The ’90s were a special time. Before the reign of social media and cell phones and Instagram, it was the little things that lit up our hearts and entertained us for hours. Who are we to deny that cartoons were at the top of the list? Our favorites featured a bunch of babies, a cat-dog hybrid, and of course, a boy with a football-shaped head. We’ve always loved Hey Arnold! for a variety of reasons, but now we have a new one, and that’s because the character of Helga G. Pataki was inspired by young Frida Kahlo. Now, it all makes sense. The unibrow, the hair, the bow; they were all inspired by the Mexican artist, which only makes us love Helga even more!
Craig Bartlett, the creator of the show, confirmed Helga’s inspiration recently in an interview with El Estímulo. The good news is you don’t have to be a detective to see how true this is. Although Helga’s pigtails were Craig’s invention, the other staples of Helga’s look are totally reminiscent of Frida, which is pretty remarkable considering the artist was an activist and communist — totally not who you think a character in a children’s show would be modeled after.
So yes, Helga can be over-the-top, obsessive, and downright mean, but we know she does it all in the name of love. And that’s not too far off from Frida herself. Inspired by pain and love alike, the surreal artist has left a mark on the world, and Helga Pataki herself proves that!
Now we’re even more excited to watch Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie, which is out on Thanksgiving. Until then, we’ll be rewatching the show, taking note of all the times we witness Helga channeling her inner Frida.