I have a little confession to make… I am obsessed with TV. Literally, obsessed. I love watching American TV shows. I think it’s so much better than watching a film, where you only get to spend two hours with the characters. With television, you get to really invest in their development, see them grow and evolve week to week. When the show and the writing are good, I can re-watch them about a million times. With that in mind, I wanted to talk about one of my favourite shows. OK, so I have a million favourites, but this is definitely in the top 20 I’d say.
Ugly Betty is a television show about a young, ambitious, unfortunate-looking Latina who ends up working for a fashion magazine. The original plot is very reminiscent of The Devil Wears Prada, but with a Mexican twist! One of the things I liked about the show straight away was the fact that it was much deeper than you would expect. Apart from the obvious jokes about an ugly, inexperienced fat girl working in a fashion magazine, there was actually a lot more going on below the superficial surface. Like the playboy billionaire who wants to prove that he has as much potential for greatness as his dead brother, for example.
When I’m watching a TV show I like to find a way to relate to the storylines or the characters, and with Betty I felt like she was a part of my family. I too come from a family of Latinos (my family is Brazilian), and we are a very small, but very tight-knit family, just like hers. I love the little moments she shares with her family, and how when she is at her lowest, she gathers strength from them. At the time of its original airing, I was 16, (mostly) in the closet, and a brace face. I related to her experiences of feeling like a fish swimming with the sharks. I always wanted to be a writer, similar to Betty, and it was actually when I was re-watching this series that I thought it might be an interesting idea to start a blog, so in some ways she definitely inspired this next chapter of my life! Back then, I would’ve been far too scared about what people thought of me. Now I still worry a little bit, but not enough to prevent me from giving this a try, so I guess I’ve grown since the show first aired too!
Although it was cancelled after 4 seasons, and I was very sad not to be getting any more new episodes, on watching it back I’m almost glad that it didn’t live to become something stale and predictable. It’s almost as if it had it’s beginning, middle and end perfectly planned (even though they had to tie up the loose ends rather quickly due to its cancelation). Yes, in the end she does look far better than she did to start with. But for me, it wasn’t the physical transformation that satisfied me the most. It was the journey that she went through to achieve her dreams, however naive or out of reach they seemed. And the way in which she managed to consistently be optimistic and an all round good person. She’s just so genuine and endearing, it’s hard not to fall in love with her. I wish I was able to be that nice at times. Truth is, however hard I try to be like Betty, sometimes I feel more like Wilhelmina Slater, the villain of the show who always has some evil scheme to get her way. She’s campy and heartless and anyone will agree that she is fabulous! But I constantly fight the temptation to go dark, and in times of trouble, I think W.W.B.D: What Would Betty Do?
MY FAVOURITE THINGS ABOUT THE SHOW:
- The telenovela-style drama! There were some incredibly shocking plot twists along the way. Having watched quite a few Brazilian soaps growing up, I love the over-acted, over-the-top theatrics!
- Wilhelmina and her evil sidekick/assistant Marc are the funniest villains on TV. Whether it’s murder or blackmail, kidnapping or sperm-stealing (yes, that happened), when these two are together the posibilities are endless!
- America Ferrera. I’ve seen her in other shows/films, but to me she will always be Betty Suarez.
- It’s funny. Really funny. Without giving anything away, for me there are some real laugh out loud moments!
- I mentioned America Ferrera, but actually the whole cast is very strong. And it appears they all get along well in real life too, having recently reunited for America’s birthday (reunion, anyone?)
I leave you with this lovely song by a pre-‘I’m Yours’ Jason Mraz called ‘The Beauty in Ugly’, a song he wrote specifically for the show: