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Ugly Betty aired from September 2006 until ? on ABC.
Betty ( America Ferrera) was plump, wore thick-rimmed glasses and dental braces and dressed in loud, mismatched colors. Just the sort fashion magazine CEO Bradford Meade ( Alan Dale) thought he should hire as an assistant for his womanizing son Daniel ( Eric Mabius), to stop Daniel from sleeping with the staff. Thrust into New York's world of high fashion at Mode, the " bible of the fashion industry," "ugly Betty" certainly stood out but her sweetness , honesty and common sense made her more valuable than Bradford had ever imagined. Handsome but inept Daniel had been promoted to editor in chief over glamorous , scheming creative director Wilhelmina ( Vanessa L. Williams), who was out to get him, and loyal Betty saved her boss' bacon more than once. Among the other blundering sharks and schemers swimming in Mode's ultrachic offices were Wilhelmina's flamboyant gay assistant/toadie Marc ( Michael Urie), their ally receptionist Amanda ( Becki Newton), and Daniel's mother Claire ( Judith Light). Another Wilhelmina ally was a bandage-wrapped "mystery woman" who turned out to be Daniel's missing brother Alex, who had undergone a sex -change operation and become glamorous Alexis ( Rebecca Romijn). Scottish seamstress Christina ( Ashley Jensen) was Betty's friend and coconspirator and Walter and Henry ( Kevin Sussman, Christopher Gorham) were Betty's geeky boyfriends. Seen Occasionally was rival editor Sofia Reyes ( played by the show's producer Selma Hayek).
Stories alternated between Wilhelmina's over-the-top schemes to take over the company ( she even tried to frame Bradford for murder) and Betty's comically dysfunctional home life. She lived in a Queens row house with her blue-collar father Ignacio ( Tony Plana), an illegal immigrant with some secrets in his own past, her sister Hilda ( Ana Ortiz) and Hilda's sweet tween son Justin(Mark Indelicato), who was so enamored of style and fashion that many assumed he was gay ( the producers wouldn't say).
Loosely based on the highly popular Columbia Telenovela ( soap opera) Yo say Betty, la fea ( "I am Betty, The Ugly").
A Review from The New York Times
ABC Bets on ‘Ugly Betty’
By VIRGINIA HEFFERNAN
Published: September 10, 2006
HOPING to claim a piece of the telenovela phenomenon, ABC may have inadvertently tapped into an even bigger trend this fall: ugliness.
Not real ugliness of course. Hollywood ugliness. But Hollywood’s standards of ugliness, like Hollywood’s standards of beauty, change. Remember Eliza Doolittle, with her ratty hair, tar-colored dress, smudged cheeks? Messy stood in for ugly in those days.
More recently movie actresses who have played women we’re told are ugly — Toni Collette (“Muriel’s Wedding”), Minnie Driver (“Circle of Friends”), Lili Taylor (“Dogfight”) — have gone on to play objects of desire. To pass as ugly, a woman is now typically about a size 10 among zeroes, with slightly smaller eyes and a bigger nose, proportionally, than a Hummel figurine. Thus, “ugly.”
And consider America Ferrera, the 22-year-old Honduran-American star of “Ugly Betty,” ABC’s charming and irrepressible mash-up of “The Devil Wears Prada” and the Colombian telenovela “Betty la Fea.” So lovely is Ms. Ferrera that she requires glasses, heavy bangs and bulky braces to suggest she’s homely. Even with all this, it’s going to be hard not to see her as a romantic lead, as she was in “Real Women Have Curves,” for which she won a best actress award at Sundance.
But Betty’s would-be ugliness has an incalculable upside for this actress. Think of it: she won’t have to devote vast reserves of psychic and physical energy to being pretty all the time, which means she’ll be at liberty to act. What a concept. She won’t be preoccupied with wardrobe, makeup, angles or lighting.
Better yet, she won’t be required to submit to the famous and ill-understood prime-time wasting disease that, in a single season, turned beautiful Ellen Pompeo of “Gray’s Anatomy” into a shadow. Sufficient nourishment can’t hurt an actress’s work, after all, and might even help.
“Ugly Betty” chronicles the life and times of a smart, sweet girl from Queens who goes to work as the assistant to the dashing editor in chief of a fashion magazine. A very real paradox of the Manhattan culture industry informs Betty’s situation: namely, English majors who dream of New Yorker-style literary lives often end up working at glossy magazines whose interests have become (or always were) debased, commercial and far from literary.
