The rebooted CGI version of Rugrats depicts Betty DeVille, Phil and Lil’s mom, as an openly gay woman, as confirmed by Betty’s voice actor Natalie Morales. In addition to changing her sexuality, Paramount+ decided to change Betty’s ethnicity. She’s now a single Latina mother of two, owns a business and doesn’t mind making jokes about her ex.
According to Bounding Into Comics, Paramount+ decided to give Betty DeVille a complete makeover – once a married, strong-headed, vocally feminist woman is now a single mother of twins, owns a business, and cracks jokes about her ex-girlfriend. Betty DeVille’s voice actress, Natalie Morales, stated that the fans of the original series might have had some suspicions Betty was a member of the “alphabet mafia” – original gay and LGBTQ+ brand, which only goes to show how old the original Rugrats series actually is (it started in 1991).
The new and improved Betty DeVille is now a single mother of two, owns a café called Betty’s Beans, loves football, and loves making jokes about her ex-girlfriend. Regardless of her busy schedule, Betty still gets to hang out with her friends and her community. This is a significant change from the old Betty we saw in the original Rugrats cartoon, where she was depicted as a strong-headed extrovert and a vocal feminist woman, married to Howard – a timid and reserved man who was basically her polar opposite. Now, for the million-dollar question – why introduce such a change to an already established character?
Well, there are several reasons as to why this change might be beneficial. The readership might be inclined to believe Paramount+ changed Betty’s sexuality in the new Rugrats based on the dismissive stereotype that any woman who shows even a bit of masculinity must be a lesbian. However, that’s far from the truth. Paramount initially intended to diversify the cast of characters, and Betty’s sexuality and ethnicity are just some of the changes Paramount+ introduced – even the secondary cast of characters is more diverse.
The other reasons behind character diversification are explicitly made to fill audiences’ needs and social frameworks in 2021. The original characters are 30 years old, and some of the show’s social satire doesn’t feel right today. For example, Grampa Lou is now a Woodstock veteran, instead of World War II, and keeps a broader and more diverse group of friends he interacts with throughout the show. Changes like these help facilitate more representative stories for the audience, especially children, to help shift their perspective towards inclusiveness of different experiences and personalities.
Rugrats originally debuted in 1991, running for 65 episodes over three seasons, before coming to a halt in 1994. However, the show received a boost in ratings and popularity thanks to constant reruns on children’s television, which prompted its continuation in 1997. The original Rugrats aired its final episode in 2004 after 172 episodes over nine seasons. The new Rugrats show focuses on childhood, adventures, and the struggles of growing up in 2021, much like the original did for its time.