Ugly Betty


The Husband:

After a season of wildly fluctuating success, Ugly Betty finished off its season with style and grace, and even though some stories ended up deflating considerably, others found a bit of truth in them, while one caught me completely off-guard. After what I thought was a damn good fall half of the season – some would disagree with me, especially in regards to one Ms. Lohan, but if anything, the comedy was top-notch for this show at that point – everything just kind of dropped off, and with the exception of all the YETI drama, the only thing that really got me through was Betty’s relationship with Matt.

But what’s been going on since I last checked in? David Rasche, who will forever be Sledge Hammer to me, came in as Matt’s billionaire father Cal Hartley to save the near-bankrupt Meade Publications and threw everything for a loop, pissing both Daniel and Wilhemina in the process. It’s always tough when you have an owner who knows virtually nothing about fashion and seems to design the magazine around how his dick feels. I guess that rubbed off on Matt early in his life, as we found out episodes earlier that he had been a bit of a he-bitch man-whore. (Cal Hartley, btw, once impregnated Claire Meade, but that’s neither here nor there, as the baby never came to be.)

In other news: you know that Slater-Meade baby that was created inside Christina using Wilhelmina’s egg and dead Bradford’s sperm? Turns out that, after Christina caused some major issues by becoming too attached to the child, the baby is actually hers, as she had relations with her estranged husband right around the same time as the Slater-Meade child was put in her. Hey, shit happens. This in turn led to the much-publicized exit of actress Ashley Jensen, my beloved Scottish lass from Extras, in a respectable bit of non-insanity (which is surprising from this show). I will miss you, dear Ms. Jensen. I can’t wait to see where your career goes next.

And while Marc loses any true upward mobility at YETI, he redeems his earlier vicious ways by having a nice heart-to-heart with young Justin Suarez, who was crushed upon being rejected from LaGuardia High School (a.k.a. the Fame school), only to have Marc tell him that he was also a product of the public school system, and look how fabulous he turned out.

Im just going to imagine that the mannequin is a physical manifestation of Mollys cancer. Its a lot more interesting that way.

I'm just going to imagine that the mannequin is a physical manifestation of Molly's cancer. It's a lot more interesting that way.

Meanwhile, Daniel Meade has to deal with what I consider a fairly big fail in regards to his story with Molly. I dug the love square that put them together and I really liked Molly herself as a character, but once they finally became a couple, the writers just stopped caring. I understand the need for conflict, but having Molly’s cancer resurface was, in my opinion, lazy and cruel. All you’re really telling us is that Daniel can’t be happy, and when he tries to become a better man, it only hurts everybody else. What kind of message is that? And as the disease ate away at Molly, they threw out any semblance of interest in the character, only redeeming themselves (slightly) with the finale where Daniel pulls a Perry-Cox-On-Scrubs-In-That-Episode-With-Brendan-Fraser and hallucinates Molly being with him at the award show, only to find out that she had died at home that day.

But I’ve been stalling. What the hell happened to Betty? After succeeding considerably at YETI and scoring a junior editing position at a major publication (I forget which), the one and only Bernadette Peters abuses her privilege as Betty’s mentor and steals the job right out from under her. While I feel like the Bern was underused on this show, that was a damn great way to get the Great Red-Haired One out of the show and into that corner of our mind that remembers miniscule details of prime-time soap opera plots a decade down the line. And thus, Betty and Marc begin to battle for an editing job at Mode, thanks to the suicide of the previous reclusive editor Rachel Dratch (in a very bizarre role as identical twins). While Betty gets the job simply based on a coin toss, she has other shit to deal with. That’s right, Henry’s back in town.

It’s not entirely important what led to the big finale, but know this: while Henry came into town (after being involved in that whole crazy murder plot off the coast of Washington over on CBS Saturday nights) he technically had a girlfriend with him there in NY, he still managed to reignite Betty’s loins, or at least long enough to have Matt spy them having a final goodbye makeout session in a random NYC park. And as Betty loses Henry as he leaves town once again, Matt dumps her once and for all. But we’re not done with Matt, not by a longshot, because after all of this emotional wreckage, he has a surprise for her: as his father owns Meade Publications, Matt will now be working at Mode as Betty’s boss. And thus, a romantic interest becomes next season’s big villain, and I will readily admit that I did not see it coming.

So yes. It wasn’t a great season. It really couldn’t recover once Rebecca Romjin left to have her twins, and it’s also a shame that Amanda really wasn’t given much of a story at any point. But I love the way Marc came into his own this year, I liked everything revolving around any member of the Hartley clan, and while I wished that Daniel would be treated more sympathetically as a character, his arc with Molly was good while it lasted.

I’ll see you on Friday nights next season, Ugly Betty, which will hopefully not be your last season despite basically being pushed into a death slot. I wish Dollhouse as much luck as possible opposite you, and as I do not watch either Southland or Medium and cannot really pass judgment, I just hope that enough viewers find your bright and breezy counterprogramming to be a success. (Okay, I could lose Medium from the schedule, but I honestly would rather see all of them succeed, which is certainly a tall order.)

