Ugly Betty is an American television comedy-drama series starring America Ferrera in the title role, along with Eric Mabius, Vanessa Williams, Ashley Jensen, Becki Newton, Rebecca Romijn, and Michael Urie. The series premiered on September 28, 2006, on ABC in the United States and on Citytv in Canada. It follows the life of the unglamorous and good-natured Betty Suarez (Ferrera), and her incongruous job at the ultra-chic New York City fashion magazine Mode.
The series is an adaptation of the Colombian telenovela Betty la fea ("Betty the Ugly"), written by Fernando Gaitán (also author of Café, con aroma de mujer). It is adapted into a New York City setting by creator/developer Silvio Horta and co-producers Salma Hayek and Ben Silverman, whose production companies Silent H, Ventanarosa and Reveille respectively partnered with ABC Studios to create the hour-long program for U.S. audience. Hayek has appeared on the show as Sofia Reyes, in addition to playing a cameo role as an actress on a fictional telenovela watched by the main character's family in the pilot episode.
A cast of characters populates their worlds. Creative Director Wilhelmina Slater, who wanted the Editor-In-Chief position, is Daniel's nemesis, while Betty finds herself dealing with Marc St. James, Wilhelmina's assistant/henchman and receptionist Amanda Sommers (originally Tanen until the end of the first season), who wanted Betty's job in large part, initially, because of her attraction to Daniel. The only friends that Betty trusts at Mode are seamstress Christina McKinney and accountant Henry Grubstick, to whom Betty is attracted; meanwhile, at home she relies on her father Ignacio Suarez, older sister Hilda and Hilda's son Justin. Daniel's family, includes his mother Claire Meade; and, after returning from a two-year disappearance, his transsexual and competitive sister Alexis Meade (formerly known as Alex), who has made a successful transition to being female.
Betty sports thick-framed eyeglasses and a large and prominent set of dental braces (which have become the most identifiable symbol for both Ferrera's character and the show itself). Her lackluster physical appearance and awkward nature result in her immediately being singled out in the single-minded world of New York City fashion, and she is quickly saddled with the show's eponymous nickname. The show contains a degree of surrealism used to express the inner thoughts of its characters. For example, in "I See Me, I.C.U.", Betty speaks with an earlier version of herself about how far she has come since her first day.
Throughout the show's first season, most of the serialized storylines revolve around Betty trying to balance her work, home and romantic life. Betty's relationship with boyfriend Walter is challenged; initially, Walter resists the changes in Betty's life. Betty must deal with Walter's infidelity with obnoxious neighbor Gina Gambarro. Betty falls in love with Mode accountant Henry Grubstick, whose ex-girlfriend Charlie claims to be pregnant with his child, despite having cheated with another man. Betty's sister Hilda fails to sell beauty products door-to-door and becomes unemployed, but discovers her talent as a beautician. Betty's father Ignacio has health and immigration problems, and he admits to a history of murdering his employer after finding out he abused his wife, Rosa, with whom he had fallen in love. Rosa is Betty and Hilda's late mother.
Other Season One plot lines involve Daniel's womanizing, his affairs with fellow editor Sofia Reyes and lawyer Grace Chin, and his sudden drug addiction; Bradford's affair with Daniel's late predecessor Fey Sommers; the revelation that Claire murdered Fey; Claire's battle with alcoholism; and Alexis' attempts to repair her relationship with Daniel at Bradford's expense. Several storylines revolve around Wilhelmina, including her schemes to use Alexis to force Daniel out of his job. (Alexis is first introduced as 'the mystery woman', until she reveals to the world that Alex Meade had not died in a skiing accident but was now a woman, Alexis). Wilhelmnia also plots to marry Bradford so she can take over the company, and she attempts to deal with her rebellious daughter Nico while winning acceptance from her father.
Finally, Marc deals with multi-tasking for his boss, his homosexuality and family acceptance. Amanda becomes a binge eater, is the target of a prank, and discovers that her true birth mother was Fey Sommers. Christina is used by Wilhelmina even as she helps Betty.
