Friday, 5 January 2007

Ugly Betty

So this is the new flagship destined to fill the glossy US import niche slot on C4.

Even before it had started my opinion was none too favourable. I mean look at the title, Ugly Betty. And then look at Betty, played by America Ferrerra. She isn't really that ugly. So she has braces, bushy eyebrows, crap glasses and a dull wig. Presumably unsightly bulges, facial hair, greasy skin and spots are beyond the pale for TV execs. Ugliness is okay, as long as it's sanitised ugliness. Or maybe I'm being a bit harsh, could it be as the series progresses the ugly duckling that is Betty becomes a beautiful swan? I suppose hiring an attractive young woman saves on make up if this is how the story arc pans out.

The pilot opens with Betty, an afficianado of fashion magazines by chance lands an editorial assistant's job at MODE magazine. She happened to capture the eye of the proprietor, Bradford Deale (Alan Dale, AKA TV's Jim Robinson) who has just handed the editorial job to his "man-whore" son, Daniel Meade (Eric Mabius) See Betty is so ugly that she's the one woman he WON'T end up bonking, meaning he'll end up working on the magazine rather than his PA's. Hardy-ha ha.

One by one we're introduced to our set of regular cardboard cut-out characters. Well, this is supposed to be a satire on the world of fashion and the vacuity of celebrity. But where's the satire? The two gay characters - Betty's young nephew Justin (Mark Indelicato) and Marc (Michael Urie) are like Jack (Sean Hayes) from Will & Grace, so overtly gay there can never be any doubt. Is this to ensure the moral compass of corporate America isn't offended by their harmless campery, so they can advertise away in good conscience?

Well it was mildly humorous in a slightly naff and lame way. It's no better or worse than other tongue-in-cheek dramas. It's undemanding. It's sweet. It subtly reinforces dominant values and beauty standards. All good wholesome fun.

17 comments:

Jim Jay said...

Blimey, I can't believe you watched this when it was so clearly going to be terrible.

I agree that Betty isn't ugly unless you think hair cuts, glasses and fashion sense equal beauty. But having looked at wikipedia it doesn't look like there's a beautiful transformation at the end (not from the other countriies versions anyway) and as soon as that happen the series would HAVE to end. No more money.

I guess the thing that irritates me though is just these shows poking fun at an entirely tiresome pointless world so vacuous it doesn't need a parody to show it up. Media people making shows about other people in the media - hmmm.

nb other countries set the show in different industries

Phil said...

"Blimey, I can't believe you watched this when it was so clearly going to be terrible."

That's what happens when you haven't got a social life :(

At least from now on I know I can blog in Ugly Betty's time slot without missing anything.

stroppybird said...

Phil , you and Louise should set up a support group for sad lefties who watch crap TV :-)

Phil said...

Tell me about it Stropps. I'm finding it very very difficult to resist blogging about Celeb Big Brother and Deal or No Deal!

badmatthew said...

Aren't you all missing out on the postmodern irony bit? After all there are people, good people, who quite liked Torchwood! And you're missing out on the Salma Hayek/telenovelas angle that makes this a prime piece of hybridity!

PS I missed it because my entire social life is on a Friday evening!
And I'll miss this afternoon's repeat!

Jim Jay said...

I've been resisting blogging on Big Bro too - but only because I was told off the other day for a different posting on TV... "stick to the politics I was told" bloody Sheridan - if he'd have gone in I could blog on it in all good conscience!

stroppybird said...

Jim

Ignore whoever told you off. Even lefties have other interests as well as politics. Stroppyblog is a mix of politics, sex and crap TV ( I plan to add more music in this year as well). And what is wrong with that :-)

Phil said...

Btw Stroppy any chance of a link from your esteemed blog to this? ;)

Darren said...

I think you're all being a bit hard on Ugly Betty. There was actually a good take on the show a few months back on Salon.com, which suggested that Ugly Betty was as much about class as anything else.

And any popular show on mainstream american tv that touches upon the c-word is in my good books.

You can check out the article here.

Phil said...

Perhaps we are cde Ingrate. Class was briefly touched on in the pilot and it will be interesting to see how it pans out.

How has it gone down in your neck of the woods?

Darren said...

The fact that it has a second series is indication enough that it has went down really well in the stateside . . . especially when you think that it is up against My Name is Earl & The Office on NBC on the same night.

But what do I know. My favourite show from 2006, 'Lucky Louie', was cancelled after just one season.

Neil said...

Phil - you need to check out Celeb BB, it's turning into a bizarre comment on the class divide, with Jade and her Mum taking on the combined might of Ken Russell and that annoying Bolywood bird. I feel it meeds further Marxist anaysis, but definatley worth seeing Ken's exit arguement where he states he is of a different class to Jade. At last the class war is being played out on prime time TV!

stroppybird said...

"Btw Stroppy any chance of a link from your esteemed blog to this? ;) "

Esteemed, hmmm. you must be quite new to stroppyblog to say that :-)

I'll add a link though as you asked so nicely...

Anonymous said...

I did try writing a Marxist analysis of Big Brother once, Neil. It was for BB4 I think, talking about how the contestant's 'diversity' in 'race', gender and sexuality covered for an homogeneity of class.

Thankfullly when my hard drive went to silicon hell it took my woeful witterings with it.

Louisefeminista said...

Re: Ugly Betty. Thought it was, mmm, how shall I say it, shite (even if my standards aren't terribly high.

Though there's always the adorable Salma Hayek.......

Phil said...

'Fraid you'll have to make do with Vanessa Williams. Word is Hayek only makes occasional appearances ...

Tall said...

Saw it last night, surprisingly, not that bad, especially the Zellweger-esc Natalie not caring about being portraid as what the industry see as "fat". Only caught snippets of CBB, but the scene with dirk and the bottle of whiskey was genius, and aren't most people of a different class to Jade?