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The Husband:

So right now, ABC’s Ugly Betty is on a mini-hiatus in order to allow Samantha Who? to finish its second season, as well as let In The Motherhood go through its entire six-episode first season. (Taking the FOX model of trying out six eps of a sitcom is actually pretty smart business, even if it is for a show that I keep accidentally calling Notes from the Underbelly, which is probably not a good sign.) This allowed me to catch up on the four backlogged Betty episodes that were sitting on my DVR, a pretty simple task considering how easy the show it to watch. But what’s been keeping me invested in this show, and, likewise, what issues do I have with the mini-run?

Matt

I love Matt. I think he’s a great foil for Betty, his relation to her industry allows for a type of romantic interaction missing from her Henry/Gio triangle (Henry worked at Meade, yes, but he was an accountant, so that doesn’t really count.) I think he’s a sweetheart, I think his bits of inner turmoil are entirely founded, and I like the way he is treated like an actual human being and not just a character cipher. When we last checked in on this blog, all we knew was that Matt was a sports journalist and cared very little about fashion. Now, we know he’s actually not only the heir to a disgustingly huge fortune, but he has so many notches on his bedpost that…some clever analogy. (Shut up! This is Ugly Betty.) And now, I think that he’s the best beau ever for Betty. Sorry, Gio fans, but I’m really pulling for Matt to become a major regular. Agree or disagree?

I think we need to talk about this obsession everyone has with this Gio person.

I think we need to talk about this obsession everyone has with this Gio person.

Christine Baranski

As Matt’s overbearing, snobbish and protective mother, Ms. Baranski fell right back into her glorious comfort zone after that appearance on The Big Bang Theory, which still annoys me to no end. She was completely miscast there. Here, she may be typecast, but it’s that wonderful kind of typecasting where it works perfectly. I desire more of her.

Ralph Macchio

He returned in a big way, finally bedding Hilda when she realizes that his clean-cut city councilman image may just be a cover for a badder boy underneath. Between this and Beer League and My Cousin Vinny, as well as his appearance on Broadway as J. Pierrepont Finch in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (taking over for Matthew Broderick when he left the cast in the mid-90s), I don’t know why he doesn’t get more active work, or why he’s barely in films anymore. He still looks effortlessly young, still has the comic timing learned from Mr. Miyagi, and yet still looks like he came from the downtrodden wrong side of the tracks. It’s a good combo. Why can’t he be the “best friend” in an Ed Burns movie?

Bernadette Peters

She was used for about 45 seconds in one episode of the four. This is not proper usage of The Bern. Ultimate fail, UB.

Connor & Molly

So after all that love square madness between Connor, Molly, Daniel and Wilhelmina, Connor just suddenly decides to just up and leave in one episode, suddenly desiring to embezzle money from Meade Publications as well as try to steal Willy’s baby and leave the country. This twist came out of nowhere, was not in tune with the rest of his character, and made little to no sense. All it did was save the money it would take to pay the actor to show up to work. That’s the only thing I can figure out. It’s a shame that UB is having trouble keeping story arcs going this season, because the fact that they get completely abandoned every four episodes or so makes me not want to invest as much energy in this series as I assume they’d like. And giving Molly borderline inoperable cancer has, so far, been completely pointless as well. But at least she only disappeared for one episode and came back. The same can’t be said for Connor, despite showing up for a few seconds in a dream sequence.

Steven R. Schirripa

Eh, get a load of this guy here, eh?

Eh, get a load of this guy here, eh?

Between his appearance here as a competitive TV chef, SLOTAT‘s Sausage King and his TV food show that I’ve never heard of (thanks Wikipedia!), Steven R. Schirripa has effectively changed his typecast from mob family comic relief (Casino and The Sopranos) into being the go-to guy for any role revolving around food. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a shift like this, so it’s good that he’s a very amicable actor, both onscreen and on talk shows. It’s tough to not love that face.

Christina

I know that actress Ashley Jensen is on her way out at the end of the season and they have something big planned for her character, but that doesn’t mean that giving her about five lines over four episodes is allowable. She’s definitely in the top three best characters of the show, but you wouldn’t know it from the scripts. Fail.

The Husband:

So what’s been going on the last couple weeks at Mode Magazine? Well, if the first episode in this discussion was any indication, absolutely nothing at all. Taking the rare 100%-personal-story route, UB throws a lot of mush at us with very little to really chew on.

Some of the not-so-great stories:

  • Claire Meade is approaching 60, so she acts out by shoplifting from high-class boutique stores. When Betty tries to stop her, she gets pulled aside by store security and is about to be in big trouble until Claire comes back and fesses up.
  • Betty, in preparation for Claire’s birthday, goes around with a video camera to interview all of Claire’s friends, only to find that she has no true ones.
  • Daniel tries to make Molly forget about her ex-fiancee Connor, but that’s hard when he goes out of his way to find a sweet Tibetan restaurant, only to find out that Molly has been there dozens of times, and the wait staff doesn’t like anybody dating her but Connor. Hilarity. (Not.)
  • Wilhelmina has to look after Connor’s parrot while he is out of town, but the parrot picks up on her speech and begins repeating “I love Connor,” something the emotionally stunted Wilhelmina only mentioned in passing. She doesn’t want to be the first one to say “I love you,” so she momentarily suggests that she kill the bird. This brings us to the only great line of the night:

“But that…birder!” — Marc

And in the only somewhat good story, Betty, with video camera, accidentally leaves the camera on in her house while away and videotapes her father squeezing the asscheeks of his assigned personal nurse, Elena. (I’ll always know Lauren Velez, the actress, as Dr. Gloria, the prison doctor on Oz who Dean Winter was always lusting after, so this storyline has its major awkwardness for me no matter how it goes. If you want to see Velez in a great film, though, I suggest you pick up I Like It Like That immediately.) Upon further investigation, Betty realizes that her father isn’t actually a sexually harassing dog — he and Elena are actually in love. Betty and Hilda won’t have this relationship, not accepting of their father dating anybody, let alone somebody so much younger than him, but when they find that Elena’s intentions are nothing but good, and that Papi has been lonely for years, they finally accept the couple as they are.

