Ugly Betty is an American dramedy television series developed by Silvio Horta, which premiered on ABC on September 28, 2006, and ended on April 14, 2010. The series revolves around the character Betty Suarez and is based on Fernando Gaitán's Colombian telenovela soap opera Yo soy Betty, la fea. The series was produced by Silent H, Ventanarosa andReveille Productions partnered with ABC Studios and executive produced by Salma Hayek, Silvio Horta, Ben Silverman, Jose Tamez and Joel Fields. The pilot was filmed in New York; seasons one and two were filmed in Los Angeles and seasons three and four in New York City.
During its first three seasons, it aired on Thursday nights, where it was mostly successful. However, viewership dropped significantly in the show's third season, particularly in the important 18–49 age group. In October 2009, the series was moved to Fridays, where it had trouble finding an audience. The backlash from its fans prompted ABC to move the show to Wednesdays at 10:00 pm Eastern/9:00 pm Central starting January 6, 2010, where it was thought that it would better complement its Wednesday hits Modern Family and Cougar Town, but on January 27, 2010, ABC announced it was canceling the series due to low ratings. With the end of the series, there was talk of a push by Ana Ortiz and America Ferrera for an Ugly Bettymovie.
Betty Suarez is a quirky, 22-year-old Mexican American woman from Queens, New York who is sorely lacking in fashion sense. She is known to be bold, good-hearted, and slightly naïve. She is abruptly thrust into a different world when she lands a job at Mode, a trendy, high fashion magazine based in Manhattan that is part of the publishing empire of the wealthy Bradford Meade. Bradford's son Daniel has been installed as Editor-in-Chief of Mode following the death of Fey Sommers (Bradford's longtime mistress). Bradford hires the inexperienced Betty as his womanizing son's newest personal assistant to curb his habit of sleeping with his assistants. As time goes by, Betty and Daniel become friends and help each other navigate their individual professional and personal lives.
Life at Mode is made difficult for both Betty and Daniel by their co-workers. Their most serious threat comes from Creative Director Wilhelmina Slater, a vindictive schemer who devises numerous plots to steal Daniel's job and seize control of the Meade empire. In addition, Wilhelmina's loyal assistant Marc St. James and Mode receptionist Amanda Tanen continually mock and humiliate Betty for her lackluster physical appearance, awkward nature, and initial lack of taste in fashion, though they both ultimately warm to Betty in later seasons. However, not everyone at Mode is against Betty; she gains loyal friends in Scottish seamstress Christina McKinney and nerdy accountant Henry Grubstick. She also receives strong support from her father Ignacio, older sister Hilda, and nephew Justin.
Season one premiered in the United States on September 28, 2006 and aired 23 episodes. Major plotlines during the first season include: Betty and Daniel settling into their respective roles as personal assistant and editor-in-chief at a fashion magazine; Betty's relationships with pre-Mode boyfriend Walter and new love interest Henry; Daniel's numerous sexual conquests and his relationship with fellow editor Sofia Reyes (Salma Hayek); Wilhelmina's plots with the "Mystery Lady" to undermine Bradford and Daniel's positions at Meade Publications; Christina's temporary switch to Wilhelmina's side in an attempt to boost her career; the truth behind the murder of Fey Sommers and the death of Daniel's older brother Alex; Ignacio's immigration status and health problems; and Hilda's struggle to find a new career and salvage her relationship with Justin's dad, Santos.
Major plotlines this season include the following: the love triangle between Betty, Henry, and a deli shop worker named Giovanni "Gio" Rossi; Claire's escape from prison, recapture, and trial for the murder of Fey Sommers; the aborted wedding of Wilhelmina Slater and :Bradford Meade; Hilda and Justin's reaction to the murder of Santos in the season 1 finale, Daniel and Alexis's power struggle after their father's death; Amanda's search for her biological father; Marc's relationship with fashion photographer Cliff St. Paul; Hilda's attempt to start her new beautician career and a relationship with Justin's gym teacher; Christina's reunion with her ailing husband; and Wilhelmina's scheme to conceive an heir to the Meade fortune using Bradford's sperm.The season's theme was "Brighter, Bolder, Bettyer" with a reworked version of Mika's "Hey Betty (You Are Beautiful)" being used as the featured song in its promos. Nine new recurring characters, played by Freddy Rodríguez, Illeana Douglas, Alec Mapa, David Blue, John Cho, Gabrielle Union, Gene Simmons, and Eddie Cibrian were introduced. Lorraine Toussaintcontinued in her role as Claire's fellow prison escapee, Yoga, as a recurring character. Production was halted in November 2007 due to the Writers Guild of America strike; ultimately the season episode order was cut to 18 instead of a proposed 23. New episodes did not air on U.S. television until April 24, 2008, starting with "Twenty Four Candles", and ending on May 22, 2008, with "Jump". This was the last episode to be produced in Los Angeles.
