Netflix Instant Pick: Ugly Betty
Ugly Betty is a show I’ve occasionally gotten caught watching on the preview channel while looking for other things to watch. I wasn’t sure what to think about this show in little snippets. Was it shallow or was it deep? Was it drama or was it comedy? Daniel Meade (Eric Mabius) is such a slut. How can he be the hero? But now that I’ve started it from the beginning, it has completely blown me away. (And I’m not even finished yet. I have two seasons to go.)
I think my main prejudice against this show, aside from the title, is that the heroine does not maximize her natural beauty. I’ve met America Ferrera and she is gorgeous! It’s strange to me that they go so far—with the adult braces, huge glasses and frizzy hair—to hide this. I know that’s the title, and it’s probably a prominent theme of the Colombian soap opera it’s based on (Yo soy Betty, la fea), but it still seems that someone who works at a fashion magazine would at least know enough to pluck her eyebrows. Though I do agree with the overall message of the story (women are beautiful even if they’re not size zero), there are many things outside the weight realm that we can actually control about appearance. Surely she marches to the beat of her own drummer and is charming and beautiful even despite her sometimes comical appearance, but I can’t help watching and just waiting for a make-over episode. (Is this it? Is this where she gets pretty?) I suspect it might be at the very end or never, which makes me feel shallow, but come on, if I had bushy eyebrows and adult braces…I wouldn’t, for the greater good, and to break through other people’s perceptions of me. Appearance does matter, unfortunately. She would do so much better in her career if she accepted that and worked with what she has. (The weight thing though, I totally agree with. Women should look like women and not sticks. Women should be able to, you know, eat something.)
But on to the other charms of the show. It is certainly a dramedy. It’s a nice mix of light and dark humor and over-the-top soap opera story lines, including murder, poisonings and stolen artificial assimilation—most of which is provided by the stomach-turningly evil Wilhelmina Slater (Vanessa Williams). In fact, the first two midseason finales had me gasping at the screen and yelling: “What! What?! WHAT?!” to the point that my husband even pulled himself away from Warcraft long enough to ask, “WHAT are you watching?”
I haven’t found the actual season finales quite as exciting though. For some reason they tend to save their best stuff for the middle of the season, at least so far. So I look forward to continuing with the adventure and I hope that I finally see an America Ferrera I recognize!
Updated 12-22-11: Spoilers Ahead
Well there is a makeover episode as I hoped, though it isn’t exactly what you think. But here is a screenshot of ugly Betty, pretty. But don’t worry if you’re one of the purists out there. This isn’t her look for the rest of the show—just this particular episode. She keeps the trendy glasses, but does lose the braces and the frizziness to her hair, thankfully. Though her hair only appears this gorgeously curled in this episode, unfortunately.
Now that I’ve finished the show, I am pretty satisfied with the overall story as well as where the show starts to head suddenly in the last two episodes. (I wonder if they learned late in the season that they weren’t being renewed?) They tied up more loose ends than I expected in the last two episodes, rather quickly, but somehow it worked. The only thing that didn’t work for me was the ending. I thought they did a great job leading up to the ending I had always heard about but never really believed could happen, but they amazed me by actually making it possible for the characters to go there. Just to then turn around and not go there. That part was disappointing. They set-up the perfect ending and didn’t follow-through, like I assumed they would because the show was over. Instead, they just kind of left it hanging and open, which is too bad. But even though it didn’t end the way I wanted it to, it gave the hint that it would end that way eventually. But I had always heard a rumor about how the show ended that didn’t turn out to be true. I wonder if Yo soy Betty, la fea had ended the way that was rumored. I wish this one had as well! But I won’t give any more away. Hopefully, you’ll give Ugly Betty a chance and see for yourself. It’s still worth a watch, even for just a strong hint at the ending you want.