The following episode, “There’s No Place Like Mode,” brings the show back into absurd amounts of awesome with a huge bang in a mega-episode of lunacy and heart.

While Daniel insults Molly by trying to give her a high-fashion makeover, and Wilhelmina feels that her personal life with Connor is beginning to affect her professional standing in her industry, Betty gets the best story of the night — as an exercise at YETI, Betty is forced to pair up with a sports writer, and they are to learn about each other’s magazines through and through. This young man, Matt, seems like a perfect fit for Betty, and also a perfect fit for Ugly Betty. He’s not classically handsome, but he’s witty and looks like Josh Groban, and is a great romantic interest for the show. Betty isn’t interested in sports, but when Matt bitches her out for not taking an interest in his work and was pre-judging his industry, she gives in and learns that, just like in her industry, the best stories are the ones about the people within the industry. I’d love to continue seeing Betty’s foray into the sports world and its similarities and differences with fashion, and Matt is a much better dating choice for Betty than perhaps even Henry, who was a little too clingy even when he knew that he was going to have a baby with somebody else.

But what mission does Betty take Matt on during the episode? It’s to get the line of clothes for Fashion Week from the enigmatic German designer Heinrich, whose clothes are made of metal. Confused, Betty and Cristina write a fake press release just to goof around, but when Suzuki St. Pierre accidentally gets a hold of the bizarre parody piece, Heinrich is so amused that he asks Betty to produce his Fashion Week show.

I would love to be at this show, provided nothing cuts my face.

I would love to be at this show, provided nothing cuts my face.

But who gets to go, and who gets Betty’s two extra tickets? At the Suarez house, Hilda is getting a little weirded out by all of the smooching going on between Elena and Papi, especially now that he’s at perfect health for his age and technically doesn’t need a nurse anymore. And Justin doesn’t like them interrupting their movie-watching time.

Justin: I can’t hear what they’re saying.

Papi: Well, it’s either about steppin’ up, or the streets.


Justin, who was to go to Betty’s show with Hilda, decides to give his ticket to Elena instead so she and Hilda can talk, and while they have differences, they bond over their horrible fashion choices from the 80s and 90s and decide that they could be friends after all.

Ahh…but how does Betty’s big show go? Well, one of the metal dresses almost cuts Isaac Mizrahi’s face (Target spokesperson OH NOES!), but otherwise it seems to be going pretty well…until a very pregnant Cristina, who has been helping out backstage, reveals to Betty that she has been in labor all day but didn’t want to say anything, and now there’s not enough time to get to the hospital. Cristina collapses on the runway, and Wilhelmina gets all the metal-adorned models to make a circle around Cristina to give her privacy. Luckily, Elena is capable of delivering the baby and goes to the private circle, and moments later Willy rises up, baby in hand, in a tableau that looks to be a mixture of Brazil, Moulin Rouge! and The Lion King.

So yes, it was all kinds of wacky and messy, but I got a whole lot of Mode shenanigans out of it. Willy has her new heir by a dead man’s seed, Ashley Jensen can settle her story and leave the show as reported, and Betty has a new boy story. The mixture of heartfelt stories and absurd drama rises again, and that’s when UB is at its best.

We’ve got seven episodes left this season. Let’s hope it keeps us fully interested.

PBBTTTHHHHHH!

You hear that? That’s the sound of my brain flushing out all the recent episodes of television I had yet to write up. My daytime job’s responsibilities have increased tenfold, and I find myself with just that much less time a day to do the thing that I actually want to do – write about television. I can’t just not write about these shows and leave you all hanging, though, so here’s me dumping out all over the place.

PBBTTTHHHHHH!

These first few have some of the notes I wrote down to coincide with the show, and for some reason or another – oh wait, I know the reason, it’s because I just haven’t been able to find the time – I just couldn’t get them together to form an actual post.

And to make things easy, as each show’s write-up will be very small, I have broken my rule to give them letter grades. However, I will try not to use them in the future.

Scrubs 8.7 “My New Role”

Grade: B+

Dr. Cox has major issues balancing his time as the new Chief of Medicine, so he and Kelso finally repair their relationship that has been seemingly broken for decades. J.D. realizes that he must take the place of Dr. Cox to be a responsible, trustworthy doctor.

Some jotted quotes and other miscellaneous funny things:

  • “It is inappropriate to interrupt an attending when he’s hittin’ it.” – J.D.
  • “Since we’re friends now, I can show you my butt.” – Kelso
  • “Look at me! I can’t touch anything I love without hurting it!” – J.D. with cactus hands
  • “It’s Monday. Monday is bongo day.” – Janitor
  • Apparently, Ted’s never been hugged
  • Disrespecting Nurses Five!
  • On Cox’s Never Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever List: J.D., Hooch, Jordan

Scrubs 8.8 “My Lawyer’s In Love”

Grade: A-

While Cox learns to balance his time better between his work and his growing family, Ted finds love in a sweet and cute ukulele player who constantly visits pediatrics. Aziz Ansari gets fired for laziness. Special shout-out to actress Kate Micucci, who played Ukulele Girl a.k.a. Stephanie Gooch, who matriculated at the same university as yours truly. She was a grad student during my undergrad years, but I still noticed her around campus and was lucky enough to catch some of her stand-up comedy/performance pieces at our campus open mic room. My favorite was a bizarre puppet show about the meaning of Christmas.

