Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Case for an end to Ugliness

I really have enjoyed Ugly Betty. Sure, it was much better in the beginning, with Rebecca Romjin playing (arguably) one of the most successful man-woman conversions ever, Salma Hayek showing up as a Latina love interest, the fresh skewering of fashion world foibles, and, my personal favourite, the cuts away to an outrageous Spanish soap opera that was even more outlandish than Ugly Betty itself.

But then, the show has had ongoing pillars of strength in the beautifully b!tchy Vanessa Williams, Judith "Who's the Drunken Boss?" Light, Becky Newton as a demented receptionist (and who like Ms Williams had some of the most expressive eyebrows ever seen on the small screen), and of course the gorgeous America Ferrera and her real womanly curves dressing down to play the frumpy Betty. Even old Wolfgang West himself showed up as a muscle-bound bounder - albeit an Australian one.

As much fun as it was, it is coming to an end very soon on New Zealand screens. It's not really a surprise that it was not really a Kiwi thing, considering it has been on the Gilmore graveyard timeslot for a couple of series now. With the demise of Scrubs, that just leaves (if I count correctly) Glee as the remaining beacon of American insanity brightening up the screen, though a recent comment by Dai Henwood on 7 Days showed the disrespect with which that show is viewed by a probably fairly sizable portion of the New Zealand viewing public.

Back to Betty: I did enjoy the show, but will probably not mourn its passing. Strange to say, but as much as I enjoyed the characters, the characters themselves would have had to stay static to remain as enjoyable. This was one series where character development was actually counterproductive, as it moves them away from the stereotypes that the characters were meant to exemplify. Later attempts to reel some of them back to the straight and narrow (not literally speaking of course) could not really stretch credibility any further, but actually just got a little boring.

Never mind. Ugly Betty came, saw, and conquered, fell into decline, and quite soon will end up as a rather pleasant memory. At least the final series didn't plunge to the depressing depths of Parker Lewis Can't Lose, a show I utterly adored, but which ended on a note so completely out of step with what came before as to almost totally ruin my fond memories.

Verdict: It was loud, brash, colourful, but not really that ugly. Adios Ugly Betty. Buenos noches. 4 sombreros out of 5.

Some Ugly Betty Quotes:

"Remember, we only make others feel bad to make you feel good!" -- Fashion TV Presenter

"You are evil. I'm so going as you for Halloween." -- Marc to Wilhelmina

"He's not my brother. My only brother is my sister, Alexis." -- Daniel, on newfound half-brother Tyler.

"Ten bucks says there's a coat in there made of Dalmatian puppies!" -- Christina to Betty, about Wilhelmina's closet

"What, I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you, your shirt is too loud." - Betty to Marc

"Back when my mother, father and sister all worked here, people used to think I got preferential treatment, too." -- Daniel to Betty, on working at Mode

"Thank God it's hunting season. If I can't have the man that I want, at least I can kill something." -- Wilhelmina

"Wow, I've never known anyone who's been blackmailed before. It's so All My Children, which I used to watch with my mother, and I don't know why I just said that." -- Henry

"There weren't any hotties in Africa. I mean, they're thin, but it's sick thin, not hot thin." -- Becks

"It's so great to work with people who actually eat." -- Betty


And as a complete aside, I was almost reassured when I heard that TVNZ is doing a "50 years of news" special tonight. And then the kicker came, "as voted by you!". Four heralds of television apocalypse... though perhaps I am being a bit... negative.


Unknown said...

I figured they were only doing 50 years of news at that time slot because Prime has the 50 years of TV documentary on then. Personally, that wasn't enough to make me change channels from the Prime doco to TV1.

Off-Black said...

The Prime series rocks, and is a terrible indictment on TVNZ that they didn't make it themselves. The TV1 doc was shallow, slick, self promoting, over produced and awful.