Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Monday, July 20, 2015

I'm Betty-fied...

My mother used to watch Ugly Betty every week and loved it. I only saw a couple of episodes and didn't get why, but I wound up with the first season's DVD set and decided to watch it ...and it's amazing. The way the show combines over-the-top humor with real-life tragedy is startling. Some of it's clumsy but when it hits, it's out of the park.

America Ferrera does well as Betty, the homely girl with adult braces and cutesy innocence who tries to do the right thing. But by working at Mode, a world where she is nothing but a joke to everyone, she's becoming someone who is adjusting her sense of morality to the real world. When she first shows up, you know she's never even lied to her father. By the end of the first season, she's dumped her boyfriend, started upgrading her wardrobe and put her family on the back burner so many times, she's become the unreliable one.

Michael Urie as Marc St. James is like her polar opposite -- super queen, super nasty, superficial to the max, and yet adorable in a way I can't quiet understand. The show gives him flashes of humanity -- like when his mother rejects him for being gay after he stands up for Betty's family -- and he's damned good at his job as Wilhelmina's assistant. Always in the moment.

Vanessa Williams kills as Wilhelmina Slater. High Queen Bitch whose life revolves around her scheming to gain control of Mode Magazine. She's verging on descending into old age, is scared underneath her gloss and glamour, and will be damned if she'l let anyone know it. She has lovers, not love.

Eric Mabius is a bit bland as Daniel Meade but is beginning to work as the younger brother who's always been dismissed as worthless. Rebecca Romajn is surprising as the transexual Alexis (a nod to Alexis Arquette, who underwent her transition as this show was just beginning to be shot?) and to be honest, 10 years ago I would not have believed a man could be made to look like her...but since Lavergne Cox did it, I'm convinced.

What startled me was the show's willingness to show tragedy along with the comedy. One character is murdered at the end of the first season, in a robbery. While in Mexico, Betty goes looking for her grandmother only to find it was not meant to be in a heartbreaking way.

I found the other three seasons on ebay and bought them. Cheap, too. Which is what I need. It's giving me ideas for my work...and affecting UG in surprising ways.

Should be interesting...

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