Throughout the pandemic, I know most people have been watching and consuming more content than ever, but I haven’t been. For whatever reason, I’ve been watching significantly less TV and movies. Those numbers are a bit on the rise these days (Hellllllllllo Umbrella Academy). Recently I came across a show that spoke to me: HBO’s Betty. A group of girl skaters? Please. Sign me the fuck up. I’m very sick of dudes right now, so this was perfect. I marathonned all available episodes of Betty (If you’re in Canada, you can watch it on Crave!)
I hadn’t heard of the series when I came across it, but it made me think of my youth and my obsession-with-surf-culture phase. From that, I was familiar with the term Betty, meaning a girl who surfs. (It must be noted that I have never touched a surfboard, but I have seen Blue Crush a lot of times). I’ve also heard it used in Clueless to mean a pretty girl. I’m going to go with either a combo, or with the surf slang because it makes more sense. Anyway, I digress.
HBO’s Betty is the story of a group of young women bonding over being the only girls at the skatepark. The series opens with two of the main characters, Kirt and Janay, coming to the skatepark for an “all-girls skate sesh” they posted about on Instagram. When they arrive, they see one other girl there, but she’s with a group of guys. Her name is Camille and she hadn’t heard about the sesh and doesn’t join them. Kirt and Janay notice another girl though, who is standing quietly with her board and a camera. Her name is Honeybear. She’s shy, but she joins them. Later, they meet another girl named Indigo and start teaching her to skate, too.
At first, I wasn’t entirely sold on the show. I liked the idea—fuck yeah, girl skaters—but I wasn’t totally sure about the plot. It didn’t seem to really to have one. It starts out slowly as the girls get to know each other and skate together. We follow them as they face the challenges of not only being the only girl skaters at the park but also being a girl in the world right now. They deal with being homophobia, sexual abuse, racism, misogyny, you name it. But Betty is more of an immersive experience. All issues unfold in a realistic way as you experience skater culture alongside these women. It’s not always thrilling or exciting (it’s not boring either), but it’s a very well-made series and it has something to say.
Although it has something to say about important issues, it’s not an issue-based show. When I had finished the first season, I realized that was one reason it felt slow at first and also why I found the show so genius. What happens happens so naturally. Even the more dramatic elements aren’t played up for melodrama. It feels like you met these girls at the first girl sesh and are getting to know them too. You’re not watching them, you’re there with them.
HBO’s Betty is the feminist show I needed right now. It’s not in your face, but it’s not afraid to get into real shit. If you’re into drama and action, maybe skip this one. But if you love a beautifully done, character-driven show with a little substance, check this one out! It’s super fun, too.
Off to watch Skate Kitchen now.