The “Rugrats” reboot — a 1990s Nickelodeon staple — features an openly gay main character, much to the chagrin of some viewers who say the move is “performative wokeness.”
The show’s reboot made its Paramount+ debut Thursday.
What are the details?
According to Newsweek, cast members said that the show’s new CGI version introduces a variety of diverse changes.
One character, Betty DeVille — mother of twins Phil and Lil — is now openly gay, for example.
In 2020, voice actor Melanie Chartoff, who voices another character, admitted of the reboot, “One of the characters is now a lesbian.”
Chartoff added, “Some of the characters are of different minority, ethnic minorities now. We had some before, now we’re going to have more. So it’s going to be a much more, I’d say, liberally intended show.”
Natalie Morales, the queer actress who voices Betty, told
The AV Club that she feels it’s only right for her character to be out.
“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 explained, “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.”
She added, “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 OK in the future.”
Rugrats | Official Trailer | Paramount+
What has been the response?
According to Newsweek, the news received mixed responses, and cited one fan who tweeted, “In the original, I knew she was gay but closeted but now she is openly gay!”
Another added, “Making Betty gay on Rugrats is just performative wokeness and I’m so tired. It was already subversive to have a woman who was not traditionally feminine married to a more effeminate male/SAHD. Erasing this is not nearly as progressive as making a new openly gay character would be.”
Another user on Twitter wrote, “I was today years old when I learned that Betty from Rugrats wasn’t always gay.”
Betty’s husband, Howard — who took a prominent role in the original ’90s show — is nowhere to be found in the new reboot.