Why should Betty, a scholarly nerd who cares about Darfur and art photography, have to concern herself so urgently with the trivial lives of rich, vain couture people who haven’t read a book in years? Because the monthly magazines that still represent American letters to college kids are now run by many such people.
This on-screen fish-out-of-water story will, with any luck, work symbiotically with the equally sweet off-screen one: the story of America Ferrera getting a starring role in ABC prime time, where she’ll perpetually get to dominate the scenes she shares with slimmer, cuter girls. (In the pilot the sex bombs Vanessa Williams, Gina Gershon and Salma Hayek, who is the show’s canny executive producer, all play gross caricatures of glamour.)
Though she doesn’t starve herself or endure highlights and Restalyne injections, Ms. Ferrera will get all the close-ups, attention and praise. And more amazing still, no one will be able to begrudge her her success, all because she’s willing and able to star on a show called “Ugly Betty.” That’s a girl with a good head on her shoulders.
A Review from The New York Times
TV Review | 'Ugly Betty'
A Plucky Guppy Among the Barracudas
By VIRGINIA HEFFERNAN
Published: September 28, 2006
“Ugly Betty” is indeed cute. But she’s the new girl. Let’s not all pounce on her at once. It’s too much to ask of this mostly guileless, slightly ungainly series that it be another “Lost” or “Desperate Housewives” for ABC this year, so maybe we should watch aloofly, starting tonight. Let’s let Betty find her locker and her lunch table, and observe her without asking that she be more than she is.
Of course we can still gossip. This ABC melodramedy, which has attracted big attention both for being an American telenovela and for being funny and good, has a slight premise: an ungorgeous Latina goes to work at a fashion magazine. She’s hired by the father of the party-boy editor in chief because she’s too homely to tempt him into dissipation. Can this sitcom setup work in an hourlong format?
Seems dubious, but “Ugly Betty” is onto the doubts about it and stands ready to turn them into plot. As Betty Suarez, the sexy actress America Ferrera, here defaced by braces and bangs, sets her mouth, squares her shoulders and takes on the part like a linebacker. She’s bravely playing a character who’s coded as ugly, which means she’s still eating food, which is apparently about the bravest thing a television actress can do.
Nourished, braced, standing firm, Betty asks that the world come at her, and come it does: fink boyfriend, vain sister, ineffectual father, trampy neighbor. And that’s just in Queens, where she lives. In Manhattan, at the Vogue-like Mode magazine, Betty finds conniving executives, ruthless monomaniacs, strivers without principles, chubby clock watchers, Uriah Heeps and Iagos and the usual New York office crowd.
So who is Betty in the midst of these grotesques? She’s meant to be nothing but smart and good, though in life the two traits rarely fit perfectly together. And because she’s also “ugly” she’s assumed to have made the ultimate personal sacrifice in our vain world, and her intelligence and wholesomeness are meant to be not only absolute but perfectly compatible. This improbability causes some problems in characterization. The big joke of tonight’s episode is that Betty interprets the comeback of the poncho as permission for her to turn up at work in a red eyesore emblazoned with the word “Guadalajara.”
Naïve and touching, yes, but just to play devil’s advocate what kind of college graduate, as Betty is supposed to be, wears a gift shop poncho on her first day at work, thinking it’s what she’s seeing in magazines? This error is less evidence of a mind on higher things than it is a cognitive disability.
For a serious-minded girl not to understand couture or street-trash ensembles like the designs of Jeffrey Sebelia on “Project Runway” might be admirable. But for a literate, sentient, self-aware young woman to prefer bulky belted layers in clashing patterns and cacophonous shades of red and orange to (at least) the affordable A-line skirts and cotton button-downs at Old Navy or Target, that makes no sense. Commedia characterization on pseudorealist television can be exhausting: just as not every rich person has to wear an ascot, not every provincial girl has to dress like a mental patient.
Betty’s clothes, in other words, the most flamboyant side of her, have not been integrated into her character. They’re a free-standing gag, and that gag cannot last long. Whether there’s a show without that gag, though: that is the question.
Salma Hayek, an executive producer who will also appear sporadically on the show, adapted “Ugly Betty” from a Colombian telenovela called “Yo Soy Betty La Fea.” Ms. Hayek has an uncanny aptitude for blending comedy and melodrama, and she’s managed to infuse the show upstairs and downstairs with soapy fun. There’s a dark corporate plot at Mode, and outrageous catfights in Queens. The ambience of telenovela is everywhere, and conspicuously on the television set in the Queens house, where everyone is addicted to the makeuppy theatrics.
