One of this year's few break-outs, Ugly Betty deserves its much-praised status, I reckon. It's actually one of the very few shows I've seen recently that I would describe as “charming”.
Betty Suarez's continuing exploits in the world of fashion magazines are like bedtime stories for kids made into glossy, primary coloured television. Little that transpires has much to do with reality, particularly the reality of magazine publishing, but it doesn't really matter in this fantasy world.
The show knows it is simplistic fare at heart and winks at the audience at opportune moments, but it avoids post-modern irony and simply embraces the good-natured Betty and her desire to get on in life through hard work and kind thoughts. Even the villains of the piece have their softer sides, with broken homes and broken hearts inspiring their random cruelty only until they become aware of what they're really doing.
It's soulful, fun and lovely basically. Avoid it if you're looking for something deep and meaningful that says something about the grittiness of existence. But it's an absolute must if you just want to watch something nice.
PS FYI, Ashley Jensen from Extras continues to amuse as Betty's only real work friend, while another Gervais-collaborator, Lucy Davies from The Office (she also appears in Studio 60), is equally amusing in guest appearances as a fashion TV news anchor.
- October 16, 2006: Ugly Betty, 'Til Death and Happy Hour are back for more
Ugly Betty has been commissioned for a full season.