Just when I thought the week couldn’t get any worse, ABC decided to cancel “Ugly Betty.” I had a bad feeling that might happen when the show was suddenly on at 10 p.m. on Friday nights, when no one cool (besides me) is home to watch it. The show will end in April due to the ailing ratings in the past two seasons. I bet the reason they lost viewers was that “Betty” moved times and days so much; I actually didn’t know it was still on during most of season three. Steve McPherson, the prez of ABC, and executive producer Silvio Horta issued the statement: “We are announcing now as we want to allow the show ample time to write a satisfying conclusion.” [CBC News]
The only satisfying conclusion for me would be if they said, “JK! We love ‘Betty!’” They have moved the show to Wednesdays at 10 p.m. (EST), which is going to confuse even more viewers. But since there’s nothing that can be done at this point, let’s celebrate what it was with the top ten things we loved about “Ugly Betty.”
- That Betty Just Got Cute. Betty was finally starting to understand fashion. She still sports mismatching patterns, braces, and the occasional poncho, but Betty’s style had just become, well, stylish! She learned how to incorporate designer labels and wears fewer rainbows. She also found clothing that complements her figure, got contacts, and fixed her hair. It seemed like we were really close to losing the braces, which were a good effect originally, but come on, adult braces for four years? Give the girl a break!
- The Guest Stars. The show had the absolute best, from executive producer Salma Hayek to Lindsay Lohan, who played a fast-food employee-turned-assistant. Other notable guests: Martha Stewart, Tim Gunn, Isaac Mizrahi, Lucy Liu, Jerry O’Connell, AnnaLynne McCord, Rebecca Gayheart, Kenneth Cole, James Van Der Beek, Victoria Beckham, Vera Wang, Betty White, Debi Mazar, Gene Simmons, Christian Siriano, Naomi Campbell, Nina Garcia, Larry King, Regis Philbin, Kelly Ripa, Adele, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Antonio Sabàto, Jr., and Rachel Maddow. What other show can boast that many in just four seasons?
- Betty’s Many Hotties. Betty gave me hope in men. Sure, it’s just a TV show, but her confidence in herself gave me more confidence in myself. And it also brought out my competitive side. If Betty can rope in intelligent, kindhearted men with jobs, why can’t I? It still gives me middle school memory shudders of kissing with braces (for some reason I thought the clear ones would be subtle, but once there’s food in them, they’re equally grotesque), but seeing Betty get every nerd hottie that crosses her path was downright inspirational.
- Marc and Amanda. They are pretty much the best part of the show. The fashion-obsessed receptionist and her gay best friend, who went from being Wilhelmina’s assistant to a junior fashion editor. They adore each other, share everything, and endlessly make fun of Betty. But in recent seasons, they’ve come to love Betty and now they’re lovingly mocking her, which ends up being heart-warming on occasion.
- In Real Life Magazines Are Dying. I worked at three magazines, and two of them have since folded. “Ugly Betty” lent a quasi-realistic, highly glamorized glimpse into the world of fashion journalism. There’s no sense in picking apart the many ways the show was nothing like actual magazine life (where are the cubicles?), the point is that it gave little girls hope that maybe someday they could steal into a fashion closet and interview celebrities. And because I’m a pessimist, I’m deathly afraid that magazines are going the way of VHS and “Ugly Betty” will become a kitschy reminder of what was once my only dream. Sob.
- The Plot Turns. “Ugly Betty” didn’t mess around with wimpy plots—when something went down, it was in full soap-opera style. This is maybe because the show is based off a telenovela and Colombians are apparently much more dramatic than Americans. (In their version, Betty marries her boss in the end.) But still, we’ve got post-op hottie Alexis Meade (Rebecca Romijn), several secret babies, sperm-stealing, sooo much plotting on behalf of Wilhelmina, affairs, takeovers, extortion, prison sex, deaths and un-deaths, lots of sex on behalf of Daniel Meade, cheating on behalf of almost everyone, a deportation scare, and backstabbing galore. It’s unapologetically cheesy, and I love it for that.
- The Suarez Family. Betty’s family is so overwhelmingly cute. Her father Ignacio is always cooking, her sister Hilda lives at home and runs a beauty shop, and Hilda’s son, Justin, is a gay high school musical theater kid. They get in arguments all the time, but they also eat meals together and discuss each of their issues. I actually believe that they’re family; they complement each other so well and tease each other like a real happy family. They also stand by each other and when they get in fights, they always work them out sensibly and end up in the living room eating something awesome that Ignacio just took out of the oven.
- Wilhelmina Slater. Vanessa Williams is perfect as the catty creative director. She makes being evil seem like so much fun. She stomps around in killer heels and fur, making insane demands of her assistant. But Wilhelmina also manages to be sweet just enough to remain likable … about once an episode. You know she appreciates Marc, even though she’d never admit it and she totally loves her daughter since she covered up a murder for her. She’s like the evil stepmother who is secretly the fairy godmother but can’t have anyone knowing.
- Marc and Justin. When Betty’s nephew, Justin, was having trouble with bullies at school, he turned to Marc as his gay role model. Marc took Justin under his wing and gave him pointers about how to deal, letting him know that he is an amazing little dude and eventually everyone else would realize it. It’s just nice that “Ugly Betty” addresses issues of discrimination, race, sexuality, and doesn’t tiptoe around them either.
- The Show Is On Across The Globe. There are 19 different incarnations of “Yo Soy Betty, La Fea,” which means that cultures all over the world identify with Betty. Not only that, but so many of them changed the title in various amazing ways. In Portugal it’s called “Tudo Por Amor” which means “Everything for Love.” In Russia it’s “Ne Rodis’ Krasivoy” or “Be Not Born Beautiful,” from the Russian phrase, “be not born beautiful, but be born happy.” In Mexico, the show is called “La Fea Más Bella” or “The Most Beautiful Ugly Woman.” And in China, it’s “Chou Nü Wu Di” which translates to “The Ugly Without Rival.” I guess it’s comforting that in so many countries people are looking out for the underdog. There is still hope for all of us smart, awkward girls who wore braces for way too long. Live on, Betty!