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5.0 out of 5 stars Ugly Betty is beautiful!, August 7, 2008
This review is from: Ugly Betty: Season 1 (DVD)
I am not a big television person, which is why I did not watch the first season of Ugly Betty while it aired. I've had the DVD box set for ages, but didn't watch it until recently. I watched the original telenovela this show is based on (Betty la Fea), and I wondered if the American version would do it justice. Ugly Betty, like its Colombian counterpart, has proven that a soap opera-ish TV series could be over the top and entertaining and still be well written and clever.

Betty Suarez is a Mexican-American from Queens is fresh out of college, hoping to land a job in magazine publishing. First impressions are not in her favor. She is not an attractive girl (to say the least), but she's got intelligence, wit and an exuberant personality on her side. Unfortunately, Meade Publications' most successful magazine, Mode, is not interested in the aforementioned qualities. It is, after all, a fashion magazine. So imagine Betty's surprise when she does get hired. But she gets hired for the wrong reasons. Bradford Meade (Alan Dale) hires Betty to be his womanizing son Daniel's assistant (Eric Mabius) to keep him concentrating on his work and not on getting into a beautiful secretary's skirt. Upset, Daniel tries to get Betty to quit, but quickly warms up to her sweet disposition. She is the brains and strength behind most of his decisions regarding both his job and personal life, so she soon becomes something of a lifeline for him. Things aren't easy for Betty at Mode. Marc (Michael Urie) and Amanda (Becki Newton), an assistant to the creative director and the receptionist respectively, decide to make Betty's life hell by constantly mocking her. Everyone else seems to find her amusing. She does have friends though. Christina (Ashley Jensen), the magazine's Scottish wardrobe person and Henry (Christopher Gorham), the hot geeky accountant, are always there with and for her. Throw in lots and lots of office politics, a mysterious woman about to make a comeback, an ambitious creative director who will do anything to become Mode's editor-in-chief (Vanessa Williams), murder, intrigue, and immigration issues, and you have yourself one entertaining show.

First let me give props to America Ferrera. She is absolutely adorable as Betty. Though not classically beautiful, America is a very attractive young woman, and it must not be easy to be shown in the most unflattering light week after week. She pulls it off with aplomb though, and the actress succeeds in endearing the character to the audience with her sweetness and cheerfulness. The show is about an ugly girl working in one of the most superficial industries around, but this one girl manages to bring out depth in the shallowest character. Yes, even Willemina (Williams), Marc and Amanda surprise you every now and then. Rebecca Romjin is surprisingly great as "Alexis." She can be ruthless and petty one minute and vulnerable and complex the next. I probably would have picked a better-looking actor to play Daniel, but Mabius is doing a wonderful job. At times, it seems like he's only using Betty, but he truly cares for his underling and sees her more like a friend and confidante than just an assistant. Marc and Amanda remind me of Jack and Karen from Will & Grace, which is fine with me, for I used to love that show. And who can forget the Latin talent on this show? I love Betty's supportive dad Ignacio (Tony Plana), her loud and tacky sister Hilda (Ana Ortiz) and her fashion-savvy, Broadway enthusiast nephew Justin (Mark Indelicato), who is so going to be gay when he grows up. (I crack up when the family watches what is so obvious to me parodies of a Mexican soap opera.) Put all of that together with guest stars like Salma Hayek (also one of the show's executive producers) and Lucy Lu and you've got a winner. There is comedy, intrigue, romance and poignant moments. I absolutely loved the season finale. So many cliffhangers and sad moments. I am so rooting for Betty and Henry. He'd better be back next season. I can't wait to pick up season two. After that, I will definitely be watching season three every week.

* I haven't had the opportunity to check out the DVD extras, but I look forward to watching the interviews and listening to the commentary. *
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 13, 2008 9:58:56 AM PDT
Diane Moore says:
Great review! I have never really wanted to watch this show. But, maybe after reading your review, I will give it a chance. :)
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