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TV Review: Ugly Betty – “Family Affair”

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Okay, so Amanda’s weight gain was … what? Metaphorical? She’s back to her usual size zero and has inherited her newly discovered yet recently murdered mother, Fey Sommer’s naked dog. At first she agrees to take the dog because of the $1,000 weekly allowance, but by the end of the episode she decides that since the butt-ugly pooch is her one remaining connection to her deceased mother, she’ll keep it. Meanwhile she’s waiting to hear the results of the DNA test to determine if Bradford Meade is indeed her father.

It seems that Alexis has awakened from her coma with partial amnesia — last she knew she was a man, her mother wasn’t a convict, and s/he had a good relationship with his/her father. By spending time with her, Bradford has realized that he has a second chance at establishing a meaningful father/daughter relationship, confusing the shit out of poor Daniel.

Wilhelmina — just love her — gets caught enjoying an “afternoon delight” with her gorgeous yet scary bodyguard, and Betty finds herself in a position to negotiate her father’s visa. But is making this deal selling her soul to the she-devil? Tensions escalate as her father threatens to come home illegally, so she agrees to keep quiet about the affair in exchange for Wilhelmina arranging her father’s legal return.

Justin is flourishing in his fashion-elf internship at Mode, finding an unlikely mentor in Marc. These two have become my favorite characters in the show, demonstrating growth and complexity mixed with humor, and the actors are just flawless. I’m glad that we’re seeing some grief from poor Justin. As someone who lost a father as a child I was hoping they would take advantage of this opportunity to explore childhood grief. But I’m also grateful they have given him a mentor who can show him that there is nothing wrong with who he is — his father accepted this before his death, after all.

Then there’s Hilda. I have high hopes for Hilda this season, and I truly hope the writers will meet them. What a brilliant and gorgeous actress they have in Ana Ortiz. There is tremendous possibility for Hilda’s growth now — ups and downs — and I’m really hoping they let her spread her wings. The only thing that keeps Hilda from being a caricature with her body-hugging clothes, nail extensions, and upbeat personality is the depth of Ortiz’s talent. Now let’s take her to the next stage, one not defined by her fiancé, father, or any man.

Betty’s father’s scenes in Mexico are too short to reveal much, but ending with a gun pointed at his head certainly holds promise for complications next week. And Henry shows up at Betty’s house drunk — on wine coolers, no less, gotta love it — after Christina tells him that Charlie cheated on him and the baby might not be his. Will Betty take the bait and finally commit to Henry? I read recently that the enormously talented and ever adorable Freddy Rodriguez will be appearing soon as a new love interest for Betty. I can’t wait to see that (and I won’t be limited to watching him on Six Feet Under DVDs).

Other favorite moments: Wilhelmina going wild with a baseball bat in the field of dismembered mannequins on the roof while Marc shakes sheet metal to simulate thunder. Christina’s endless lexicon of variations on the phrase “devil’s lair” as she tiptoes, wide-eyed, through Wilhelmina’s apartment. And Alexis — as Alex — fondling his/her own breasts with joyful abandon.

I know I was unhappy last week — truth be told after four months of waiting it was bound to be disappointing on some level — but I’m feeling more hopeful for the season after last night’s episode. It still wasn’t up to the caliber of last season, but it was miles better than last week’s debacle. I also think I hold this show up to a higher standard because after the cancelling of The George Lopez Show, it is only one of two Hispanic-themed network shows. Not to mention the fact that it has one of the finest collection of acting talent I’ve ever seen. So I’ll put Starland Vocal Band on the turntable and get geared up for next week’s. They haven’t lost me yet.

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About Ann Hagman Cardinal

  • Carlos

    i have been reading your reviews about the show… I agree with somethings you say, but please keep watching, UB is a wonderful show that explores things other shows in a million years will not do/discuss/explain… (i.e immigration, gay characters with such a huge impact on the show, marc’s coming out to his mom, death of a parent, sex transgender, latino influence, “UGLY” characters that are also the core of the show, evil people, prison breaks, tons of jokes and funny lines, and last but not least a very realistic view of the fashion industry)