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Bored with Betty

January 15, 2007

Am I the only person who’s a little bit disappointed with Ugly Betty (Fridays Ch4, 9.30pm)? We were promised something amazing, something different. But actually, something much better came along first and does it better.

I like the character-driven stuff – the scenes with her family, the fabulous nephew, but I don’t think it’s working as a comedy/mystery (a la the god-awful Dessy Wives). We don’t need all this What did Jim off Neighbours do to the ex-MD? I don’t mind kooky dramedies (My Name Is Earl is perfection) but it’s when it gets too kooky and too ridiculous that I get annoyed and stop watching. The first series of Dessy Wives was gripping, but as soon as Bree’s son started bribing her for the murder of her husband, I switched off. And I can see this happening with Betty. I know I’ll get lynched for this, but if Ugly Betty was more Sex And The City and less Dessy Wives, then it might work better – less of the comedy more of the kooky drama.

The way they depict working on a magazine really grates. I’m sure that for magazines like Elle and Vogue (which Mode is clearly based on) there is a large team of creatives and their assistants. And I know they have a room dedicated to clothes. And maybe over in America there is such a thing as ‘the book’. And maybe they do call the flannel panel a masthead. But over here, there is no ‘book’ (unless you’re re designing, which only happens once every few years), a masthead is on the front of the magazine and is not made up of people’s names but the name of the magazine, and working on one is not that thrilling! Sure there are days when it gets a bit mad and stressy/exhilarating. And if you’re lucky you do get to meet some very interesting people. But at the end of the day, it’s an office job. Not at all glamorous.

I was really looking forward to seeing Ashley Jenson go to work in a major US comedy. But she’s left treading water, taking in gulps and choking. First off, a fashion editor (or whatever she’s meant to be) would never have such a strange sense of style, she’d be a lot thinner (especially in the vacuous world of Mode) and she’d probably be the least tolerant of Betty’s kookiness. Jensen’s character comes across as weird, mad and annoying and I can’t bear her when she’s on screen. A shame as I really loved her as Maggie in Extras.

Another problem with Ugly Betty is that Betty isn’t. She’s clearly a beauty with glasses, bad hair and braces. I’m just waiting for the inevitable transformation episode where her boss will fall in love with her. I’ve seen the first five eps of the series and while it’s easy popcorn viewing and it’s fun and girly to look at pretty (and not-so-pretty) clothes for an hour, it’s no where near as brilliant as My Name Is Earl. And I regret having let this sterling series slip by the wayside in favour of drivel like Dessy Wives and Invasion…

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