Thursday, 4 August 2011

What we can all learn from Betty Suarez:
or, Why watching Ugly Betty all day isn’t a complete waste of my life

I don’t know if you are aware of the television equivalent of crack that is BT vision On Demand, but it is MAGIC. It’s like having whole boxsets of tv series in your house ready and waiting (basically begging) to be watched... without having to actually go out and buy them (or go down less legally sound routes). The range of programmes includes some weird and wonderful things: I have seen thing about the real murderers who inspired Silence of the Lambs, and a programme about Vampirism through history (this programme showed actual decomposing bodies). Yes, I’ll watch anything. Naturally, as soon as Ugly Betty appeared on the programme list I started to watch it as if it were some kind of life support. Ugly Betty is my distraction when I’m tidying or ironing, and my reward for calling a stranger, sending an application (or managing to get out of bed). I want to be in Betty’s family. I want to have hugs from Ignacio, have Hilda on my side (wearing her “big ring” in case I need her to beat anyone up for me), and I want to go and see shows on Broadway with Justin. But Betty is the best. I don’t have a sister, but if I did, I would want her to be just like Betty.
So, in an attempt to prove that watching Ugly Betty isn’t a waste of time, here is the list of things that I am going to learn from Betty:

Betty never gives up hope. Even in the most ridiculous and bonkers situations she manages to look on the positive side and keep thinking of solutions. Betty never assumes that she has messed it up for good and should just give up and live her wardrobe, instead she does her best, accepts her failures and tries better next time.

Normally the word ambition/ambitious makes me feel a little ill. To me it is synonymous with greed and ruthlessness. I think of people who might go on the apprentice (I’ve never watched the apprentice because I would rather slice off my own foot) and proudly tell us that they would happily sell their own grandma if they could make a profit.  But with Betty I finally get how ambition can be a positive thing. Betty has a dream and just works hard to achieve it. Betty’s ambition is about knowing what she wants from her life and working to earn it. It’s not greed and single-minded determination that makes Betty ambitious, but her belief that she deserves to fulfil her dream and is willing work hard to achieve it.  
Betty has the self-belief to know that she deserves what she wants and that she can have it if she works for it. 

I know it sounds boring, I have even heard Betty described as a goody two-shoes (isn’t that that oddest expression? She always has two shoes? What a prude), but Betty always does the right thing. When she discovers that Connor is embezzling millions from the company, she speaks up, despite the $100,000 is given to keep quiet. She doesn’t let the bitchy world of Mode ruin her and, to everyone’s surprise, manages to get ahead by being nice to people and always doing the right thing. Which leads us to...

Betty always keeps her essential Betty-ness. Betty grows and changes as a character, but she doesn’t allow others to change her. This can be seen in her clothes: despite all the teasing she receives for her clothes, Betty doesn’t change the way she dresses.  In the face of all the mocking Betty keeps her head up and carries on being herself. Betty’s style does evolve, by the last season Wilhelmina actually compliments her, but it’s a natural evolution that comes from Betty, herself. What we don’t see is the big makeover, you know, the ugly-duckling-to-swan type of makeover you find in films like The Devil Wears Prada. There was nothing wrong with Betty as she was, she just didn’t fit in and she could do her job and succeed even with the weirdest clothes. The same is true of Betty’s attitude, she is always herself and she ultimately triumphs by being herself.

I’m not going to start dressing like Betty all the time! But I think we can all learn that it doesn’t really matter if we wear something a little out of the ordinary. If you dress a little crazily one of two things will happen: either no one will actually notice, or they will soon get used to it and then forget. It really doesn’t matter! They are just clothes!

(Another plus point for Ugly Betty is the gorgeous Eric Mabius. Yes, at first he is a bit of a prat, but by the third season (when he meets and marries Molly) he is HOT. )


  1. Ah, Daniel. I still remember the first time I watched Cruel Intentions after watching Ugly Betty, and going 'Oh my GAWD, the closeted gay guy who has sex with Joshua Jackson is Daniel Meade!'
    Also, just yes yes and yes. But then again, I find myself loving every single Ugly Betty character at some point, even Wilhelmina. IT'S SO GOOD! Why do they cancel everything I love?!

  2. I just don't know. Apparently Ugly Betty didn't do as well in US as it did here for the last few seasons :(

  3. This is all so true, I love Betty's family :) x