In the second season, Betty has to decide if she still wants to be with Henry after he got Charlie pregnant, and despite the fact that he is going to leave for Tucson, AZ, in a few months (so he can be at Charlie's side and help raise the baby). In between these events, a deli shop owner named Giovanni "Gio" Rossi starts building a platonic relationship with Betty, which has Hilda, Amanda, and Henry suspecting that Gio might be trying to become the new guy in Betty's life. Daniel recovers from a car accident but Alexis forgets the last few years of her life, including the fact that she was changed into a woman and that her father mistreated her. Bradford decides to use this to his advantage and doesn't remind Alexis of how he mistreated her; instead, he claims that he was always supportive of her. Wilhelmina's scheme to marry Bradford Meade unravels when (1) Betty learns of the affair she's having with her bodyguard (they were even together the night before the wedding) and (2) Bradford has a heart attack at the altar and later dies from it. Wilhelmina would later be fired from the company by the Meade Family. Amanda tries desperately to find out more about her family, and with Wilhelmina's help, she gets a list of people that could be her dad, leading her to Rock legend Gene Simmons. Marc finds a partner in Cliff St. Paul, a photographer who is not as handsome, but Marc accepts him as a boyfriend anyway. Claire Meade escapes from jail with her "friend" Yoga, and they hide away in the Hamptons. Claire is later recaptured, and thanks to a clever (and ironic) scheme by the late Fey Sommers, Claire is acquitted of her murder (Fey had poisoned Claire's perfume in an attempt to kill her, but instead it made Claire become crazy and violent, and eventually she cut Fey's brakes and killed her). Later Claire tries her best to get her life on track; however, she fears that she may become a burden on her two children. Therefore, she launches a new magazine known as "Hot Flash", which aims to attract female readers over a certain age who have been neglected by their children and have nothing better to do. At first, Alexis Meade states there is not enough money to finance the magazine; however, using her 'resources' wisely, Claire finds ways to make the magazine work and a success. Hilda tries to get over Santos and to start her new career as a beautician while Justin, who became an intern at Mode, tries to be more like his dad and goes into a "bad boy" phase until Hilda intervenes, prompting the two to restore their mother-son relationship. Christina is surprised to see her ex show up, but when she learns that he has a life threatening illness and in need of money for an operation, she's determined to help. When Wilhelmina offers to pay Christina if she becomes her surrogate (by being impregnated with Bradford's sperm, which Wilhelmina went to great lengths to remove from his body so she can get control of the Meade empire), Christina agrees to carry the baby, not knowing that this latest plan has more expectant twist and turns when Wilhelmina's troubled sister Renee shows up and starts dating Daniel, resulting in Wilhelmina taking great lengths to conceal her scheme. Hilda meets Justin's gym teacher and begins a romantic relationship with him. Daniel's son shows up from Paris, and he denies him as his son but tries to bond with him. Gio wants to take Betty to Rome for a romantic date when Henry shows up to ask her hand in marriage.
Production was halted in November 2007 due to the Writers' Strike. It was then announced the season would be cut short to 18 episodes instead of a proposed 23. New episodes did not air on U.S. television until April 24, 2008, starting with Twenty Four Candles and ending on May 22, 2008, with "Jump". This was the last episode to be produced in Los Angeles.
For this season, Betty decides to move on from Henry and Gio, and after a cross-country trip around the United States, decides to move out of Casa Suarez and into an apartment, advance in her quest to move up in the publishing business, and attracts the interest of a musician named Jesse. In addition, she buries the hatchet with Kimberly "Kimmie" Keegan, her childhood nemesis and manager of Flushing Burger, where Ignacio works; Daniel demoted to Editor-in-Chief of Player magazine, his decision to fight for custody of his son Daniel Jr., and his reinstatement to his Job at Mode; Wilhelmina's sudden rise to the top, luring Betty into her world in her attempt to mold her, her continuing manipulation with the Meades, a renewed romance with the company's CFO (who also has scheming plans of his own) and her downfall that resulted in Daniel reclaiming his job again; Marc's romance with Cliff, his jealousy over being passed over by Wilhelmina after she lured Betty back to Mode, a move that prompted Marc to set the downfall in motion for his boss; Claire's stepping in to stop Wilhelmina from using the family and get Hot Flash ready; Hilda continuing to see Tony, who is still married; Justin getting ready to break in show business; Amanda's continued quest to find her father; and Christina dealing with Stuart's drug problems and her pregnancy with the unborn Meade baby, which in turn would take a turn for the worse after she is pushed down a flight of stairs.
