Ugly Betty‘s Lovely Ending

17 Apr
<i>Ugly Betty</i>‘s Lovely Ending

So who else watched Ugly Betty‘s series finale? Just me, huh? Sigh.

2006 was a great year for American scripted television. It saw the debut of personal favorites 30 Rock, Dexter, Big Love, Friday Night Lights, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (shut up!), and Ugly Betty. Not to mention fan favorites such as Jericho, Eureka, Brothers & Sisters and Psych among others that I don’t really care about. Of course, it also gave us Hannah Montana, Flavor of Love and The Hills but Ace of Cakes and Top Chef make up for that, I think. Let us pretend, anyway.

Four years later, 30 Rock and Dexter are going as strong as ever although it’ll be interesting to see how far and how long they can keep it up on the latter. Friday Night Lights could never quite match up to that perfect first season that about 10 of us watched alongside every single TV critic, but this red headed step child of NBC will finally call it quits next year after being shunted off to DirecTV two years ago. Big Love was recently renewed for a fifth season but I’ve stopped caring. Studio 60 famously, and deservedly, bit it the very first season.

And now it’s Ugly Betty. None of the series that caught my fancy that year were anything like each other in tone or writing or characters but Betty was the standout. It was smart, funny, heartwarming, and fun. Everything from its premise to its cast and crew made you sit up and take notice. When Betty (America Ferrera) walked into the offices of Mode wearing that horrendous poncho, it immediately spoke to the repressed memories of faux pas past.

Over that first season, as Betty and her braces found their feet at Mode, we met a bunch of insane, narcissistic, borderline evil, shallow, over-enthusiastic, painfully naive, freaks who totally won us over. And then the second and third seasons happened, and most of us got over it. Opinion is divided as to why.

Executive producer Silvio Horta thinks they should have let America (Ferrera) be America – i.e. jaw-droppingly gorgeous – a lot sooner rather than waiting for this last season to take the fake braces off. I can definitely see how the changed dynamic might have breathed new life into the show (it certainly did it for the last few episodes albeit in truncated fashion), and appreciate that the writers were probably forced to trim a season’s worth of storylines into three episodes.

Critic Dave Hiltbrand thinks it was the opposite: the whole thing became too fairy-tale-ish once Betty starting upgrading her boyfriends to multi-millionaire levels. Which: are we talking about the same multi-millionaire? Because Matt “I’m a victim of my good fortune” Hartley was my least favorite of Betty’s boyfriends. Even Walter was more interesting.

People who stuck by it to the bittersweet end think it was just the timing that did it in.

All I can say is that this was a cancellation that did not come out of the blue as far as I was concerned. I wasn’t crossing my fingers, I didn’t throw a tantrum about TPTB canceling everything good on TV and it wasn’t writing furious emails to anyone. But the last three episodes made up for all that.

From the Suarez family dealing with Justin’s sexuality (“What is wrong with you people?” a horrified Marc breathes in one of the funniest scenes I’ve ever seen – so much so, I won’t spoil it for you); Hilda getting her happy ever after; Amanda getting her heart’s desire after claiming the “orange doughnut”; Wilhemina succeeding on sheer merit after she and Claire get their Dynasty on; Marc standing up for himself after playing guardian angel to Justin; Daniel falling for his best friend; to Betty walking tall and gorgeous through the crowded streets of London – it was perfect.

The thing I loved most about Betty was its writing; its ability to take heavy issues and cringe-inducing situations, and handle them with grace and humor without diminishing its import. Somewhere between seasons 2 and 3, it lost that and turned into various characters’ endless audition for romance. They paid the price for that but made amends with these last three episodes, but especially the finale.

Maybe they’ll go the Sex and the City route and turn it into a movie franchise (I’ll watch!), but I love where they left everybody.


