The Rugrats revival coming to Paramount+ is drawn in 3-D, but that isn’t the only way it’s being brought into the 21st century. As The A.V. Club first reported, Phil and Lil’s mom Betty has been reimagined as a single mom who happens to be a lesbian. She’s voiced by Natalie Morales, star of Abby’s and known for recurring parts in Parks and Recreation and Dead to Me.
Originally, Betty had a dull husband named Howard, but in retrospect, it’s easy to view her as queer-coded: a former professional wrestler, she wore her hair short and her sweaters with a prominent ‘female’ symbol. As Morales put it, “anyone who watched the original show may have had an inkling Betty was a member of the alphabet mafia.”
Some things will be different — that ‘female’ symbol has been replaced with the astrological symbol for Gemini — but the core of the character will stay the same. And as Morales explained, fictional characters like Betty can make things a lot easier for real-life people. She said,
“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, 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. And 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.”