25 July 2018 | michaeledward1212
Ahead of its Time
Ugly Betty is one of my all-time favorite shows, the first season is still one of my favorite seasons, and in my opinion one of the best seasons of television ever produced. The way it blended telenovela sensibilities with the American sitcom was genius. I think the show is extremely underrated, by audiences and critics alike. The user score here is a testament to that, and while Ugly Betty might not be everyone's cup of tea it accomplished most of what it set out to do, and it did it well.
Although I think the first season and a half are excellent, near perfect television, the show floundered a bit in its third season, where a new locale and crew changed the tone and a post-writers strike group of writers took the series into new, and sometimes bizarre territory. I must say that Patricia Field taking over costumes from Eduardo Castro was extremely noticeable, and the quality was still high, but the show never matched its soap opera antics of its first season, instead it become a lighter family comedy with some dramatic elements thrown in, and it still worked.
The thing that amazes me every time I rewatch the show is how timeless it feels, how groundbreaking it was, and how it paved the way for so many shows, and originated so many trends. I don't think Ugly Betty truly gets enough credit for what it did, blending comedy, drama, heartfelt storylines with grittier elements, transgender storylines and gay youth representation, in a show centered on a Mexican-American family no less.
Today there are shows like Pose, where the cast is made up of mainly transwomen, shows like Jane the Virgin that feature telenovela storytelling mixed with comedy, and a noticeable trend in sitcoms to feature more long arc story structure and greater continuity, all while including some more dramatic elements. At the time of its release, Ugly Betty was a contemporary to The Office, 30 Rock, Glee and other mainstream sitcoms that kept the tone light and the stakes lower. Meanwhile, Ugly Betty wasn't afraid to feature surreal moments and serious stories about coming out, murder and alcoholism.
Ugly Betty will forever be one of my favorite shows. And although it's never gotten the credit it deserves, its influence lives on in the risks taken by the shows that came after it, and the people who were touched by it.