Some quotes and other such things:

  • The Peons (Ted’s a capella group) are now singing 70s standards like Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear The Reaper”
  • “A capella music is – how to put this delicately – ear rape.” – Cox
  • “Ted, we saw you in the park throwing rocks at old couples.” – J.D.


My Name Is Earl 4.16 “Randy’s List Item”

Grade: B-

After the great two-parter that dealt with Darnell’s ousting from Camden due to the Witness Protection Program and his wife’s appearance on the glorious reality TV show Estrada Or Nada, we’re back to the same-ol’-same-ol’ My Name Is Earl, one with very little forward momentum. At least this week, it’s Randy’s turn as he wins $250 in a lotto scratcher, but is then hit by a bicycle and realizes that, just like his brother, he must pay tribute to karma. This time? He must reunite Earl with two of their old trailer park buddies who became estranged when Randy framed Zeke and Arlo, but as usual things don’t always go as planned, and Randy finds out that his true task is to bring Zeke and Arlo closer together as brothers.

Joy, meanwhile, is constantly and intentionally blowing her family’s witness protection cover because she is not happy with each new location, including being the Gruddlebutts of NYC in a noisy apartment, working at a lumberjack camp (complete with Darnell sporting a sweet beard) and finally living in an igloo amongst the caribou. Joy discovers that the two Witness Protection agents are having an affair, so she blackmails them into relocating them to a great big house in a sunny, palm tree-lined area (where she can presumably take the name Goldilocks “Goldie” Cristal.)

The one great quote from the episode:

“Wanna see my scabs that look like people?” – Arlo

The Office 5.13 “Lecture Circuit Part 1”

Grade: B+

As a result of good sales, Michael is now doing the lecture circuit at other branches of Dunder Mifflin, and Pam acts as his driver/assistant. As usual, his speeches don’t really add up to anything, but Pam makes the trip better when she suggests that they blow off one of the locations and head to Nashua, New Hampshire, to see Michael’s one true love Holly. To be continued, where it will continue to rock my face.

Oh…and who do they see along the way? Karen (Rashida Jones), Jim’s ex-girlfriend and ex-coworker who is now married to a dermatologist…and pregnant. (Preggers OH NOES!)

Back at Scranton, Jim and Dwight, as the new heads of party planning, have forgotten Kelly’s birthday (finally some Kelly screentime, thanks to actress Mindy Kaling writing the episode), but then clash on how to make it up to her. (Dwight’s suggestion? A banner that reads “It is your birthday,” and black and brown balloons.)

Andy, meanwhile, has his eyes on a beautiful African-American client, but he blows what could have become something more when he goes in for a kiss way too soon.

Quotes and other funny stuff:


“Andy: For your information, I’ve been with beautiful women.

Phyllis: Sexually?

Andy: This conversation is over.”

  • The fact that Creed has dated Squeaky Fromme.
  • Michael: “Would a liar bring mini Mounds bars?”
    [Pam joylessly tosses candy at the employees]

AND NOW, SHOWS ON WHICH I WROTE NO NOTES! HAVE FUN WITH THIS TV MEMORY DUMP!

Ugly Betty 3.12 “Sisters On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown”

Grade: B-

As Papi recovers from his heart attack, Hilda guilts Betty into realizing that she has been putting her career before her family. This becomes worse when she is forced to leave her father at the hospital so she can intercept a set of photos that would expose Daniel and Molly’s Caribbean love vacation to her unknowing ex-fiancé (and Daniel’s CFO), who himself is having a secret affair with Wilhelmina. Betty wins in the end, blackmailing fashion TV host Suzuki St. Pierre with her knowledge of his secret – he’s actually a butch heterosexual man with a family and a house in New Jersey – only to be foiled by a gossip rag cover that shows Molly with some faceless hunk standing behind Heidi and Spencer on a St. Barth’s Beach.

I liked Betty’s stuff, and I’m happy she’s moving out of her Manhattan apartment temporarily to be closer to her family, but I’m not sure if I give two shits about the Daniel-Molly-Connor-Wilhemina love square. There’s just very little chemistry.

Ugly Betty 3.13 “Kissed Off”

Grade: C+

Betty has nothing to do this season regarding her love life, and this continues as sexy musician neighbor Jesse moves his way back into Betty’s life, only this time she realizes that he has no concern for or interest in anybody other than himself. Amanda, meanwhile, must find a roommate to sublet Betty’s half of the apartment, and in the end she makes the wise choice and chooses Mark. Now that’s a sitcom set-up if e’er I’ve seen one.

Frankly, were hoping for our own spin-off.

Frankly, we're hoping for our own spin-off.

In the Meade Empire love square, Connor finally – after stalking her for a bit – finds out who Molly’s new beau is, and while some punches are thrown and big issues are discussed, Daniel and Connor learn that they can still work with each other, even if Connor’s ex-fiancée is now banging the boss.