|Betty Suarez||America Ferrera|
|Daniel Meade||Eric Mabius|
|Amanda Tanen||Becki Newton|
|Henry Grubstick||Christopher Gorham|
|Claire Meade||Judith Light|
|Wilhelmina Slater||Vanessa Williams|
|Marc St. James||Michael Urie|
|Christina McKinney||Ashley Jensen|
|Hilda Suarez||Ana Ortiz|
|Ignacio Suarez||Tony Plana|
|Justin Suarez||Mark Indelicato|
|Alexis Meade 9||Rebecca Romijn|
|Giovanni "Gio" Rossi 7||Freddy Rodriguez|
|Suzuki St. Pierre||Alec Mapa|
|Gina Gambarro 2||Ava Gaudet|
|Beckett 'Becks' Scott 2||Bailey Chase|
|Nick Pepper 2||Max Greenfield|
|Sheila 7||Illeana Douglas|
|Fabia 2||Gina Gershon|
|Cliff St. Paul 7||David Blue|
|Kenny 7||John Cho|
|Kimmie Keegan||Lindsay Lohan|
|Victoria Beckham 10||Herself|
|Coach Diaz||Eddie Cibrian|
|Bradford Meade||Alan Dale||Giving Up The Ghost|
|Walter 6||Kevin Sussman||Brothers|
|Sofia Reyes 8||Salma Hayek||Sofia's Choice|
|Steve||Stelio Savante||In or Out|
|Constance Grady 8||Octavia Spencer||Punch Out|
|Santos 8||Kevin Alejandro||How Betty Got Her Grieve Back|
|Amelia "Yoga" Bluman 8||Lorraine Toussaint||I See Me, I.C.U.|
|Renee Slater||Gabrielle Union||Burning Questions|
ABC had announced the title of the series would be Betty the Ugly, a change from its developmental title, but changed it back to Ugly Betty on July 14, although the Ugly Betty title was already being used in promotions prior to this date on Citytv. There was speculation that the show would be a daily serial that would have debuted as a summer 2006 or midseason 2007 entry, but given the buzz and growing interest in the show, the network decided to make it a weekly series instead. On August 8 2006, ABC decided at the last minute, a schedule change to move "Ugly Betty" from its previously announced Friday 8 p.m. (ET) time period to Thursday at 8 p.m. replacing sitcoms Notes from the Underbelly and Big Day as a lead-in to top-rated program Grey's Anatomy, due to the growing interest in the show.
The program's pilot was tested on several cable providers to gauge interest and feedback from viewers, most notably the Hispanic community, including those who are fans of the original Betty, who hoped that ABC will maintain the integrity of the original. ABC has also allowed its affiliates to show free off-air screenings to the public at various events ahead of the show's debut. In addition the network screened the debut episode on the web and made the episodes available for download on iTunes after their initial airings on January 5 2007. The encore episodes have also run on ABC Family and SoapNet, both of which have been airing marathons of the show.
On October 13 2006, ABC ordered a full season pick-up for the series, beyond the original 13 ordered at the May Upfronts due to its premiere ratings. ABC originally announced 22 episodes for the season 1, but increased the number of episodes to 23 by one. The season finale is the episode called "East Side Story." On March 21 2007, ABC renewed the series for a second season.
Although he is joining NBC as their new entertainment head, Ben Silverman will remain co-executive producer on the show, but in a limited role.
