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"Ugly Betty" Finishes Its Season with a Less Than Pretty Finale

One of my main complaints about Ugly Betty is its tendency to become mawkish rather than revel in its fun, soapy atmosphere. Amanda and Christina getting trapped inside Fay's love dungeon? Classic. Marc getting traded to rival designer Fabia so that Wilhelmina could score her chosen wedding day at Saint Patrick's Cathedral? Hilarious. Santos getting gunned down in a store robbery and Hilda having a mental breakdown outside the auditorium where Justin performs (and dies onstage) in West Side Story? Not so much.

Remember, please, that this is the series that won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy series, beating out NBC's The Office. Yes, that's best COMEDY series. What we've been seeing lately with storylines involving Ignacio's immigration problem, Daniel's sex addiction, and--yes--Santos' wrong place, wrong time murder just doesn't jibe with a show that can, at times (usually involving Marc, Amanda, Wilhelmina, or Justin) be laugh-out loud hilarious. It's the OTT soapiness that turn me off (and according to rival CBS, I'm not the only one, as the series has tumbled 41 percent in the ratings since it launched last fall).

So what did I find to be the most interesting thing about this week's Ugly Betty finale? The scandalous reveal that Amanda is actually the daughter of murdered Fay Sommers. Having gotten her lifetime receptionist job at Mode because her parents were friends with Fay, she's discovered that she was a hell of a lot closer to Fay than she suspected. It's a fun, soapy twist (the evidence was discovered in a red safe whose code was Fay's real measurements, in a secret room at the Mode offices) that begs the question: just who is Amanda's father? Is she a Meade? And, if so, wouldn't that mean that she was sleeping with her brother Daniel all those months?

To me, it's the rare pretty twist in Ugly Betty's rather dull and outlandish (yes, at the same time!) season finale. America Ferrara might be the titular character, but the stars that seem to shine best here are Becki Newton, Ashley Jensen, Michael Urie, Mark Indelicato, and Vanessa Williams. Here's to hoping that Season Two will downplay some of the cloying sentimentality and way-too-serious plotlines for some good, old-fashioned comedy.

Comments

Anonymous said…
If someone had never seen Ugly Betty before and you showed them the finale they would never in a million years guess that this was a show that had won Best Comedy at the Golden Globes just a few months ago.
Hilda sobbing on the floor because the father of her child was just shot and killed? Hilarious! Ignacio having more troubles with his immigration papers? I can't stop laughing!

I don't think that every moment has to be filled with laughs but what makes Betty work is the larger than life characters and the bizzaro environment that Betty works in. They need to refocus next season and find the funny again if they ever want Ugly Betty to blossom into a beautiful swan.
joshleejosh said…
The (melo)dramatic bits are a drag, but I think that Ugly Betty is executing them better than it was early in the season. Compare Santos in the convenience store to Ignacio's clunky HMO storyline, and you'll see what I mean.

The Mode staffers still get the better end of the deal, though. They get to focus on being funny and catty, with only enough personal drama to make you care. Hopefully the Suarezes (and the increasingly hard-to-watch Daniel) can find that same balance next season.
Anonymous said…
I discovered Ugly Betty when I was in the US. I really enjoyed the show and it's why I kept watching it since I am back in France. However I was a little bit disapointed about the season finale, too classic I think.
rockauteur said…
I did enjoy the season finale but I have to say the weeks leading up to it were quite boring and sleep-inducing. To change Ignacio's HMO storyline to a long-drawn out immigration plot was a bad move. Now that he is stuck in Mexico, let's hope we get to see the humor of that situation and the soap-twist of the revenge against him (which was dropped from the finale, hopefully to be discussed in the fall).

I am sad that they killed Santos. I actually liked his character, especially the moment where he defends Justin against a subway full of people and allows him to perform the music from a Broadway show (I cant remember if it was West Side Story, Grey Gardens, or Wicked that Justin performed in the subway car).

The producers also wanted to retool Vanessa William's character mid-season because she was getting too nice and sympathetic (falling for the Texas advertiser, her relationship with her daughter) but despite appearances, she IS still too nice. She may be playing Bradford but we don't get to see her devious side too much, save the moment she made Mark throw her down the stairs. Let's get Betty back to being funny!!! No more of the Henry/Charlie storyline (looks like we get Henry as a full-on regular next season)!