The one quote I wrote down:

“Is it possible that he was just licking guacamole off your chin?” – Amanda to Betty

Private Practice 2.14 “Second Chances”

Grade: C

I remember virtually nothing about this episode, other than that Violet still doesn’t tell Pete and Sheldon that she’s pregnant and is still unsure of who the father is, and that she moves in with Cooper. As far as medical cases go, a woman gives birth while having a stroke, I laughed, and then I felt bad about laughing at a woman having a stroke. And then I felt shame. Then I fell asleep.

You got bored because this isnt Swingtown.

You got bored because this isn't Swingtown.

Grey’s Anatomy 5.14 “Beat Your Heart Out”

Grade: B

An episode with a lot going on but perhaps a little too much.

Now that Denny the Ghost/Grim Reaper is no longer following Izzie around, she can now abuse the interns into giving her medical tests to find out what the hell is wrong with her, but all they find is that she’s anemic. Dr. Bailey, meanwhile, really does not want to work in pediatrics anymore after the emotion-sucking experience of that sick kid with the bowel problems and his near-death, as well as her own son’s medical issues, but is then convinced by none other than Dr. “Apsergers” Dixon that she perfect for the job because of her intense emotional involvement and willingness to break the rules.

Dr. Arizona Robbins kisses Callie. It’s like she’s a lesbian magnet.

Where is the gator with gaydar when you need him?

Where is the gator with gaydar when you need him?

Meredith gets Cristina to read more of Mer’s death mother’s journals, and finds out that when Mother Grey and the Chief were having an affair, he was going to propose to her.

Speaking of proposals, Derek is finally going to pop the question (with additional goading from a pregnant Jennifer Westfeldt) to Meredith, but then receives a call from Addison down in Los Angeles, and something is terribly wrong. What is it? Follow me over to the next entry!

Private Practice 2.15 “Acceptance”

Grade: C+

This is why Addison was calling Derek. Her neurologist brother, Archer, is having some major seizures, and while he’s all sure that it’s an inoperable brain tumor, it takes the other doctors of Oceanside Wellness – who are not neurologists, mind you – to discover that it’s actually brain-eating parasites he caught while on his book tour.

As usual, Cooper gets the best story. This time, a seven-year-old girl who has had many operations (and more to come) as a result of a horrible car accident is abandoned at Oceanside by her parents, who can no longer afford to keep her and care for her. Cooper tracks the parents down at a relative’s house, but instead of guilting them into taking the child back, he realizes that they don’t deserve her. The girl is taken by child services (sad face), but maybe, just maybe, they might be better able to take care of her. Healthcare is a big deal, people, and the sooner you realize that we as a country should be willing to pay more for it via taxes the better of we’ll be. (There’s my sporadic political activism at work, which I will now turn off.)

Violet finally tells Pete and Sheldon about her pregnancy and that she will be keeping the child. I don’t remember what they said in response, but I know that neither of them particularly wants children.

And hey, this was advertised as a crossover episode along with Grey’s, and yet only the final minutes of each had anything to do with each other. Next week is the major crossover, and I wish ABC was more honest about this. Damn grubby ratings-grabbers.

We will have more TV Memory Dump tomorrow! And then perhaps we can return to our regularly scheduled write-ups from moi, the Husband.

The Husband:

Sorry about the delay on my Ugly Betty posts, but episodes 9 and 10 of this season were pre-empted here on the West coast despite airing in the rest of the country, and I simply just didn’t get around to downloading and watching them until yesterday, leading to watching episode 11 last night four days after its original air date. And since Thursday, now that Bones is joining the Fox line-up that night and Private Practice was moved to its post-Grey’s spot, Ugly Betty will not be my first viewing priority of the night. (Don’t forget about all of NBC’s comedies, Survivor and Smallville, also on that night. Thank god I don’t watch CSI or Supernatural or ER, or I’d lose my damn mind on Thursday nights. What? America’s Best Dance Crew and Celebrity Rehab Sober House are also starting this Thursday at 10? Dammit!) But with that out of the way, let’s jump right into the world of Betty Suarez.

I haven’t really checked out the “popular opinion” of regular UB viewers, but I have been very satisfied with the last few episodes. Why? Because I like the show best when it’s about the publishing industry and where Betty fits in, or if she even does at all. While I also tend to love the episodes focusing on Betty’s romantic forays – as well as Hilda’s, oddly enough – it seems that no viewers will be happy until Betty ends up back with Gio, which is entirely understandable. Sometimes some of the other guys in her life just feel like placeholders, and I get why that would rub a lot of people the wrong way.

Its like Stylista, only not horrible.

YETI: It's like Stylista, only not horrible.

But the world of publishing! Whee! Three episodes ago, Betty learns of the illustrious YETI  program (Young Editors Training Initiative) and has only 48 hours to put together an entire magazine proposal as well as a letter of recommendation, and after failing to produce a worthy fashion mag in that given time, she takes her family’s advice and makes a magazine called B, which is designed for women who may not have all the money and glamour of what something like Mode advertises but do lead healthy and social lives. (Or, at least, that’s what I think it was. I’m still kind of unclear.) Worried that she will lose to Marc – who is also in the running, has an entourage and designed an entire magazine (complete with a special piece by David Sedaris, who I can assure you would never contribute to such a prospective magazine or to Marc St. James) – she is surprised to be the one person chosen from Mode to participate in the program. She then learns, sadly, that she was pretty much accepted merely to fill a minority quota, so she refuses the position to let Marc be accepted. Daniel, who has been too busy lusting after Connor’s fiancée Molly to care much about Betty and YETI, finally comes through and tells YETI that Betty also worked for Player Magazine, and thus she and Marc can both be in the program.

