You’re pretty astute for a fourth grader.
One of the MANY MANY MANY heart-breaking details about Helga is that she IS smart. Heck, she’s BRILLIANT! She’s well versed in the arts (like in this photo set here), she can and does read WELL beyond the fourth grade level and writes volumes and volumes of poetry. She could have one the spelling bee if she didn’t intentionally take a dive to stick it to her dad and do Arnold a solid. Her anonymous poem won the school wide poetry contest. She’s remarkably intelligent and talented!
…But how many times do we hear her compare herself to her sister or to Lila as “Okay so maybe I’m not smart, pretty, funny, popular or nice like Lila/Olga?” Despite the fact that she IS just as smart if not smarter than the both of them? How many times do we hear her compare herself to her best friend Pheobe - who if we are honest, will admit is more STUDIOUS than intelligent. And how many times do we hear her say “Maybe if I was prettier/nicer/smarter Arnold would like-like me back?”
Helga was raised being constantly compared to her older sister. She’s been told so many times, directly and indirectly that she’ll never be as good or worthy of attention and affection as Olga. And there’s a part of her that believes this. She’s a 9 year old girl - and she believes she’s never going to be smart enough to be noticed. That’s why she resorts to bullying tactics, because negative attention is better than no attention at all.
Helga may be one of my favorite characters ever. Shes not abused… at least not directly. She’s just overlooked and never noticed, and in the end she becomes outwardly bitter and mean cause shes been hardened by the fact her parents just shrug her off like a itch.
I’m still convinced Helga Patacki was the real protagonist of that show.
Wasn’t there plans to make a middle school/high school series starring Helga? That would have been a good series.