Ugly Betty has a lot going for it, but as the season goes on a couple of things are starting to get my radar twitching. I’m watching the show on the US schedule, so I’ll try not to include any spoilers for Channel 4 viewers.
1) I’m sick of seeing Betty run around acting like Daniel Meade’s mother. She puts in a huge number of hours at a crappy job for a small pay cheque. On those occasions when she gets creative input, she invariably gives the credit to her boss.
Betty’s fabulous opportunity to be assistant to the editor at Mode fashion magazine isn’t really that great. She wants to be a journalist, but in reality becoming a secretary at a magazine is not a great way to land a journalistic job.
Once more, when Betty gets a career break later in the season, based on a review she wrote, it turns out that she’s still going to be someone’s assistant.
2) All the women in positions of power are evil. From Vanessa Williams’ Wilhelmina Slater to the lawyer who runs off with the Suarez’s money. And [SPOILER ALERT!] I was really disappointed that Sophia Reyes, the fiesty editor of MYW magazine, played by Salma Hayek, turns out to be so manipulative. And that she claims that she is behaving like an “empowered” woman for, essentially, snagging a man.
On the other hand, the show does portray fully realised female characters. Because it’s based on a telenovela, it has a lot of fun with outlandish female villains. The men are generally very dull. And it’s produced by a woman – Salma Hayek.
You might also add that Betty’s nephew is a little boy who breaks down gender barriers, with an interest in fashion, and it also articulates the reactions against that, by the boy’s father, etc. Although some feel that is problematic.
There’s obviously lots more that could be said about how the show tackles class issues, immigration, racism, etc. But for the moment, I’m undecided.