Betty also likes the show — she’s smart but not skeptical — and that’s a nice touch. That wonderful moony side of her comes through even more in her scenes with Daniel Meade (Eric Mabius), her boss; Mr. Mabius, who is handsome, and Ms. Ferrera have a sparkling rapport that is the making of this show. He can hold his own with her, and Betty’s crush on him is so hopeless as to seem genuinely and tragically muted.
Daniel, for his part, is sexually drawn to Betty too, but out of perversity — She’s his servant? She’s ugly and thus would be grateful even for abuse? — that this show should probably never make explicit. In any case the two have a valet-hero back-and-forth that, if the writers really explore it, might make them a prime-time Wooster and Jeeves.
But I’m getting ahead of things. Way ahead. “Ugly Betty” is a sweet, funny show. It’s worth watching. And we’ll see.
ABC, tonight at 8, Eastern and Pacific times; 7, Central time.
Salma Hayek, Silvio Horta, Ben Silverman, Jose Tamez, James Parriott and James Hayman, executive producers; “Pilot” written by Mr. Horta and directed by Richard Shepard. A Touchstone Television production.
WITH: America Ferrera (Betty Suarez), Eric Mabius (Daniel Meade), Alan Dale (Bradford Meade), Tony Plana (Ignacio), Ana Ortiz (Hilda), Ashley Jensen (Christina), Becki Newton (Amanda), Mark Indelicato (Justin), Vanessa Williams (Wilhelmina Slater), Michael Urie (Marc), Kevin Sussman (Walter), William Abadie (Phillippe Michel) and Gina Gershon (Fabia).
An Article from Entertainment Weekly
Published on May 18, 2007
The Perfect Soap Storm
On the season finale of ''Ugly Betty,'' death, pregnancy, a doomed wedding, a paternity shocker, a prison break, and a car accident combine to leave us biting our nails all summer
By Tanner Stransky
Based on the quality of Ugly Betty's first season, I had no doubt this finale would be total snap, crackle, and pop. But I wasn't ready for this. The promos touted enticing story lines: An engagement ring! A discovered birth certificate! Betty finally telling Henry she was willing to fight for him! Last week's preview promised it'd be ''pulse-pounding!'' and ''cataclysmic!'' and packed with plenty of ''surprises!'' But, man oh man (picture me shaking my head gravely here), I wasn't ready for that gunshot.
When the episode was over, I literally sat here and thought: How could they do this to me? And my friends Betty and Hilda? And what about poor little fatherless Justin? Now don't get me wrong, I've gotten choked up nearly every episode this season. Remember all those Puffs-worthy moments I've talked about? But the death of Santos really hit me hard. It's not that I ever really loved his character — he was relatively peripheral, not to mention that he had been a deadbeat rat for a long time — but the reaction of Betty and Hilda, lying in each other's arms on the floor, crying together, hit me like a ton of bricks.
You could say I'm silly for being so wrapped up in such a sudsy television dramedy. Isn't this the show that panders to every stereotype known to man, with over-the-top acting and a transsexual story line to boot? Yes, but it's also got the biggest heart of any show on TV right now. This episode's ending — leaving nearly everyone hanging in some major crisis — was superbly symphonic in its execution. And set to the haunting ''Somewhere,'' with cuts to the scene in West Side Story where Justin is playing the gunned-down Tony. Ahhh....While the audience in the auditorium was crying, the same thing, I'm sure, was happening out in the real world.
Sorry to be obsessing over the ending (but that's what finales are about, right?). The rest of the show leading up to it couldn't have been better. This was the first episode in a while without any filler; the quip-filled dialogue actually helped advance the plot. Just for a quick recap, here's where everybody was left going into the summer break: Henry and the pregnant Charlie are on their way to Arizona to do baby-related things. Santos is presumably dead after being gunned down in a convenience store. Daniel and Alexis are injured — or worse — after a car accident on the way to rehab. Claire is about to break out of a prison transport bus. Ignacio is stuck in Mexico, waiting for a visa. And Christina and Amanda are drunk and trapped in the Love Dungeon behind the fashion closet. Bradford, Willy, and Marc are the only ones who — at the end of the show — aren't in some sort of peril.
Betty and Henry, for the first time, really seemed poised to get their legitimate relationship on. Betty confessed her love (''So here I am, fighting'') in the copy room. Luckily, she didn't have to fight for long because Henry had already kicked Charlie to the curb. But somehow, I should have known the couple couldn't really be happy together — that's just not how this show works. Charlie showed up, knocked up, and good guy Henry said he couldn't abandon his child. Betty's screwed once again. It was clear from their emotional goodbye, even with that glasses-to-glasses kiss, that their relationship is meant to be. They're dorks for sure (who loved Amanda's ''dorkus interruptus'' comment?), but they're dorks with chemistry! I suppose that if we viewers did get what we want — a total, full-on Henry-Betty relationship — we'd get bored with it. At least this is interesting! But the evil voice in my head is screaming for Charlie to burn.
