Photo courtesy Associated Press

HBO MAX Presents: Betty

Skateboarding meets five young women in the American television series Betty, a spinoff of the independent film Skate Kitchen that highlights female skateboarding culture in New York City through the lens of an all-girl skate group.

Crystal Moselle, the highly respected creator and director of both the film and television series, brought together the movie’s main characters again for the spinoff, which produced two seasons with a total of 12 episodes filmed between 2020 and 2021. The show was a tremendous success and received excellent ratings in its first season. HBO has since approved the show for a second season. The show can also be streamed on other platforms such as Amazon Prime and Hulu.

The show, set and filmed in New York City, centers on an all-girl group of skateboarders who are extremely passionate about recreation and are determined to pave a way for female skateboarders within the predominantly male skateboarding scene in New York. Each character presents qualities that make them very distinct from one another; the way each of them dress, to the way they land tricks. This sense of individuality that is captured within each cast member is what sets the tone for the show and naturally ties them together as a group. The show has such a natural, laid-back approach that at times it feels less like a fictional series and more like watching the everyday lives of these young women take place.

Similar to the film’s indie style of cinematography, the show has a particular way of capturing light, composition, and angles during scenes with certain characters. All-natural lighting is a major part of the way the show was filmed. Most scenes take place outside during daylight and which serves as a useful tool because of the constant motion. Behind the scenes, camera operators caught a lot of the series skateboarding on skateboards themselves to really focus on stunts. Filming with this technique offers the audience a real point of view into the practice that goes into skateboarding and the injuries that may follow. This makes for a visually authentic experience as a viewer of the show.

The show delivers a variety of tracks that mesh well with the overall charisma, energy of the characters, and events that are featured in the soundtrack. Popular mainstream artists such as A$AP Rocky, Doja Cat, Kendrick Lamar, and Drake guest star on the show. There is the use of Lo-fi-inspired instrumentals and music from various underground indie artists. There are also different tracks that are used when certain characters get screen time and the use of these tracks creates tension between characters.

Betty appeals to a younger audience, especially those who skateboard and are familiar with skateboarding culture. That doesn’t mean that those who find themselves outside of those parameters won’t find something in the show that they find interesting or even relatable. There is a lot to laugh at and even more to appreciate about the way this show was constructed by the director and writers. The authenticity of the characters and events that take place, the cinematography, soundtrack, and storyline of the show are enjoyable and simplistic. This is the kind of show that doesn’t require a heavy plot to get the viewers’ attention. It’s lighthearted, fun, and amusing.



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