In November 2007 the cast of the series made headlines when they threw their support behind the 2007 Writers' Strike by joining them on the picket line in solidarity. Ferrera commented on the reason why they did this: "The issues coming up with the actors’ contracts are very similar to what the writers are dealing with right now, and we have to stay united and stand strong within the creative community for what we believe is fair. On November 25, the cast appeared in a 38-second video for "Speechless Hollywood" in which a black & white camera pulled away from a close up of Ferrera to showing her co-stars sitting next to her as they look directly at the camera without speaking.
On February 11, 2008, ABC picked up Ugly Betty for the 2008-09 television season, along with nine other shows. Unfortunately on the day the renewal was announced, two of the show's executive producers, Marco Pennette and James Hayman, were let go. The departures of Pennette and Hayman adds to the constant turnovers on the series off-camera, which has so far seen five writers having exited or fired. In a Q&A from TV Guide, Michael Ausiello criticized the decision, saying "that someone saw fit to fix what wasn't broken" and praised the two men for writing several of the show's best episodes. These turn of events may have also contributed to Rebecca Romijn's decision to no longer be a full time regular on the series in the third season, citing the move by new writers to make changes in the direction of several characters, especially Romijn's role as Alexis.
With the strike now over as of February 12, there is now the possibility that they could have seven new episodes completed by April, bringing the number of second season episodes produced to 20, but so far it has been adjusted to 18. As a result of the strike, creator Silvio Horta has delayed plans for a musical episode and having Lindsay Lohan onboard for a possible storyline until the third season. On March 12, 2008, Horta inked a two-year, seven-figure deal with ABC Studios, which guarantees the show's future and gives Horta a chance to produce other projects aside from "Betty".
On April 17, 2008, the show's podcast, which is usually presented in audio and hosted by stars Urie and Newton, became available on video for the first time.
On May 6, 2008, ABC announced that starting with the third season, Ugly Betty will return to New York City and start production there. The move was done to save costs and to bring the authenicity of the series' setting back into the show. The production is returning to Silvercup Studios in Queens, where the original pilot was produced. The move resulted in several crewmembers in Los Angeles being let go.
As noted by the international broadcast posted below, several of these broadcasters have not only acquired this version, but the counterparts as well, including those that were produced by the broadcasters themselves. So far the series has been sold to TV networks and broadcasters in over 130 countries, making this version the most successful of the "Betty La Fea" franchise.
In the U.S., Univision aired the Mexican counterpart La fea más bella, which ran weeknights at 8 p.m. (E/P), including Thursdays during the same time Ugly Betty airs. The star of the Mexican version, Angelica Vale, was supposed to make a cameo in the 22nd episode, playing Betty's "counterpart" from the series, Leticia 'Lety' Padilla Solís, but the story turned out to be false. Vale appeared in the season finale playing Angelica, an orthodontist's assistant who looks exactly like Lety (pre-makeover).
A version of Yo soy Betty, la fea made by Bosnian Federalna Televizija (FTV), Croatian RTL Televizija and Serbian Fox Televizija began airing in October 2007. The title of the show is Ne daj se, Nina ("Don't give up, Nina"). After a long audition, newcomer Lana Gojak, who resembles America Ferrera, has been cast in the role of Nina (Betty). Other reported cast members include established actors such as Robert Kurbaša, Edvin Livarić, Bojana Ordinačev, Petar Ćiritović, Andrija Milošević, Kristina Krepela and Sloboda Mićalović. The first season will include 52 episodes and will air once a week. Although the storyline follows that of Yo soy Betty, la fea, Lana Gojak's appearance as Nina seems to be based more on the heroine of Ugly Betty than on that of Yo soy Betty, la fea.