The real stars of the show are the characters that play Amanda, Marc, and Justin. Bring them to more of the center stage, something that seems to be gearing up with the Amanda as Fay's daughter story. Good call, Jace, that Amanda could be Daniel's sister!! That's a great twist if that happens. I do smell an Emmy nomination for the show and hopefully some supporting noms for Becky Newton and Michael Urie.
Anonymous said…
I couldn't agree more.
Anonymous said…
You all need to get over yourself, it was a great season and the finale was a good end to it all, if you don't like the show don't watch it. obviously there was a reason why it one for best comedy. Even some comedy's need a little dramatic twist in them.
rockauteur said…
Anon - A Comedy? Ugly Betty has barely been a comedy in weeks (except for any story line with Amanda or Marc).
Tom the Dog said…
After the first time, I could chalk it up to a typo, but twice in back-to-back posts, and I feel I must speak up: the word you want is jibe. Not jive.

Also, if Ugly Betty beats The Office for Best Comedy at the Emmys later this year, there is no justice.
Anonymous said…
I totally love ugly betty...also if the finale didn't appear that good!
Anonymous said…
All I have to say is this in not just a show. It is based on a popular Novela in the hispanic community and it was a great finale. It follows through with being a Novela and is absolutely a fantastic ending. It has a firm grip on you and keeps you wanting to know more. The only thing being that a Novela is broadcasted throughout give or take six months to 1 year unlike american broadcasting where you are given a little at a time. Over it all it was a great finale. A show doesn't have to be Comedy 24/7 to be comedic. It has to be somewhat believable. Things happen in life, you can't make situations such as those funny. America can be so critical when it comes to judging things. Just enjoy the show and stop complaning. Leave the critizism to Simon Cowell and all those other British Blokes that love perfection.
Anonymous said…
I love UB just the way it is. Its a Drama and its just down right hilarious too! Kinda like desperate housewives. If it was jst a comedy i certainly wouldnt like it that much and neither would it be a success. I especially LOVED the finale it was produced excellently, and I am just itching to see season two. Its what makes my fridays extra special.
Anonymous said…
Anon, if you loved it that much, you'd know it was on Thursday nights.
Anonymous said…
Its on at 9pm at fridays in England.
Anonymous said…
Yes in the UK its on Wednesday, Friday and also Sunday just incase you miss it. I love the show, I but I am getting annoyed about the Betty/Henry storyline. I just want them to get together. We all know its going to happen..
Anonymous said…
Ugly Betty Rocks!
Anonymous said…
Anyone know when the next season starts. Woo go betty!
Anonymous said…
i think that alexis shouldent of used anything related to bradford because she knew that she had set up a plan to murder bradford, but now there gone thats 2 characters out of of the picture and santos is dead too so thats three funny charaters out of the picture.
Anonymous said…
Heather,

There are other countries besides the US you know. Oh but I forgot, thats just typical of you narrow mined Americans! Wake up! Oh and just to throw another one at you, Ugly Betty screens on SUNDAYS in Australia.
Oh and the show is awesome. As for the office,, well after about 3 shows, I defianlty cannot say much for it. It's the same old usually style of comedy. At least UB is a different type of comedy. Much better that the office.
Anonymous said…
Subliminal,

Get a clue? Ugly Betty better than THE OFFICE? A cold day in hell, more likely. How in god's name is The Office the "same old usually style of comedy"? Whatever that means? If you're going to call someone else narrow minded, you might as well spell it properly. Idiot. You went and proved my point!
Anonymous said…
Does anyone knows when Ugly betty Season 2 will take start?
Anonymous said…
Ugly Betty season 2 premiers September 27.
Anonymous said…
Santos' out-of-nowhere death did not work. I hope he's alive, though I doubt it. I may not watch anymore if he's not.
Anonymous said…
if you havent noticed...ITS AN AMERICANIZED VERSION OF THE LATIN SOAP OPERA. and latin soaps are filled with twists and turns drama... so yes, its going to have some drama in there. sorry to dissapoint, but u cant have a show about a girl completely filled with comedy all the time. it just would work just like will and grace all the other comedy shows, they all include some kind of drama only that this one has more of a soap twist to it.
Anonymous said…
oh and to add the comment i just left, i appreciate the fact that ugly betty shows issues that actually do happen to its lead, just like every other minority out there. it shines light on some of the issues that we face.
Anonymous said…
It always amazes me how people, probably adults, will use any chance and any kind of medium to completely insult each other and reduce themselves to..well, I don't even think children behave like this. We are supposed to be discussing ugly betty. Come on people, learn to be civil, or get a life. Anyway, back to why I'm really posting, I just have one thing to say about ugly betty, fantastic. I laugh, I cry, I get pissed off, I get anxious...and that to me is what makes the best season of anything I've seen so far. Well done!

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