“Ugly Betty” Is Still a Must-See

Illustration by Maliheh Rahrovan

Betty Suarez’s idea of a cute, yet totally professional outfit for her first day on the job is a poncho.

Produced by famed actress Salma Hayek, “Ugly Betty” begins with 22-year-old Betty Suarez (America Ferrera), a Mexican-American girl who aspires to be a writer. Betty lives at home in New York City with her father Ignacio, older sister Hilda, and Hilda’s young son, Justin. Despite her quirky fashion sense, adult braces and naïvete, Betty lands a job at Mode, a highly-esteemed fashion magazine owned by none other than wealthy publishing mogul Bradford Meade. She starts out as personal assistant to newly added editor-in-chief Daniel, who also happens to be Bradford's son (Eric Mabius). She was given the position as a means to hinder Daniel’s notorious reputation of sleeping with his assistants.

Betty’s first days at Mode are definitely far from perfect. For one, she has to face the magazine’s merciless Creative Director Wilhelmina “Willie” Slater (Vanessa Williams) who constantly schemes to steal Daniel’s position. Things don't get easier for Betty when Wilhelmina’s assistant, Marc, begins to form a rivalry against her. Marc relentlessly ridicules Betty’s odd fashion choices alongside Mode receptionist, Amanda, at every given opportunity.. However, Betty develops close friendships along the way and becomes stronger through all the disasters thrown at her. “Ugly Betty” is the perfect mix of humor, romance and family, and that’s why it's one of the most relevant shows to watch right now.

Themes of the Show:

Every character in Ugly Betty has their own story, bringing something new and refreshing to the table. The diversity in the show is accurately represented — it’s subtle yet hard to miss. You can feel the authenticity of Hispanic culture from the enchiladas cooking in Ignacio’s kitchen to the bits of Spanglish heard around the house. You also see LGBTQ representation throughout the series as Betty’s nephew, Justin, struggles to come out to his family. All the while, Daniel learns to be accepting of his older brother, whom he’d previously thought had died in a plane crash, but was indeed alive and had come out as a trans woman. The issue of immigration recurs as well, following the potential deportation of Betty’s father back to Mexico. Other significant themes include friendship, love, staying true to oneself and the importance of family.

It’s So Relatable

As young adults, a lot of us have no idea what our paths are, where we’re going to end up after school or even what we want to do in life. Betty experiences these struggles too. Over and over, Betty wonders if she should remain at her current position, or whether being a personal assistant at a fashion magazine is what she really wants for herself. Throughout the series, you’ll watch Betty mature as a young woman, see her move out and buy her own apartment, fall in love and have her heart broken for the first time.

Why This Show is Especially  Important for Women

“Ugly Betty” has the strongest and most realistic feminist themes of any show I’ve ever watched. For the most part, it’s because of Betty’s incredible inner strength, her ambition and her ability to overcome even the most painful hardships. Betty rocks glasses and braces like no other; her self-confidence despite the superficiality around her is so inspiring, and her sweet personality just makes you root for her even more. Despite the industry’s tendency to encourage only a specific body type, Betty never lets insecurity trouble her. Instead, she fights to show the world how the fashion industry can express hope and truth rather than negativity.

Wilhelmina Slater is another feminist figure in the show. Not only are her one-liners legendary, but her journey to become the formidable creative director of Mode magazine is breathtaking in itself. 

Wilhelmina is also never afraid to tell it like it is. My personal favorite lines from her include, "I could make an effort to be liked but I'd rather be hated than inconvenienced" and "I swear, Marc, if you took a picture of me on your cell phone, I will kill you and eat you."

It’s Just Hilarious

“Ugly Betty” is an amazing show to watch if you’re just looking for a laugh. It has wacky plot twists, unexpected cameos and sass overload. Every character has their own unique sense of humor and is easy to invest in. Betty, herself, feels like more of a friend than a fictional character. Every episode is laugh-out-loud hilarious and has the ability to brighten any mood.

There are plenty of television networks like Hulu and ABC that stream episodes of “Ugly Betty.” So, check this show out and I guarantee it will change your life for the better — or your fashion sense at least.