“Get Ready for Betty”
Ugly Betty enters its third season on a familiar trajectory. The first season being a breakout hit, the second kind of wobbling (partly because the writers hadn’t fully thought through the second season as they were too busy surviving the first; partly due to the writer’s strike), and the third season being a make or break kind of season as the show tries to re-coup some of its lost viewers. The fashion world backdrop of Ugly Betty continues with its fascination with physical beauty and style even as the eponymous lead character, Betty Suarez (America Ferrera), continues to evolve.
We still have some of the ridiculous office shenanigans as Wilhelmina Slater (Vanessa Williams) schemes for power and the Meades—mostly in the form of matriarch Claire Meade (Judith Light) and heir apparent Daniel Meade (Eric Mabius)—try to maintain the reins of control of Mode magazine. Daniel also attempts to balance his “just wanting to have fun” mentality with the realities of being a new father. Betty’s sister Hilda (Ana Ortiz) is still dating the married coach and after the grief of losing Santos. Throw in the comings and goings of the other superficial Mode employees and we have a cast of mostly twenty and thirty something teenagers, people who are emotionally in their teens but in big people’s bodies.
“I’ve created a plan for myself.” –Betty
Betty has returned from a trip around the country and has returned to New York, and Mode Magazine, rejuvenated and with an agenda. She wants to be about experiencing things: change, growing up, and discovering herself. Armed with her “empowerment animal” (a dove, symbol of her feminine energy), she braces herself for new challenges as she seeks her independence. She has even made a life checklist: 1) more responsibility at work, 2) get her own apartment in New York City, 3) no more romantic entanglements. Well, two out of three isn’t bad as Betty has to deal with her romantic entanglements with Henry Grubstick (Christopher Gorham), Giovanni ‘Gio’ Rossi (Freddy Rodríguez), Jesse (Val Emmich), and Matt (Daniel Eric Gold).
“I can fix this.” –Betty
It’s funny: we come into the world completely dependent on them (and our parents know EVERYTHING); we start to make noises of independence and doing things our way (and our parents know NOTHING); and then we start to brave the world by ourselves (and our parents know SOME things after all). But at some point we have to try to get our crap together. We can’t be afraid to change and grow and cutting the apron strings is a rite of passage as you carve out your own direction. It’s about growing up, dealing with the decisions you’ve made, and picking yourself up no matter how many bowls of ramen noodles you have to eat in the process.
“It gets better.” –Betty
Even our spiritual journeys hit bumps as we mature, with the journey inward being part of the progress. Some people compare this time to God actually “giving” you more responsibility by not guiding you by the hand any more. Allowing us room to go and explore where we need to go, but continuing to be present or being a guard rail. The signs of maturing include an increase in humility and teachability; the acknowledgment of the need for help.
Ugly Betty rights itself with season three, after the lamentable season two. There’s a less over-the-top quality to Season Three, as it has found its footing. Less ridiculous and more natural feeling storylines, less celebrity cameos, and a less one-note quality to many of the characters. Betty remains a fantastically lovable character, strong, capable, and independent; living in “BettySuarezland” which isn’t such a bad place to be.