Saturday, November 11, 2006

Does Ugly Betty Need Some Savage Love?

I don't watch much TV. I haven't had the time the past, oh, five years
or so, and once I got out of the habit, I developed TV ADD. I can sit
through a Premiership or World Cup soccer game, but that's still asking
a lot. (Mythbusters is the exception. I will sit down for a solid hour to watch something get blown up real good.)

So that I'm not entirely dysfunctional in this world, people supply me
with synopsis of popular shows. They sit through the hour, I get the
Hollywood style two-line pitch. That works for me. Lately, guys on one
of my forums have been chatting about Ugly Betty, and their comments
were good enough to arouse my curiosity. I've watched almost three
whole episodes now. That's almost commitment from me. While I sort of like it - the women are gorgeous (I'd like to see a LOT more of that female lawyer, and the sister is hOt), and I can't decide if I love or hate Marc, or (as a forum member said) hate myself for loving him, and the nephew makes my heart sting - several things about the show bug me.

The dialog is horrible. Horrible! No real human being talks like that, and I doubt people from Betty's neighborhood articulate their feelings with passages from therapy texts. Come on writers - it's possible to have a character get the meaning across like that without having them actually say those words. Let the character speak like the character, not like a writer
with an MFA and an unfinished masters thesis in psychology. M'kay?

The physical humor doesn't work. We GET it. Betty doesn't fit in at Mode.
She never will. She's not a sleek antelope bounding across the savanna.
Making her a klutz only makes us cringe. Better writers could make us
ache for her simply from her lack of sophistication. Mode is high
school all over again, and we all identify.

What are ya? A soap opera? I Love Lucy? A drama? A comedy? It sort of works, but mostly doesn't. Moving from slapstick to suspense is sort of like looking at the monkey-fish "mermaid" on display at Ripley's Believe It or Not. I choose not to believe in either half.

Parts of this show reek of the 1970's. The whole storyline with the son being an incurable ladies man with no clue about real women is dated. And the new editor touting women's empowerment? Uh - okay. Somehow the ability to eat spicy food, play pool well, and ride a motorcycle doesn't impress me. The whole era of women having to be more macho than men in order to succeed and to be sexy has thankfully passed - at least in the real world. It may take a while for this show to catch up.

Papi may be the font of all knowledge, but dredging up the life lessons he
taught is so heavy handed that it makes me flinch. It exposes the roots
of this show. And while it isn't bad, it needs a lighter touch. Much
lighter. Writers - listen up - SHOW, don't TELL. Show the respect the
girls have for their father. Don't make us listen to the "I respect
you,Papi" speech.

And the last thing that bugs me - Betty's boyfriend. He has got to go. Oh yeah, he's supposed to help keep her grounded when she's trying to be what she isn't. Except that he's a pathetic,whiny loser who can't take one for the team, or more accurately, one for his woman. If he was ever shown really supporting her when she was down, I'd be all for him. Instead, he uses emotional
blackmail to shame her attempts at success. Which is why I think Betty
needs to start reading Dan Savage's Savage Love
column. If she were to write Savage Love for advice about her boyfriend, I think he'd tell her to DTMF - dump the mother fucker. And by the way Betty - the forum agrees. The accountant you almost dated was a total hottie. Your boyfriend? Not so much.

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