Starring: America Ferrera, Vanessa Williams, Eric Mabius
So, Ugly Betty is on ABC. That’s about all I knew about the show going in. Now I know more. And now I can’t get that time back.
In case you’ve never seen Ugly Betty, let me give you the rundown on what I’ve been able to decipher. Betty Suarez (America Ferrera) goes to work for Mode Magazine and she’s completely out of her element. There’s a power struggle at the top between Daniel Meade (Eric Mabius) and Wilhelmena Slater (Vanessa Williams). And no one really likes having Betty around for more than making her the butt of the joke. Of course, there are other storylines revolving around the other characters but their name isn’t in the title.
This season opens with Betty making a decision to change her professional life, personal life and to finally get an apartment in the city. Of course, all of these things fall apart before the first episode finishes. The only decision she sticks by is the apartment. Plus Kimmie Keegan (played by Lindsay Lohan who is reprising her devilish turn in Mean Girls) comes to the work for Mode and returns Betty to her high school ridicule. Probably the best part of this story arc has Marc (Michael Urie) and Amanda (Becki Newton) turning their snooty barbs away from Betty and onto Kimmie. I always love to see the hero and the villains teaming up to defeat a common foe.
Speaking of a common foe, the show really picks up when Connor Owens (Grant Bowler) comes in to run the business side of Mode and he and Daniel completely undermine Wihelmena’s authority. Of course, Connor has other plans as well. It’s a definite turning point in the season.
The problem with Ugly Betty is that Betty isn’t ugly. The makeup artists try hard to make America Ferrera look frumpy and unattractive but she’s just too cute to play someone “ugly.” But this goes back to the trend in Hollywood to make attractive people ugly or geeky but still have them be attractive. It just rings hollow.
I watch a lot of television. I watch a lot of television that other people here at Cinegeek do not like. Ugly Betty started out as a show I cared nothing about but I have grown to like some of these characters (more about this in the Bonus Features section) as I have watched this season. Will it become part of my television rotation? Probably not, but it is worth a look.
Presented in 1.78:1 ratio. It looks good and you can’t ask for more without going Blu-Ray. The more of these things I review the more I think I need a better television.
Dolby Digital. It sounds fine and is very adequate for this release. There’s no surround to speak of but dialogue, score, and sound fx are clean and well balanced.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The packaging is nothing to write home about. It’s a standard gatefold six dvd set but the bonus features are great. Along with the usual boring deleted scenes and bloopers come a couple of really funny audio commentaries, but more about them in a moment. The featurette Coming Home to New York City really only talks about moving from Hollywood to New York City, which was a good thing considering the show is centered in New York!
The true gems of this set are the Mode After Hours webisodes and the Look Who Keeps Popping Up commentaries both staring Michael Urie and Becki Newton. I love the characters of Marc and Amanda. If you are having Jack and Karen withdrawals, this pair of self-absorbed, superficial wannabe socialites is just the cure. My suggestion to ABC is to option a spin-off sit-com to air beside Ugly Betty.
Ugly Betty isn’t a bad show it just needs to find its identity. Is it a comedy? Is it a drama? Is it about relationships? Is it a behind the scenes look at the magazine business? It seems that the writers cannot focus on a theme long enough to make a decision. If you’ve been with this show from the beginning you probably have deep attachments to the characters, as well you should. I can see how one would form those attachments. But great television allows new viewers to care from the opening shot. Ugly Betty requires about half a season.
Overall (Not an Average) 6/10
The Season 6.5/10
The Video 5/10
The Audio 5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 8/10
Overall (Not an Average) 6/10