Is there a better comedy on TV that suffers from such an undeserved absence of buzz than Ugly Betty? We think not. Sure, it’s a TV show that practically screams “uncool,” with its bumbling protagonist, exaggerated aesthetic, and cyclical family-values moralizing. It exists in that odd purgatory of hip, where it’s not wild enough to be popular ironically, or kitschy enough to be enjoyed by a marginal crowd of tastemakers. But while it may appear to belong in the cultural equivalent of limbo, that doesn’t mean it’s not a quality, spectacularly-written show. Cheesy, yes, but who doesn’t love at least a bit of cheesy, when it’s done right?
Plus, dare we say, it’s actually quite zeitgeist-y, and sometimes it’s really fun to watch a show try so hard to incorporate New York realities into a fantasy world.
After the jump, we break down what makes the show so good, still delivering on it’s third season.
Mark and Amanda. Mode’s entry-level duo is spectacular, with Michael Urie and Becky Newton going all-out to portray the bitchy and the gay who are simultaneously repulsive and endearing, and continue to have some of the best zingers on TV.
The economic crisis exists. The recession has been a major plot point recently, and it’s nice to just have someone acknowledge it. Bonus: Wilhemina trying to pay for the bus with a credit card.
Betty’s love interests. What girl doesn’t want to watch a girl with no fashion sense, who doesn’t brush her hair and still has braces, keep getting all these cute guys to fall in love with her? Honestly, she’s had four cute boyfriends for our every one semi-relationship. Her most recent one, played by relative newcomer Daniel Eric Gold, is making us want to e-mail casting directors to hire this dude asap. Plus, they actually included a line where he admitted his favorite movie was Wall-E. It’s like they know us.
It keeps multi-culturalism alive. How many other ensemble comedies have such a diverse cast? As far-fetched as every plot point is, there’s a deeply satisfying reality to the way it incorporates different races and sexual orientations without rubbing it in.
Betty is still “ugly.” Yeah, she’s been working at a fashion magazine for three years now, and still hasn’t figured out how to dress. And did we mention she still has braces? You can look at it as something that makes no sense–couldn’t she get a haircut? Or you could realize Betty probably doesn’t give a shit–and that that’s kind of an inspiration.