In the next episode, Betty begins to balance YETI with her regular work, and now that she and Amanda, despite their differences, live together and have to be close, they are paired together for a special magazine feature where they do what Amanda always does – rely on others for everything in her life, and show how somebody can do things around town that would ordinarily rack up thousands of dollars but somehow they come out paying for absolutely nothing. Including getting clothing samples and free meals as well as buying items that they know they will return within 30 days, the girls seem to be finally hitting it off, but when a pair of two con artist men dine-and-dash, and thus sticking Betty and Amanda with a very expensive restaurant bill, they have to think fast and finally drop the name Mode and lie about doing a feature on the restaurant in order to get out unscathed. A success there, Amanda soon learns that the men also robbed her purse, which included every last bit of Betty’s money in order to pay for the apartment. Luckily, Daniel loves the article, gives them an advance and decides to make the column a recurring feature. And feeling guilty, Amanda gets a humiliating job, and thus she continues being my favorite character on the show, what with her psycho character mood swings that only make sense within the crazy colorful world of UB.

Stick with me, kid, and Ill show you how to freeload like a pro.

Stick with me, kid, and I'll show you how to freeload like a pro.

In last week’s episode, Betty encounters a new teacher at YETI played by none other than Bernadette Peters (a.k.a. the Bern) and is put off by her tough teaching style, wherein all of the YETI editors have until the next class to attain 40 new contacts via networking. Betty’s not the most social person, so Marc and Amanda bring her to a bar and give her advice on how to network properly. (My favorite bit of this advice? Break the ice with the other person by offering up juicy but ultimately meaningless gossip.) Having a tough time reaching 40, Betty finally meets with Teri (Nikki Blonsky alert!), her equal at competing fashion mag Elle, and they hit it off, until the next day when Betty realizes that Teri, while Betty was in the bathroom cleaning up a mess she left on herself, peeked at Betty’s BlackBerry and intercepted a very important vintage dress that was to be on the cover of Mode. In order to not get crazy fired, Betty gets clever and uses one of her earlier new contacts, a dude at a catering service who just happens to be catering that night’s Elle party, and she and Marc steal the dress back. While I’m sure this was a one-time thing, I loved Blonsky in the episode and I like the idea of Betty having a true equal as a villain at a competing fashion rag, one who dresses as poorly as she does, and would provide some really great publishing world drama. Alas, the show has bigger fish to fry.

The Bern will totally school yo ass.

The Bern will totally school yo' ass.

As for the Daniel-Molly-Connor-Wilhelmina love square, Willie (sort of) blackmails Daniel into pursuing Molly further when she catches he and Molly on security camera having a non-physical but intimate moment in the fashion closet at Mode in order for Willie to have Connor all to herself. Daniel finally gets Molly alone at Wilhelmina’s cocktail party and gives her an ultimatum – admit that you have feelings for me, but if you don’t we’ll never talk again – that she rejects. That night, however, a depressed Daniel finds Molly on his stoop, declaring she finally broke up with Connor after a four-year relationship, so he and Molly make out when Connor and Wilhelmina have their own makeout session at her place.

As for the Suarezes, Ignacio is worried that Betty, taking advice from the Bern, is putting too much of her career before her family, and scolds her when she has to leave Hilda’s party intended to christen her now-legal hair salon business. When Betty finally returns hours later after dealing with the stolen vintage dress and ignoring several calls from Hilda, she finds that nobody is home. Finally calling Hilda back, she is crushed to learn that her father is in the hospital, having had a heart attack. To be continued…

Where is the show going? Not really sure, as I don’t really consider any of the love square to be of much interest, and now that I hear Ashley Jensen is opting out of returning to the show next year, her drama involving being Willie’s surrogate mother isn’t going to last much longer, but right now I’m very interested in UB as long as it can keep up some of the professional intrigue that…intrigues me so much right now. Without that element, I think the show loses a great deal of its energy, and that’s a complete shame.

And I don’t usually notice these things, but is Betty now satisfactorily more of a fashion disaster than she was during the first few bits of this season when people were worried that she was dressing too well? It seems that way to me, but I really don’t know much about that kind of thing, and as my wife does not watch this show, I can’t exactly ask her, now can I?

As should be obvious with this entry, I finally finished watching every single James Bond movie just before Quantum of Solace came out and finally found the time to catch up on some of my favorite shows. Here, it’s catch-up time in the world of Betty Suarez.

“Crush’d”

It’s been strange, watching you two commenters declare your love for Gio. Not that I don’t love him. I truly do. But I’m also very curious about why you think Betty actually deserves “some punishment” for dumping Gio (even though I don’t think she technically “dumped him,” since they were never officially dating in the first place). At the end of s2, I think her final decision, to choose neither Henry nor Gio, was absolutely the right thing to do for Betty Suarez, an unselfish girl who doesn’t want to hurt anybody even if it’s in her better interest. While it would definitely be great to see her with Gio, I’m left wondering where the story would go from there. Shows, especially one with its reality as heightened by this one, need conflict, so I’m very curious as to where you think a Betty-dates-Gio arc would go and still be able to have us care. For instance, I’m amazed that Scrubs has made us care about Turk and Carla for going on eight seasons now, and that show is definitely the exception to the rule of interesting long-term couples.