And what other relationship was on the rocks this week? Willy and Marc's. After Fabia demanded that she have ''that girl'' (Marc) in exchange for her booked wedding date at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Willy shipped Marc off. ''Are you smoking?'' Willy said to Marc after he had been assimilated into Fabia's posse. To which the beat-down Marc replied, ''Yes, she makes me. And she makes me eat pasta, too.'' Ha! For only the second time this season, Willy showed her humanity (she's not completely evil!) with those flashbacks — wonderfully set to Vanessa Williams singing ''The Way We Were'' — of her and Marc's good times (him injecting Botox, giving her pedicures, etc.). What a nice tribute to this wonderfully funny boss-assistant relationship! When he did finally get to come back to Mode, though, it was back to business, even though Willy couldn't hide her happiness in having her partner in crime back on her side. ''You did not just hug me,'' she said, in classic Willy deadpan.
The rest of the plots also had me on pins and needles. Christina discovered a birth certificate that said Amanda may be Fey Sommers' daughter. Not exactly sure what this means, because the details about Fey are still foggy. Could that — God forbid — mean that Bradford may be Amanda's father, since he and Fey had an affair? (Okay, that'd be really gross, seeing as how Amanda and what would be her half brother Daniel were intimate for a long time. Probably not likely, though, as Amanda said that Fey had been a family friend and that her father had handled Fey's finances.)
Somewhere in the countryside, Claire was about to escape so she could get to Bradford. And now with Bradford and Willy's wedding pushed back to November (sweeps?), she may actually have time to get to him and make a difference. Go for it, Claire! But sadly, all signs point to Claire being royally screwed, no matter what she does. (I have to say this — who better to play a woman going off the deep end than Judith Light? She's already played every kind of crazy woman in TV movies. This is the role of her lifetime!)
And as for Daniel and Alexis, I'm wondering which one is going to wake up with amnesia. It seems inevitable that some character will have it soon.
Overall, this was the best hour of Betty this season, up there with the pilot and the big reveal about Alexis a few months ago. Though I had my doubts several times throughout the season about whether Betty's premise was sufficiently strong to sustain a series, this episode and its many juicy plotlines convinced me that we've got nothing to worry about: Betty, as a character, is just the glue that holds everything together. The ensemble cast — with all their tangled stories — could keep this show going for years to come.
And now my top quotes of the night:
7. Marc, trying to calm himself down with breathing exercises: ''Inhale, Ricky Martin; exhale, Colin Farrell.''
6. The dental hygienist (a hilarious cameo by Kristin Chenoweth), urging Betty to take charge of her love life: ''Okay, maybe I do escape to the movies a little more often than I should. But this is your movie, Betty!...This is your chance for the happy ending you've always wanted! Now go home and put on some totally cute top and run a brush through that hair — or maybe a hat! And go and stop that plane! You're Drew Barrymore!''
5. Justin, refusing to give any more wedding advice to Hilda: ''I told Mom if she went with the green organza for the bridesmaids, she was on her own.''
4. Willy, planning to take back her St. Patrick's wedding date: ''Get Fabia over here. Wedding Summit '07 [fierce snap] is on!''
3. Fabia: ''You must come to the ceremony. I won't be able to get married without my something old.'' Willy: ''Oh, with the veins in your legs, you already have your something blue.''
2. Justin, preparing for West Side Story: ''Mom, I lost it! I go on in two hours, and I can't snap. What kind of gang member can't snap?''
1. Amanda, trying to make Christina think she's imagining things: ''How drunk are you?'' (This is also my new comeback to everything!)
For an episode guide go to http://www.tv.com/Ugly-Betty/show/58486/summary.html
For the official site of Ugly Betty go to http://abc.go.com/primetime/uglybetty/index?pn=index
For more on Ugly Betty go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ugly_Betty
For a Review of Ugly Betty go to http://www.televisionheaven.co.uk/uglybetty.htm
To listen to the theme song of Ugly Betty go to http://www.televisiontunes.com/Ugly_Betty.html
ï¿½ Date: Sat June 28, 2008 ï¿½ Filesize: 33.7kb ï¿½ Dimensions: 300 x 300 ï¿½
Keywords: Ugly Betty