to watch from August 9 and will reunite all the classic characters including Rock, Heffer and Filburt.