SHOW: Ugly Betty
NOW SHOWING: Season 4 premieres Wednesday, August 11, at 9pm.
AIRS: Wednesdays at 9 pm on E4 and E4 HD.
WHY YOU MIGHT LOVE IT: Who wouldn't love to watch a brace-faced, four-eyed, mismatched nice girl work her way up the ladder at a fashion magazine? Betty is the best kind of underdog.
WHY YOU MIGHT HATE IT: Most of the clothes are campy, most of the acting is overdone, and most of the premise is superficial. It's kind of like "The Devil Wears Prada" -- in technicolor.
THE PREMISE: Our heroine, Betty Suarez (America Ferrera), sports glasses, braces, multi-patterned clothing, a big smile, a kind heart, and an honest work ethic. In Season 1, she nabbed an assistant spot at MODE, a prestigious NYC fashion magazine, because of her less-than-runway-ready looks. She's been working there ever since -- much to the chagrin of her bitchy co-workers. Meanies include MODE Creative Director Wilhelmina Slater (Vanessa Williams), her assistant Marc St. James (Michael Urie), receptionist Amanda Tanen (Becki Newton), and almost everyone else she meets on the job. She does, however, have loyal friends in Daniel Meade (Eric Mabius), heir apparent to the MODE throne, and Henry Grubstick (Christopher Gorham), an accountant she has a crush on. Betty also has a tight family, including father Ignacio (Tony Plana), sister Hilda (Ana Ortiz), and nephew Justin (Mark Indelicato).
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: In Season 1, Betty was hired as Editor-in-Chief Daniel's assistant -- he was a notorious womanizer who needed an unattractive assistant to stay focused. She dealt with her new life at MODE and began to date Henry while Daniel hooked up with various women and Creative Director Wilhelmina plotted to overthrow him. But in Season 2, Henry moved to Tucson to help his ex-girlfriend raise her baby, so Betty dated Gio (Freddy Rodriguez), a deli worker. Meanwhile, Wilhelmina decided to steal Daniel's late father Bradford's (Alan Dale) sperm and combine them with her eggs in a surrogate to form a Meade-blooded child -- and thus gain control of the Meade magazine empire. The Meade family fired Wilhelmina for, well, being wack, and Daniel was demoted to Editor-in-Chief of a smaller publication. On to Season 3! Alexis (Rebecca Romijn), MODE's new Editor-in-Chief and Daniel's evil brother-turned-sister (hello, sex change operation!) re-hired Wilhelmina in as Creative Director, and Daniel returned triumphant as Editor-in-Chief when Alexis went to jail. Another love interest for Betty -- Matt -- entered the picture, and the couple considered moving in together. The company took an economic turn for the worse when the CFO, Connor (Grant Bowler) ran off with all of MODE's money, so Matt's father agreed to fund the magazine, eventually appointing Claire (Judith Light), Daniel's mother, as Creative Director. Wilhelmina became Claire's subordinate. When we last saw the UB crew, Matt had broken things off with Betty after Henry had returned and kissed her, Wilhelmina had a surprise visitor, and every other character had his or her own set of thoroughly-tangled problems.
As the title implies, Betty is the focal point of the show, and her love life is the focal point for fans. Metaphorically speaking, Henry is Betty's Mr. Big and Matt is her Aidan (Matt is a really nice guy, but Henry is her true love). Fans are also loyal to the story of Betty and Daniel's friendship, which has grown deeply as the show has progressed. Despite their differing backgrounds and personalities, they've developed a trust that has outlasted the tenuous connections and faux-friendships whirling around the MODE office.
Ugly Betty's over-the-top, drama-heavy plots can be attributed to its past: The show is based on Betty la fea, a Colombian telenovela. Salma Hayek is one of the producers of the American version of the show.