By David T. Valentin
Parmount+ is gearing up for a Rugrats CGI reboot, dropping promotional trailers and posters all over the internet. And while we’re not quite sure it’ll end up with the other disappointing reboots (I’m looking at you, Powerpuff Girls), the newest trailer isn’t what’s getting people talking. Instead, it’s Betty, (Phil and Lil’s mom) who will be portrayed as a lesbian for the reboot which was confirmed by the new voice actor of the character, Natalie Morales.
A baggy, purple sports looking shirt, cuffed pants, sweatband, wristbands and all, many people who watched the original Rugrats might just push Betty off as perhaps your traditional female gym teacher—athletic, vocal and incredibly optimistic. With the symbol for female branded on to her shirt, her and her relationship with her husband, Howard Deville, might just come off as a subversion of tropes—a more masculine woman and a more effeminate husband.
But those who are queer might recognize Betty as somewhat of a lesbian butch icon; a woman who embraces her more masculine side and doesn’t take any nonsense from anybody. And even in the presentation of her children, who seem tomboyish and have less gendered defined features like long hair and what not, may shed some hints of Betty raising her kids to embrace whichever gender expression they so choose.
As actor Natalie Morales jokes, the newest voice for Betty in Paramount+’s reboot, “Anyone who watched the original show may have had an inkling Betty was a member of the alphabet mafia.”
Morales, who you might recognize as Lucy, came out in the Summer of 2017 as queer. The 32-year-old actor has explained in the past she prefers to label herself as queer because for her “What queer means to [her] is just simply that I’m not straight.”
Natalie Morales weighed in on the importance of representation in children’s animation and her own personal journey growing up.
“And yeah, Betty is a fictional cartoon,” Morales said, “but even 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.”
Of course a small, vocal conservative group of people are outraged by Paramount+’s decision, one video even going so far as to post a whole rant titled “Alphabet Sex Cult Strikes Again – Rugrats Reboot Turns Phil & Lil’s Mom into A Gay Single Mom.”
Not only is such commentary like that incredibly ignorant of the importance of representation in children shows, but it’s also an unnecessary mouthful of gibberish.
But regardless of what anyone might say in protest of the decision, as us queers know, the cuffed pants were kind of the same as her running around with a limp wrist. And all things considered, her husband was also pretty gay. If I had watched Rugrats knowing everything I know now about queer representation and identity, I honestly would’ve thought Betty and her husband Howard were just two queer best friends who happened to marry for insurance purposes and decided to become co-parents to two twins.