Women Belong in The Kitchen, The Skate Kitchen That Is – Part Three – A Deep Dive into Gender in ‘Betty’ (2020)

To Believe or Not to Believe:

People don’t want the truth. They just want a witch hunt.

#METOO. It’s the hashtag that ignited a conversation that was long overdue in the world: of the harassment and violations caused by men, and by the men in our lives who we did not think could be offenders. For Janay (Ardelia Lovelace), the revelation that Donald (Caleb Eberhardt), her ex and co-host of the hit YouTube series, “The Janay and Donald Show,” is implicated in a case of sexual harassment against a girl she knows, is too much to bear. Janay seeks to find out the truth from Donald, who denies it, stating that the comments are simply a petty attempt to get back at him for turning down romantic advances. Janay works to track down the source of the comments, who she later finds out is a girl by the name of Yvette (Jules Lorenzo), and who she ends up butting heads with along with her twin sister, Celia (Brenn Lorenzo). 

Following a brawl outside of the dive spot where Janay tracks down Yvette, Janay changes her mind and decides to approach Yvette in peace in order to hear her out on what happened between her and Donald. When the truth comes out, Janay’s stunned façade breaks. With Indigo (Ajani Russell) and Honeybear (Kabrina Adams) in tow, Janay declares that Yvette is telling the truth, noting, “He did the same to me.” It’s an ominous declaration of truth, as we notice Janay in Episode One (Key Party) note to Camille (Rachelle Vinberg) how, when she was young, there was a bus driver who would make flirtatious comments at her. This follows an interaction that Camille and her have with an elderly man who has misplaced his address and thanks the girls for finding it for him with an insistent kiss on Janay’s hand and a locked grip on her wrist.

Janay sits opposite Donald in a bedroom. They are in the middle of a discussion.
Image Courtesy of HBO

In hearing Yvette’s side of the story out and siding with her, especially after sadly experiencing the same situation with Donald, Janay confronts Donald regarding the truth. Donald’s attempts to escape the conversation by gaslighting Janay are derailed when Janay finally closes their YouTube channel and ends the run of their hit series together. Even after Donald attempts to confront Janay in the skate park as she is handing out flyers for an all-girl skate sesh, and tries to play the victim and guilt-trip Janay into helping him get better, Janay stands up for herself and removes herself from the situation by setting the boundary that she is not Donald’s solution or therapist. Through this and through Indigo and Honeybear’s support of Janay throughout the course of the season, Betty establishes the difficulty but necessity in cutting off friendships with those you can’t fix and are not responsible for helping, especially when implicated in sexual harassment or assault.

One of the Boys Girls

You know those Betties, don’t you?

“Betty.” Terminology that is given to girls that are spotted at skate parks, dress the part, but don’t actually skate. It’s a far cry from the female skaters of Betty, giving the show’s title an ironic twist, or a proper redemption for skater girls who have long been the minority in the world of skateboarding. Yet, for Camille, this version of skateboarding isn’t as appealing as hanging with the boys. When Kirt approaches her at the skate park wondering if she’s there for the all-girl skater sesh, Camille’s confusion and disinterest is palpable as she goes to skate with the rest of the boys, disregarding the female skaters until the yellow backpack gets stolen and she asks for their help to retrieve the bag. Even after helping her out, Camille’s ability to get into the exclusive Winter Bowl without a hassle does not allow the rest of the girls to enter the space, forcing her to leave them at the door in shock and betrayal. 

Camille is handing out with five male skaters at a park.
Image courtesy of HBO

As Camille continues to hang with the boys, even attempting to catch the eye of Bambi (Edmund Donovan), a skater boy who wishes to shoot Camille’s tricks, Kirt attempts to induct Indigo into the world of skateboarding, despite Indigo’s insistence that she doesn’t want to be ogled by male skaters. “I don’t feel like having thirsty ass skater dudes looking at me,” she declares, a statement that she extends on after she accidentally bumps into a male skater at the skate park, causing a fight to form between Kirt and the male skater. “Look, Indigo, I don’t want you to stop skateboarding. What happened at the skate park isn’t fair. When a girl runs into a boy, it’s a big fucking deal, but when a boy runs into a boy, it doesn’t even matter,” exposing the double standard that continues to exist between female-identifying skaters and male skaters. 

Though initially unphased by the female skater group, Camille gradually becomes disillusioned from wanting Bambi’s attention and begins to rely heavily on the girls, especially when it comes to getting feedback on the situation with Bambi. Not only do we see Camille distancing herself from the boys, but also Janay and Indigo. As Janay denounces Donald due to his repeat offense of sexual harassment and Indigo depends less and less on Farouk for company, the strength of the pact between the five girls grows stronger and stronger, culminating in the all-girls skater sesh whose heavy marketing brings forth girls all over the city to the skate park. Stunned by the turnout, the montage of female-identifying skaters that ensues is one of bliss and inclusion, female skaters of every shape and size, of all aesthetics and across the sexuality and gender spectrum, a bombardment of feminine power that flow like a bloodstream into the skate park filled with boys. In surging the system as it was once known, Betty establishes the presence of female-identifying skaters as more than a dream and not just a hope for future generations. It’s a present reality, one awaiting all who wish to join this calling of decks, trunks, and ollies. 

A large group of people skate across a bridge.
Image courtesy of HBO