Believe me, I am in no way trying to start shit. Especially not with UB’s two readers. I am honestly curious.

Hi, Roomie!

Hi, Roomie!

Never mind, because Betty gets punished hard in this episode by her rising star of a rock ‘n roll neighbor, Jesse. Unable to get him and his band in at a Mode-sponsored party, Betty decides to take Amanda advice and throw a super-hip roof party at their apartment building. (Amanda, having lost her apartment, is temporarily rooming with Betty, with both positive and negative results.) The party goes off without a hitch – never mind all the drama between Daniel, Wilhelmina and the new CFO – but when Betty goes to find Jesse, she walks in on him making out with Amanda (who knew Betty had a crush on somebody, but was too self-involved to realize that Betty was talking about Jesse). Crushed, she kicks Amanda out, but upon settling her feelings, decides to have her stick around, since Amanda didn’t technically know, and besides, Betty’s love for Jesse was clearly unrequited.

“Tornado Girl”

This week posed a very interesting dilemma for Betty Suarez, something I was planning on asking my wife her opinion on over the weekend, but I just never got around to it. My wife and I have both worked in journalism and publishing in different degrees, so I thought she might have been interested in weighing in on Mode’s most recent debacle.

While Daniel and all of the Meade enterprise’s publishers are out on a retreat, Daniel leaves Betty in charge of finalizing the printing for Mode’s latest issue, and everything seems to go swimmingly. Unfortunately, the American Midwest is suddenly hit with vicious tornados and storms, which leads Betty to return to the printing factory and demand that they reprint the entire magazine with a new cover. Why? Because the main story is Mode’s “Fashion Storm,” complete with a cover picture of a model morphed into a tornado. In order to reprint the entire set of issues, it would cost Meade Publishing a couple hundred thousand dollars (this, in a time where the editor’s retreat was intended for the CFO to assess which magazines should be shut down to save the company money), but it would also presumably save Mode from a publicity nightmare. She can only get permission from Daniel, though, so Betty hires a skywriter to get him to call her (all the editors had to give up their cell phones and PDAs). Daniel, secretly, allows the issue to go through and gets it to be Mode’s highest-selling issue, unintentionally getting Betty get all the blame from the news media (including Suzuki St. Pierre) and nasty calls from offended Midwesterners. In the end, Daniel decides to reveal that he was the one who released the offensive issue and declared that all proceeds would go to benefiting the tornado victims.

Now, this is just me talking, but I would have absolutely allowed the issue to go through. The majority of Americans are smart enough to know that if a monthly publication releases an unintentionally controversial issue only the day after a natural disaster, the decision was not made to be tasteless but simply that the magazine would be unable to shift gears so closely to the end. The media blitz would not have been nearly as bad, and the total production cost would have been too great to outweigh whatever would have happened. I appreciate Daniel’s final decision and would have recommended that to a point (the donation angle, that is), but I simply couldn’t get behind the moral implications of the storyline. Publishing is a tough business with tough decisions, but I just don’t think that Mode would have been boycotted by anybody, and whatever controversy would have simply blown over by the next issue.

Then again, I’m just a west coast guy. What do I know about how people react to tornados? We just get big honking earthquakes.

Still, it was a very good episode, especially with the Marc/Cliff saga of Cliff asking Marc to move in with him, Marc freaking out and cheating on him, guilt-ridden Marc proposing to Cliff, Marc revealing his infidelity, and Cliff ending their relation perhaps forever. Now that’s a story I can get behind.

The Wife:
Just reading this now, I’d like to respond to my husband’s inquiry about my thoughts on the Mode Tornado scandal. I actually had to deal with a similar situation back when I was editing the literary magazine at my high school. (I know, my career in publishing has been long and highly lauded.) We were going into hell week for the winter issue of the magazine and all of the editors were turning in their pages to the Chief so that our moderator could take them to the publisher that night. That day, we heard that a student at our school had committed suicide. His name was K.C. As I was proofing the pages for my section that afternoon, I noticed that we were about to print a story about teen suicide featuring a female character named Casey. The issue would “hit stands” on Friday, only two days after our classmate’s death. Fearing the issue was too sensitive at the time, I pulled the story and did the best I could to assemble a new page out of the slush pile. I wouldn’t say that I was happy with the layout I provided for that section in the end, but I do still feel I made the right decision to pull the suicide story.
The issue got a little more complicated, however, when the author of one of the stories I had decided to run instead was upset with an edit I made to her piece, which just happened to be about lesbianism. (Note to all girls who submit stories about lesbianism to high school literary magazines: if you’re willing to submit that, you better be willing to accept the ramifications of publishing it.) I felt the piece ended without real resolution, which is why I hadn’t considered publishing it without the author making changes. But I was in a bind, and her work had potential with a change in the final line, that made the whole thing just a touch more gay.
In any case, I explained the suicide story situation to both the author and our moderators, who supported my decision to pull said story in light of K.C.’s death. They were even okay with the super-gay replacement story, in the end.
Now, if Daniel Meade were in my situation, writing for a small magazine with local or regional distribution, I would argue that he absolutely should have pulled the tornado cover, if not the whole fashion spread. In regional journalism, the affect your work has on its readers really matters. The potential loss of your entire readership base would be far greater than the financial hit you’d take reprinting a couple thousand copies. However, for a magazine with national distribution, I agree with Daniel’s decision to run the story as is. My husband is right; it would simply cost too much money to reprint the entire run of a magazine from cover to cover. (Furthermore, Betty, you can’t make that demand of a printer unless you’ve brought the replacement cover in a PDF along with a replacement fashion spread so that he can fashion a new plate. It’s a lot more people who have to work overtime to fix that issue than just the printer.) People may be upset, certainly, but there are two ways to diffuse that: a.) immediately issue a press release explaining that the issue had already gone to print when the tornado struck and that there was nothing to be done and b.) donate a portion of the proceeds from sale of the issue to the affected families.
The Husband:

