Thursday, September 28, 2006

Initial thoughts on “Ugly Betty”

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After a shitty day in which I went to 3 doctor’s appointments as well as a 2-hour x-ray session I was eager to veg out for the night. As part of tonight’s relaxation I decided to catch the first episode of “Ugly Betty.” Though I tend to avoid telenovelas, I was a rabid fan of “Betty la Fea” when it aired in the U.S. several years ago. Its quirkiness and campy humor caught my eye, and I was endeared to its unorthodox approach instead of the usual rags-to-riches novelas. Anyway, here are a few quick impressions of the pilot episode of “Ugly Betty”:

-America Ferrara does a fabulous job as the protagonist, Betty Suarez. It’s not just the fact that her body is not the “ideal” thin coat-hanger type but also her knack in conveying what it’s like to be an outcast, an underdog. She was excellent in “Real Women Have Curves” and helped carry the movie along. Though I haven’t followed her recent trajectory, I’m really hoping that her involvement n “Ugly Betty” can serve as a springboard to better and brighter things.

-Who was the bigger douchebag: Betty’s boss, the French photographer, or her ex-boyfriend? It’s a tough call, but I’m going to say her boss since he thinks a wee bit too much with the head between his legs and I have a nagging hunch that he will turn on her somehow very soon.

-It was fun to note the similarities and differences between “Ugly Betty” and the original “Betty la Fea.” There were several similarities which caught my attention- such as the social naivety of Betty and the use of fashion as a setting. Yet the most stunning similarity I noticed was in the demeanor and physical appearance between the actor who plays Bradford Meade and his Colombian counterpart, Kepa Amuchastegui. It’s as if they were twins. On the other hand, I was very uncomfortable with the differences between the families in each of the versions. (In “Betty la Fea” Betty had an older nerdier brother, both her parents were alive, her mother was doting, and her father was a hotheaded comic foil whereas in the U.S. version Betty’s mother had already died and her older brother was replaced with a fey nephew).

-Believe it or not the funniest moments of “Ugly Betty” had nothing to do with Betty herself. Rather, it was Salma Hayek’s cameo as the femme fetale in the way over-the-top telenovela playing on the television in the Suarez household. Too hilarious!

-For a pilot it was not too bad. Though the story went a little too fast and covered one too many subjects, it helped to adequately establish the general plot line. Thus, I am looking forward to next Thursday’s episode to see how the story will flow. All-in-all it was quite enjoyable and a nice way to spend a night relaxing.

Update (30 September): Did you miss the beginning of “Ugly Betty”? YouTube comes to the rescue as it posted the first eight-and-a-half minutes of the pilot episode. Enjoy!

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