The iconic Nickelodeon series Rugrats is getting a contemporary makeover for the reboot which includes Phil and Lil’s mom, Betty DeVille, being queer. Actress/director Natalie Morales (Plan B, Parks & Recreation) is voicing Betty in the CG-animated series on Paramount+ that premiered May 27 and she confirmed that the mom of two is out and proud. Morales, who is of Cuban descent, also identifies as queer and she told the A.V. Club that Betty was an influential character in her youth. The 36-year-old is of the generation that grew up watching the original series that premiered on Nickelodeon in 1991 and ran for 9 seasons. The reboot follows the adventures of Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, Susie and Angelica – the core cast of beloved characters.
“Anyone who watched the original show may have had an inkling Betty was a member of the alphabet mafia,” she said. “Yeah, Betty is a fictional cartoon, 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.”
The publication shares some details about the new version of Betty including that she loves football, owns a café called Betty’s Beans, and she cracks jokes about her ex-girlfriends. Originally, Betty was married to soft-spoken Howard but he was rarely seen and it sounds like his character was so insignificant that they were able to remove him entirely from the Rugrats universe for the reboot. Another small change is that Betty, a vocal feminist, no longer has the woman’s gender icon on her sweater, instead it’s the Gemini symbol because she loves astrology and is the mother of twins, perhaps?
Morales wrote an essay on Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls website about identifying as queer and how she struggled with that identity having grown up in the Catholic church hearing negative comments about the LGBTQIA community. Now she’s fully embraced her bisexuality and it feels like a full circle moment to be able to voice Betty — a longtime gay icon — who is now an officially out character after having grown up watching the show.
“Betty is a single mom with her own business who has twins and still has time to hang out with her friends and her community,” Morales added. “And I think it’s just so great because 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.”