Posted by on April 17, 2010 in Entertainment, Television, Video


6 responses to “Ugly Betty‘s Lovely Ending

  1. DewdropDream

    April 17, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    I loved Ugly Betty for the very reasons you’ve quoted. It was very cliched in places but something about it always made me come away with a good feeling thinking, oh all’s right in the end then. I haven’t watched it in ages but I loved the feel of the show. The background scores especially, very apt. And god, such funny lines! While I might have looked forward to the prettification of Betty, I’m glad they did not take the easy way out and do it early on and turn it into a soap.

    And I liked Gio the best. He had spunk.

    Right, guess it’s time to catch up and finish the series 🙂

  2. Wise Burger

    April 17, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    “Betty and her braces found their feet at Mode” – heehee. I remember watching the first few episodes and wondering when she’s gonna be all “bite me” instead of “walk all over me”.

    Too bad I hadn’t lingered long enough to see the season finale. Sounds lovely indeed — much like that movie they made from the Lauren Weisberger first-book, with The Meryl Devil wearing poor Hathaway out! 😀

  3. savvy

    April 17, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Well the beauty of the tv series is in a proper ending. . I’ve not seen the season finale (i’m not even a regular viewer) of Ugly Betty, but i think it was necessary as every good thing must come to an end. But Indian tv series i’m sure will take no lesson from it. . They just keep on stretching the storyline like an elastic or a chewing gum till the day it snaps all of a sudden leaving the viewers with unfinished storyline. .

  4. Gradwolf

    April 17, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    Ok, this is not going to be about Ugly Betty at all.

    This is three years too late and should probably be in your earlier post, but here goes. Hey, I loved Studio 60! Well, not all of it, but it was a pretty good show. The first 10 episodes or so were so kickass and the Pilot is probably the best of all Pilots I have ever seen. And Mathew Perry completely owned it. Who knew, some might ask but I always thought that guy was uber talented.

    Yes, it was extremely indulgent on Sorkin’s part but I think most of these extremely intelligent and talented guys tend to go that way at some point(Kamal Haasan?!) and I think it’s overrated as a criticism. Buy yes, after episode 12 or so, it was soppy and committed familiar mistakes. Jordan’s character was so inconsistent, the transition from being this super tough bitch to a woman devoid of self confidence was hard to take.

    But I wish they had given it another chance. I am sure we can come up with shows that were less good and have made it to four or five seasons. And the fact remains that 30 Rock and Studio 60 were fighting for one spot, and Studio 60 had better ratings. 30 Rock made it because Studio 60 was more expensive to make.

    And we need to see more of Mathew Perry everywhere. On television, and if possible, on movie screens. Jude Aptow can use him really really well. And am waiting for Mr. Sunshine(?), the pilot episode of which has been shot, or so says Matt on twitter.

    I *heart* Amanda Peet!


    I am sure you saw these

    I know you don’t do on-demand writing, but let me see if this muted request works. If you haven’t realized, I *heart* Tina Fey. Who doesn’t?

  5. Amrita

    April 19, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    3D – I LOVED Gio and Betty was such a raging bitch to him. I did not understand it at all. He really GOT Betty from the very first and when he showed up in one of the last epis, I went “awww” because he still gets her best. Still, they werent made for each other and that was very clear by the time the finale ended. Sigh.

    Wise Burger – it was great once Betty found her gumption esp because she did it without losing any of her sweetness. 🙂 I think you could totally watch the finale even if you havent been keeping up with it because its all the same characters they started out with and they each get their happy ever after. Very nice.

    Savvy – well, maybe those YRF shows? I wonder if they mean to make seasons out of them.

    Adithya – of course I do on-demand writing! Just when I have something to add, is all! Erm.. just as soon as I figure out what it is you want? I’m running a bit slow today.
    Also: YAY! Fellow Sorkin addict!

  6. Michael Clade

    April 19, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    I have to say that my favorite tv show is 30 rock! I love Liz Lemon (Tina Fey).. The way she acts just cracks me up haha

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