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Betty tackles pandemic-era New York City in Season 2

  • "With their feet rooted to their boards and an ability to whoosh in any given direction, they exist as both abiders and defiers of gravity, as the visual definition of freedom," says Jen Chaney. "That was the case in season one of Betty and in Moselle’s 2018 movie Skate Kitchen, which inspired this HBO series. It’s also true in Betty’s second season, which arrives on Friday. But as in the real New York — and the whole world — this time, freedom comes with caveats. The six vibrant new episodes of Betty take place in the late summer and fall of 2020, which means the pandemic’s presence is very much felt. Many of the characters wear masks, although one wishes they would wear them more consistently indoors and in close proximity to others. Perhaps for the sake of capturing the actors’ expressions on-camera, the face coverings often dangle around the chin instead of protecting mouths and nostrils. There are references to PPE loans being denied, leases being terminated, and COVID violations in progress. In the first episode, Indigo (Ajani Russell), who’s working at a grocery store, gets into an altercation with a white customer who refuses to wear a mask, claiming she has a 'medical condition.' This lady is one iPhone video away from being called out as a Karen on social media, and her behavior prompts Indigo to quit and try to make money through means that require even more moral compromises on her part."


    • Betty is as scrappy and charming as ever in Season 2: "Season Two of Betty, the warm and irresistible HBO dramedy about a group of female skateboarder friends, was filmed and takes place in those cold, harsh New York months when the city was largely shut down due to the pandemic," says Alan Sepinwall. "On the one hand, this turn of events clears out the streets for the women to skate together, and the show’s creator and chief director Crystal Moselle takes full advantage, filming the city with just her characters rolling through it like it’s their own playground. On the other hand, life during Covid makes it even more complicated for each member of the group to find what she’s looking for —  especially since so much of what these skaters care about exists in spaces controlled by men, now more than ever. It’s a messy state of reality that former documentarian Moselle is well-equipped to capture."
    • Season 2 shows Betty characters evolving: "Most of the groundwork laid for the characters in season one becomes fully actualized in season two and viewers get to see substantial development and growth," says Shanicka Anderson. "The Camille we met last season has matured. No longer content to sell her friends out for acceptance into exclusive all-male skate spaces, Camille is fiercely loyal in season two and willing to stand up for herself and stay true to her image—even if it means giving up some crucial clout on skateboarding Instagram."
    • How the reaction to Betty Season 1 impacted its stars for Season 2: "You have to believe in yourself," says Nina Moran. "This show about a bunch of female skaters has made us role models for other girls. People come to me and say, 'I started skating because of the show.' For me personally, I want girl skaters to take away that if they want to skate, they can skate. Nothing should hold them back" Rachelle Vinberg adds: "The show is about making sure you’re true to yourself. With my character, Camille, in both seasons, she’s figuring out who she is and who she cares about. I think that’s a part of growing up: You come into yourself and realize, Oh, maybe I don’t wanna hang out with these people — maybe these other people will treat me better and like me for who I am without having to put on so much of a show."
    • Betty stars on what shows they'd like their characters to visit: "I want Honeybear to be in Law and Order: SVU! You can do that, it’s the same city and everything," says Moonbear, who asked Dede Lovelace: "What about that show on HBO that you like, with the older guy? He’s bald, Larry something?" Lovelace responded: "Oh Curb Your Enthusiasm? Nooooo. I mean, yeah, like a day in the life would make sense."
    • Betty costume designer Cristina Spiridakis on tackling "inherent gender bias" in skating looks: “Especially designing a show like this, it becomes so clear how different the women’s lines are,” Spiridakis tells Variety, referencing the haul of free, but not functional clothes Camille receives in exchange for branded social media posts. “I think a lot of brands tend to not think that women have to move in the same way as men to skate. The pants are all incredibly tight, and it’s tons of crop tops.”

    TOPICS: Betty, HBO, Cristina Spiridakis, Dede Lovelace, Moonbear, Nina Moran, Rachelle Vinberg, Costume Design