Having heard much about Ugly Betty, I was curious to see it. I believe it’s based on some Mexican soap opera, which would appear to explain the more ridiculous elements such as the brother, believed dead, who comes back as a sister, or Betty’s clearly unnecessary braces and inability to find a decent hairdresser.
Betty ends up getting a job as the assistant to Daniel Meade, the editor-in-chief at a fashion magazine called Mode, because she’s shag-proof. She manages to survive in this world of pretty, pretty unpleasant people and steer her boss through one crisis after another. Thanks to Betty, he becomes a better person. But he’s not safe on his throne with Wilhelmina Slater, the magazine’s creative director, and a mysterious woman, plotting to take over the magazine. The mysterious woman was formerly Daniel’s older brother, Alex, believed to be dead, but now a woman (Alexis). It turns out that Alexis’ desire for revenge against her father is misplaced as it turns out their mother was responsible for the death of the previous editor-in-chief who was also the mistress of the paterfamilias, Bradford Meade.
If that wasn’t enough, Betty’s father turns out to have been an illegal immigrant, who’s then stalked by his case worker. Her nephew’s absentee father reappears, but has problems coping with his son being more than a little gay. (There’s a lot of being accepted for who you are and being happy with who you are as a counterpoint to the shallow and highly critical world of Mode magazine.)
As you can see from the basic outline, this is daytime soap opera stuff. It’s kind of a melodrama, with the emphasis being on mellow. It’s different from most series where characters remain monotonously the same. Daniel becomes a better person, which kind of thwarts some of the plots against him, but will Betty lose her braces if this survives for a few years and actually get her hair cut by a trained professional?
I might continue to watch the series in the future, but more because it’s something to watch rather than because it’s something I really want to watch. As I’ve noted in the past, I tend to like TV series for which I have a degree of empathy. With Ugly Betty, I don’t really have any empathy, hence my rather lukewarm view of it.