Last Thursday saw the first batch of all new Rugrats episodes drop on Paramount+ and those episodes featured an update to the character Betty DeVille – reframing her as a gay, single mom. Many fans suspected that Betty was a queer-coded character in the cartoon’s original Nickelodeon run and further speculated that the new series affirm this when openly-queer actress Natalie Morales (Parks and Recreation, Abby’s) was cast in the role.
Betty DeVille, the mom to twin Rugrats Phil and Lil, is openly gay in Paramount+’s 3D reboot series. While many fans had assumed this was the case in the original show, it is now canon. ♀ pic.twitter.com/M3C8UMGrsM
— IGN (@IGN) May 28, 2021
While The A.V. Club spoke to Morales and confirmed Betty’s queer identity a few days prior to the reboot’s release, Thursday marked the first opportunity fans got to watch the all-new Rugrats on Paramount+. “I think it’s just so great,” Morales beamed to The A.V. Club about the opportunity to bring this kind of representation on-screen “examples of living your life happily and healthily as an out queer person is just such a beacon for young queer people who may not have examples of that.” Morales also spoke to the specificity of playing this character on a kid’s show “cartoons were hugely influential for me as a kid and if I’d been watching Rugrats and seen Betty casually talking about her ex-girlfriend, I think at least a part of me would have felt like things might be okay in the future” (The A.V. Club)
According to The A.V. Club, Betty joking about her ex-girlfriends is a significant character trait of the updated single mother, as is a love for football and balancing her small business with motherhood. Additionally, Betty’s iconic purple sweater – donning the female gender symbol – has been swapped for a Gemini astrology sweater, indicating she may have an interest in astrology.
“Betty makes jokes about her ex-girlfriends, which is as far as the series has gone to recognize her identity so far” Screen Rant says of Betty’s characterization in the series thus far “with only five episodes released, there is plenty of time to explore Betty’s character further.” If Paramount+’s Rugrats reboot proves successful, it could give the series further opportunities to explore Betty’s love life in future storylines.
Screen Rant posits that this confirmation of Betty’s queer identity signals a strong start for the Rugrats reboot as the series works to “align more with modern audiences.” Paramount+ has aimed to strike a balance between the nostalgia of the original Rugrats and the necessity for fresh stories that relate to a contemporary audience. The series’ has attempted to faithfully translate 2D characters into a CGI world and mixed returning, veteran voice actors with a brand new cast of adult characters such as Morales.
Actress and director @nataliemorales is wishing everyone a Happy #PrideMonth! She shares why #Pride is so important to her🏳️🌈#NatalieMorales‘ hilarious new movie, #PlanB, is now streaming on @Hulu! #PlanBHulu pic.twitter.com/lRPi1alqEr
— On The Red Carpet (@OnTheRedCarpet) June 1, 2021
The updates the Rugrats has made to its characters set the series firmly in the twenty-first century without straying too far from what endeared audiences to them in the first place. Even the choice to make Betty DeVille openly gay is not seen as that major of a change to discerning audiences, to whom the character has “low-key always been a queer icon” (The A.V. Club).
The first five episodes of Rugrats are now available on Paramount+, for those eager to see the other updates made to the classic series. A second batch of episodes will be coming soon, though an exact date has yet to be announced.