Generally being an optimist — why else would I continue to watch ‘Til Death now that my favorite element of the show, the young neighbors, are no longer in the new episodes — I’m of a firm belief that if something truly awful is happening on television, it’s best to mention it as little as possible so as not to attract too much attention to the easily fixable problem in the first place. This is why I don’t publicly discuss the works of Anne Coulter — books I have read out of sheer morbid curiosity despite my political leanings — because as many copies as she sells (I get them from the library so as not to support her too much), she is remarkably uninfluential in the scheme of things. Basically, to bitch and moan about her in the ways I truly want to would only give her more undeserved focus, and if you just want somebody or something to go away, it’s better to outright ignore them.

Am I wrong here, or is this blue dress actually cute?

Am I wrong here, or is this blue dress actually cute?

That’s why I will not be discussing Lindsay Lohan on Thursday’s Ugly Betty. It wasn’t working for the show, I haven’t liked anything that has happened surrounding her character of Kimmie on any of her episodes, but now she’s gone and will not be returning, so there you go. It’s over.

Fine. You want to at least know what happened to Kimmie, dontcha? Sheesh…okay. Kimmie, promoted to an associate editor at the end of the last episode, begins burning all of her Mode bridges immediately, having shunned her short-lasting friendship with Marc and Amanda. Jealous that Kimmie gets to contribute to the magazine’s special “hot edition” with a piece called “Sizzling Hot Club,” Betty gets on Daniel’s case and is finally allowed to contribute as well. Her desperate idea? “Sizzling Hot Fruit.” At home, she struggles to find a fruit that’s not so overdone or “so last year,” and her father recommends she write about the tico berry, a rare fruit from Brazil. Doing some research, Betty stumbles upon a great story — it appears that hot Brazilian supermodel Adriana Lima loves the rare fruit, as her grandfather harvested them during her childhood, and she credits them with providing her with her great beauty and intelligence. Betty tells Mode about this, and suddenly the tico berry piece turns into the cover story (and the first time Mode has ever had Adriana on their cover).

(Quick bit of research brought this to my attention: as I assumed, the tico berry is completely fictional, and the berries they use in the episode are actually rambutan berries.)

Kimmie does not like her high school rival getting all the attention, so she sabotages Betty’s interview with TV fashion show host Suzuki St. Pierre (still my favorite character name on the show) by giving her un-adhered fake eyelashes and convincing the show’s gaffers to overlight her in order to make her sweat. (The Ugly Betty writers, proving they know nothing about the production side of movies and TV and have probably never lifted a Fresnel in their lives, ignore the fact that Suzuki would overheat long before Betty as he is closer to the heat source.) Kimmie then gets to Adriana before Betty can and finds a way to take over as the story’s production leader, usurping Betty from her rightful position.

First, well put Kimmie in a magicians assistant outfit and then actually cut her in half. It will be so tragic.

First, we'll put Kimmie in a magician's assistant outfit and then actually cut her in half. It will be so tragic.

Betty at first struggles with helping Marc and Amanda destroy Kimmie, but when push comes to shove, she realizes she has no other choice. Kimmie is perfectly able to destroy herself with her utter ignorance of Betty’s photo shoot setup at Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain…

“It’s Suri-realism. It’s something Tom Cruise’s daughter came up with.”

…but with a little nudge, she is convinced to stand up to co-editor-in-chief Wilhelmina over the use of an about-to-be-auctioned Marie Antoinette diamond necklace and is ultimately fired.

Okay, now I don’t have to talk about Kimmie anymore. Back to better Mode stories, UB writers, and don’t make me feel shame for you any longer.

In the world of Hilda, now that she has broken up with Eddie Cibrian, it’s time for another nice romance, so in comes the awesome Ralph Maccio (a.k.a. the MFing Karate Kid), a local councilman who wanders into Hilda’s home-based salon and lets her know that, though he is not there to bust her, she needs to have a license in order to continue her business. She becomes overly defensive at his suggestion (cutting hair is pretty much all she knows), but Maccio begins what I assume (and hope) will be a multi-episode arc back-and-forth between the two of them. I’ve always liked Hilda’s stories, and throwing the Karate Kid into the mix will only improve things in my eyes.

Come on, Hildy, you know you want him. Why? Because he’s the best around, nothing’s gonna ever keep him down. In addition, he is the man who will fight for your honor, and he’ll be the hero you’re dreaming of.

(80s movie dance breakdown!)

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