I recently fell back in love with Ugly Betty. I was kind of a ghost viewer when it was airing. I would watch one week and disappear the next, but I remember enjoying most of it. I especially have a fondness for the final season for reasons that I can’t explain yet, because SPOILERS (Don’t worry, we’ll get there), but because of that I’ve decided to review the entire series.
Ugly Betty was a comedic drama tv series that aired on ABC from 2006 to 2010. It follows Betty Suarez, a young writer who’s life dream is to work for magazines like TIME and The New Yorker. She applies to MEADE publications and is hired because the CEO doesn’t want Daniel Meade, the new Editor-In-Chief of the fashion magazine Mode and the heir to MEADE publications, to sleep with his assistant. This starts a heartfelt, four year story of family, friendship, fashion, and a deep look at standards of beauty.
Ugly Betty was based off of the Colombian telenovela Yo Soy Betty, la fea. The show stared America Ferrera in the titular role, and came out of the gate with flying colors. It won two Golden Globe Awards (“Best Comedy Series” and “Best Leading Actress in a Comedy Series” for Ferrera). Sadly, the third season of the show got a little weird (we’ll talk when we get there), so the show got cancelled, but it’s fourth and final season quickly re-found itself and I think ended on a good note.
Where to Watch:
Hulu (for Free*):
* Warning, when watching for free Hulu does have commercials. If this is a bother consider buying an account or asking a friend for his login info (Sharing is caring).
The Review (Spoilers Ahead):
As far as pilots go, Ugly Betty Season 1 is both good and bad for the same reason. The pilot decides to focus on the stories of Betty Suarez and Daniel Meade. She’s the girl from Queens who wears a bright red and green pancho to her first day of work at a fashion magazine. He’s the guy from a rich family who always has a woman around his arm and another in his bed. These two couldn’t be more different, but they work together.
The problem is that since the episode focuses on these two the rest of the cast becomes caricatures. Betty and Daniel got to be developed more than the rest of the cast in order to serve the pilot. To go with this, Mark, our gay character is nothing but full of stereotypes and clichés. In fact, he isn’t given many lines, so we can’t be sure of him being gay (besides the fact that I already know). The thing is he’s presented with so many stereotypes that the audience is supposed to know. It’s as if the show said “He’s white, effeminate, a little bitchy, and works in at a fashion magazine. Clearly we’re saying he’s gay!” And I don’t think that’s ok.
All that said, it is a pilot so it’s goal was to set up the characters and basic plot. The story will get better. One good thing about the pilot is the comparison of Betty’s world and the world of fashion. Betty comes from this homely and suffocatingly realistic world in Queens, and then to see her in the crazy world of fashion and Mode makes this show a home run. That alone kept me interested.
This episodes gets 3 out of 5 stars.