Wednesday, April 30, 2008

REMOTE TVictim #1: UGLY BETTY, viewed over Studio 23, Tuesday, April 29

(This blog series is my take on various TV shows that I don't watch on a regular basis. I review just one episode, and will most likely not do so based on context or series "mythology." What you are about to read is rather shortsighted, often biased, and probably loopy. Please do not be offended if I diss your all-time favorite TV show at one point, or if I adore the ones you hate.)

Ugly Betty isn't ugly. She's just frumpy and unadorned next to the likes of Salma Yayek and Vanessa Williams in their sleek designer wardrobe and matte make-up. I kinda like her as a heroine, because she gets to place herself firmly in multiple worlds--her ordinarily comfy home, and her ultra-glossy office. In this particular episode, she goes to a male strip dancer's club to investigate her boss' (Salma Hayek's Sophie) amorous past with a nordic heartthrob-cum-stripclub dancer. What brought this on? She's concerned for her former boss (Daniel--don't know the actor's name, sorry), who was cornered into proposing to Sophie with a few manipulative words, gestures and events. It turns out that Betty was right: Sophie reveals all in a morning talk show that Daniel was a successful "experiment", her proof that a headstrong, devious woman can siphon a proposal off a confirmed bachelor if she just knew the steps. The result: a magazine cover story entitled "From Fling to Ring in 60 Days." Humiliated, Daniel leaves the studio, but not before Sophie sort of confesses that "You're more than what I thought you were."

I actually cried right there.

Frankly, this episode can pass for a romantic comedy flick, starring the likes of perpetually perky Drew Barrymore and perpetually ditzy Cameron Diaz. I think it's a well-written one hour, very compact, and insightful, especially for me who don't follow this series. I'm not sure, but did America Ferrera win a Golden Globe or an Oscar for this role? She deserves it. The ensemble cast is a director's dream, I bet. They may be stereotypes, but they wear their roles really well. Towards the show's end, just before Betty throws her "I quit" line to Sophie, she defends her previous boss and officemates, saying something like, "they may be shallow and self-absorbed, but at least they know it, and they don't pretend to be anything else." Cat fight, next episode?

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