'Betty' Premiere Review: The 'Skate Kitchen' spin-off opens on a bleak note but is saved by its cinematography
The visual style may be the most alluring aspect of the show if you take away the dire need to make weed-smoking an essential part of the characters
Spoilers for 'Betty' Episode 1 'Key Party'
The premiere of 'Betty' hits you with the interactive cinematography set in rushed New York city with teenagers exhibiting their audacious personalities. Filmmaker Crystal Moselle seems to have a specific cinematic voice with realism portrayed to the tee, but have taken away from the slight need of fiction to gain and maintain the interest of her audience. Her debut with the movie 'Skate Kitchen' (2018) is a crutch heavily used in this series, it seems like a sequel with a style just as compelling as the movie. The narrative though seems to lack a base construct, but hey, this is only the first episode, maybe we find out more - you know, other than pot smoking and missions to get back a lost phone.
The members of the all-girl skating crew include Camille (Rachelle Vinberg), Lothario Kirt (Nina Moran), Indigo (Ajani Russell), Honeybear (Moonbear), and Janay (Dede Lovelace) with a unique tenacity attached to each of them. As Janay and Kirt attempt to pull together an all-girls skate session, we are quickly pulled into the gender dynamic that the series is set to move on to - from it's an allusion to creepy old men commenting at young girls to how these girls fare in a fairly male-centric sport.
The realistic niche in which the series seems to be built may be appreciated by a younger audience that could relate to the personalities of the characters. From their dramatics and what we find, an over-exaggeration of characteristic bites, they are still characters tweens can be drawn to. It seems that the characters were not to be burdened with a heavy script rather and so are given the freedom to construct and form a narrative that seems like a vlog shot in sepia tone.
While that may be a theme that could easily gain traction, the premiere episode failed to set the crooks of each of the characters - we couldn't find a dent that would want us to see more. With writers such as Moshe Kasher, Lesley Arfin, and Patricia Breen, we were set up to expect hilarious scrip morbidity yet, in turn, it seems exaggerated to fit a highly stereotypical narrative of the streets of New York. The visual style may be the most alluring aspect of the show if you take away the dire need to make weed-smoking an essential part of the characters need to be alluring themselves. We were robbed of the foundation of the characters, that we would have excepted charisma from.
This was the first of the six episodes that are to be aired, and the idea that each of these characters will serve a purpose isn't too daunting. It seems as though further exploration may have the potential to draw out a better narrative that may not have to burden the visual impact but can bring to the forefront a story that we'd want to see continue.
'Betty' airs on HBO on Fridays at 11 pm EST .