The seasons begins with Betty moving to an apartment in the city, after rejecting both Henry and Gio. Major plotlines include Daniel and Wilhelmina's respective relationships with Molly and Connor - a former couple; Betty and Marc both competing in the YETI program, a series of classes for aspiring editors; Betty's new relationship with Matt Hartley, a wealthy sports editor also taking part in YETI; Christina's surrogate pregnancy for Wilhelmina, and later belief that the baby is in fact her own; Molly developing terminal cancer and Ignacio's heart problems resulting in Betty having to return home, resulting in Marc and Amanda taking on Betty's apartment.ABC renewed the series for a third season on February 11, 2008. In addition, production was moved to New York City from Los Angeles to make the series more realistic and to take advantage of increased tax incentives in New York. The third season premiered on September 25, 2008. This season added ten new recurring regulars, played by Grant Bowler, Mark Consuelos, Heather Tom, Val Emmich, Ralph Macchio, Sarah Lafleur, Bernadette Peters, Lauren Velez and Daniel Eric Gold. Lindsay Lohan, Julian De La Celle, Derek Riddell and Eddie Cibrian returned from the second season for more appearances. "The Show" by Australian singer Lenka is used as the promo theme for the season.
The season was the last that featured Rebecca Romijn and Ashley Jensen as regulars, with Romijin's character Alexis moving to France to be with her son early in the season, and Jensen's character Christina returning to Scotland with her family in episode 20.
Following dropping ratings in Season 3, Ugly Betty was moved from its Thursday night slot to the "Friday night death slot" resulting in further ratings decreases and protests from fans. Despite moving the show to a new Wednesday night slot in January, ratings failed to improve, and on January 27, 2010,ABC confirmed that the series would end in April, at the same time as reducing the season length from 22 to 20 episodes.
Following the events of the season 3 finale, Betty is promoted to editor at Mode, but faces increased pressure when her former boyfriend Matt is named as her boss, in addition to hostility from Marc, who was passed over for promotion for Betty. Further storylines include Justin being bullied upon moving to High School and subsequent relationship with male classmate Austin; Daniel struggling to adapt following Molly's death; Claire tracking down her long-lost son Tyler and his subsequent alcoholism; Hilda renewing her relationship with Bobby Telercio (Adam Rodriguez) and subsequent engagement and marriage.
The series concludes with the Suarez sisters leaving home, with Betty accepting a new job in London and Hilda and Justin moving out to live with Bobby. Daniel gives up his position at Mode, handing the reins to Wilhelmina; Marc's efforts are finally vindicated via promotion and Amanda is successful in finding her birth father. In the final scene, Daniel bumps into Betty in London, informing her that he is looking for his passion, and Betty jokingly offering him a role as her assistant.
Following news of the show's cancellation, a number of former cast members returned to reprise their roles in guest appearances, including Ashley Jensen, Christopher Gorham, Freddy Rodríguez and Grant Bowler.
- List of main roles
|Actor or actress||Character||Starring seasons||Recurring seasons||Episodes||Episode count|
|America Ferrera||Betty Suarez||all||—||1.01–4.20||85|
|Eric Mabius||Daniel Meade||all||—||1.01–4.20||85|
|Vanessa L. Williams||Wilhelmina Slater||all||—||1.01–4.20||85|
|Michael Urie||Marc St. James||all||—||1.01–4.20||85|
|Becki Newton||Amanda Tanen||all||—||1.01–4.20||85|
|Ana Ortiz||Hilda Suarez||all||—||1.01–4.20||85|
|Tony Plana||Ignacio Suarez||all||—||1.01–4.20||85|
|Mark Indelicato||Justin Suarez||all||—||1.01–4.20||85|
|Alan Dale||Bradford Meade||1—2||—||1.01–2.09||33|
|Ashley Jensen||Christina McKinney||1—3||—||1.01–3.21, 4.18||66|
|Rebecca Romijn||Alexis Meade||1—2||3||1.13–3.04||33|
|Judith Light||Claire Meade||2—4||1||1.05–4.20||72|
|Christopher Gorham||Henry Grubstick||1—2||1||1.05–2.18, 3.01, 3.23, 4.18–4.19||35|
- List of notable recurring roles
|Actor or actress||Character||Recurring seasons||Episodes||Episode count|
|Salma Hayek||Sofia Reyes||1||1.06–1.12||6|
|Lindsay Lohan||Kimmie Keegan||2—3||2.18–3.06||4|
|Freddy Rodríguez||Gio Rossi||2—3||2.03–3.04, 4.18||12|
|Alec Mapa||Suzuki St. Pierre||2—4||2.01–4.20||30|
|Daniel Eric Gold||Matt Hartley||3—4||3.15–4.11||20|
|Grant Bowler||Connor Owens||3—4||3.06–4.20||17|
|Sarah Lafleur||Molly Meade||3||3.08–3.24, 4.07||16|
|Adam Rodriguez||Bobby Talercio||4||4.06, 4.08–4.12, 4.14–4.15, 4.18–4.20||11|