Ugly Betty

18 11 2007

I started catching up on Ugly Betty during transpond flights. One more roundtrip and I’m caught up entirely. D will mock me for this but I find this Emmy-winning dramedy extremely entertaining and fascinating. It follows the life of the unglamorous (ugly) but well humoured Betty and her incongruous job (the fashion montage song from “The Devil Wears Prada” you hear above even ends the pilot episode) at an ultrachic fashion magazine in NYC. Has this been done before? Yes. The series is an adaptation of the Colombian telenovela Yo soy Betty, la fea (“I am Betty, the ugly one”) but filmed as a network drama using motion picture grade film rather than the videotape of the original series. It has many remarkable things going for it. The fashion magazine HQ are shot as space age soulless designed iPod quality rooms, while the home in Queens (there is ALWAYS a nearly silent subway passing by overhead if any┬ácharacter is in front of the wrought iron rowhouses) is a rich pastiche of colour and vibrant emotion. It telegraphs you over the head with the message that beauty comes from within, which we all know is so untrue while spewing out garish stereotypes of illegal immigrants, borough’d latinos, pill poppers, cosmetic surgery addicts and flouncy gays nonstop. It does not stop there. Previous iterations include Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin (“There is None like Jassi”, India), La Fea mas Bella (The Most Beautiful Ugly Woman, Mexico), Lotte (Netherlands), Yo Soy Bea (Spain), Falling in Love in Berlin (Germany) and Born Ugly (Russia), but only the yank revision is quite faithful with a younger less ugly Bett commuting with irascible hideous fashion sense from Queens, immigrant central, to the Manhattan business district. You realize that the beautiful people on this show are really the ugly people though that should not stop you from ogling at anorexic gorgeous shallow people that makes us buy all those fashionistic product lines. Hat tip to J.