Review: Ugly Betty

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[DVD Review]

Overachiever Betty Suarez (America Ferrara) is a smart go-getter employed
as an assistant to Daniel Meade (Eric Mabius), editor-in-chief of Mode

Trouble is, she’s also overweight, has braces on her teeth, wears unflattering eyeglasses and is working in the superficial New York fashion world where looks are much more appreciated than brains.

Betty’s sweet personality is wasted on most of her colleagues, such as shrewish creative director, Wilhelmina Slater (Vanessa Williams), who’s upset about being passed over for a deserved promotion to the top job because of nepotism. Then there’s receptionist Amanda Tanen (Becki Newton), a witch willing to do Wilhelmina’s dirty work.

Yet, despite the venom unleashed in her direction, Betty somehow figures out a way to flourish in the shallow setting. After hours, Betty’s retreats to the modest Suarez abode in Queens, where she leads a less than glamorous life with her father (Tony Plana), big sister (Ana Ortiz) and nephew (Mark Indelicato).

The show is based on a Colombian TV sitcom called “I Am Betty, the Ugly One” brought to America by co-producers Salma Hayek and Ben Silverman. In the U.S., the series proved to be something of a surprise hit for ABC, taking the country by storm and landing a handful of Emmy nominations, most notably, Best Comedy Series, and Outstanding Lead (Ferrara) and Supporting Actress (Williams).

The program’s winning charm can be credited to the chemistry among the cast members and to the charm exhibited by its nerdy title character whether she’s negotiating her way around the publishing industry, by day, or juggling dating and the demands of her family in the evening. This six-disc DVD covers the entire first season, from such memorable episodes as “Lose the Boss,” “Queens for the Day,” “Sofia’s Choice,” and the finale, “East Side Story.”

There’s hope for humanity, after all, when recognizes inner beauty is a big hit.

Excellent (4 stars) Rating TV-14. Running time: 16 hours, 32 minutes. Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment


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