HBO’s Betty is a show that’ll make you feel like you’re spending summer at a Brooklyn skatepark with a group of cool, rag-tag girl skateboarders—instead of, ya know, being at home. The feel-good six-episode series follows Janay, the opinionated leader of the group, and her hilarious backward cap-wearing friend Kirt, as they form a collective of diverse young women skaters. From shredding at the skatepark (where the boys are eager to let them know they’re not welcome) to the shenanigans they find themselves in, the show leads you on an adventure with a cast that looks very different from male-driven skater stories like Mid-90s. The women of color and queer identities represented not only form a collective, but also a bond so grounded in women’s friendship that it gives the show a strong feminist undercurrent.
Loosely based on creator Crystal Mosselle’s 2018 film Skate Kitchen, Betty captures a subculture within a subculture—women skaters. Just the name of the series alone provides a commentary on the male-dominated world of skateboarding. Mosselle speaks on the connotation of the word, saying, “[Betty] used to only be used for surfers. Then it kind of transformed into like a girl who hangs out with skaters and surfers. Back in the day, we called them ‘pro hoes,’ so we’re reclaiming that word. Like, ‘Oh, you’re going to call me a skate betty? Then, let’s skate.’”
The show also isn’t afraid to tackle difficult subjects like sexism, racism, and classism. The young women frequently encounter sexism in the sport, as they’re talked down to by the boys that frequent the park (leading to a few scuffles with Kirt) and are (literally) not invited to the boys skate club. #MeToo is also discussed as Janay finds herself caught in the middle of harassment allegations against her ex-boyfriend and friend Donald.
Though skateboarding has always been seen as a counterculture, it hasn’t done much to shake up the status quo as a dude-dominated sport. But Betty is doing just that. The series not only shows women killing it on their boards but also doesn’t steer away from showing the hardships they face as minorities in skateboarding culture.
Take Action! Watch all six episodes of Betty now on HBO.