There is even talk of an Arabic version of "Ugly Betty", which would be produced and shot in Dubai. This would be the first "Betty, la Fea"-inspired series to be adapted from the American version.
|DVD Name||Region 1||Region 2 (UK and Ireland release)||Region 4 (Australian release)||No of discs||No of episodes|
|The Complete First Season - The Bettyfied Edition||August 21 2007||September 24 2007||October 31 2007||6||23|
|The Complete Second Season - Brighter, Bolder, Bettyer||September 9 2008||November 10 2008||TBA||5||18|
In addition, a 2008 calendar for "Ugly Betty" was released using stills from the first season, while a series of greeting cards was issued in January 2008. These photos were edited to enhance her facial features. A 2009 calendar is scheduled to be issued in August 2008
Even the main character has been immortalized into a doll, as Angelic Dreamz, Inc's Madame Alexander collection introduced two different versions of Betty Suarez that were featured on their website in February 2008
|Season||Timeslot (EDT)||Season Premiere||Season Finale||TV Season||Rank|| Viewers|
|1||Thursday 8.00 P.M.||September 28, 2006||May 17, 2007||2006-2007||#35||11.3'''|
|2||Thursday 8.00 P.M.||September 27, 2007||May 22, 2008||2007-2008||#53||9.2|
|3||Thursday 8.00 P.M.||September 25, 2008||Spring 2009||2008-2009||TBA||TBA|
In the October 7, 2006, episode of "Saturday Night Live," cast member Fred Armisen spoofed the character of Betty by playing a look-alike named Fugly Betsy. Not to be outdone, a February 17 2007 episode of MADtv has Ellen DeGeneres (played by Nicole Parker) interviewing an actress on her talk show who plays Ugly Betty with Salma Hayek (played by LisaNova) always pointing out how ugly she is. The Ugly Betty actress (played by Crista Flanagan) claims it is only make up and costume but is ignored. Crista later reprised her Betty role in the poorly reviewed parody film Meet The Spartans.
On April 22 2007, the 2007 TV Land Awards parodied the series with a spoof aptly titled Ugly Betty White, with White playing Betty Suarez, Charo playing Hilda, Erik Estrada playing Ignacio, Joan Collins playing Wilhelmina, Peter Scolari playing Alexis, and George Hamilton playing Daniel. Thanks to her performance in that parody, the producers cast White in a guest role in the second season.
Even the cast poked fun at their alter egos. On October 30, 2006, three of the series' cast members, appearing in their characters (Ferrera as Betty, Mabius as Daniel, and Newton as Amanda) gave New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick a 'makeover' to make him look more like quarterback Tom Brady in a spoof that was featured on ESPN's Monday Night Countdown.
It was also referenced in other shows, most notably in "Up All Night", the February 8 2007 installment of the NBC sitcom 30 Rock, in which Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) says "this would've worked on Ugly Betty" when she fails to crawl out a door without being seen. The scene was patterned after the Ugly Betty episode "Swag" in which Betty crawled through a fashion show.
In Australia, during the lead up week to the huge Sunday Premiere of Ugly Betty, February 12 to February 17 2007, Channel Seven devoted a week of Deal or No Deal to the show by having the models dress like Betty, complete with the Guadalajara poncho. Channel Seven also used the series to promote its successful "Beautiful Sundays" schedule.
The show's impact on issues and culture has also attracted the attention of the United States Congress, where on January 17 2007 California congresswoman Hilda Solis (D-32nd, El Monte) saluted Ferrera on both her Golden Globe win and for bringing a positive profile to the Latin and Hispanic communities.
In addition to that recognition, on May 8, 2007, star America Ferrera was honored by Time on the magazine's annual list of the 100 most influential people. The event took place at New York's Lincoln Center and the actress was recognized for defying stereotypes with the show.
The success of Ugly Betty and how it deals with body imaging among women in general would inspire a series of reports on Entertainment Tonight, in which reporter Vanessa Minillo went undercover in a fatsuit to see if women were discriminated on the basis of how they look.
Ugly Betty won the Outstanding Comedy Series award by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation in April 2007.
On July 19, 2007, the series received 11 nominations at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards in the Comedy category (the most of any comedy series), including Outstanding Comedy Series, Best Actress (Ferrera), Best Supporting Actress (Williams), and Best Guest Starring Actress (Hayek for her role as Sofia; Light for her role as Claire. Both lost to Elaine Stritch). It won three awards — Best Casting in a Comedy Series, Best Direction in a Comedy Series (for the show's pilot episode), and Best Actress in a Comedy Series (Ferrera).
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