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TV Review: Ugly Betty – “How Betty Got Her Grieve Back”

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Okay, honestly it’s taken me two days to even sit down and write about the second season opener of Ugly Betty. Four months, I’ve looked forward to this…I feel totally let down.

The teaser of the scenes with Hilda and Santos hiding out in her bedroom after his seemingly fatal shooting at the end of last season pissed me off… twice. I should have known it was a fantasy/dream sequence for many reasons, but when I first saw Santos walk out of the bathroom I was relieved and angry. “Santos is alive?” I screamed. I was too pleased to see his handsome face to question the overly sweet dialog, Hilda’s immaculate makeup and the lack of other players in their scenes. But I also felt cheated, like in Stephen King’s Misery when the character that seemed to be dead at the end of last week’s serial manages to save himself at the last minute the next week.

But then, when we find out at the end of the episode that Hilda was imagining the entire thing and he is really dead, I got pissed all over again. I felt toyed with, and not in a Sixth Sense kind of way, but in an “It was all a dream and Bobby Ewing is alive in the shower” kind of way. Like one of my readers of an earlier review commented, “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…” As a writer I understand that Santos' death provides ideal conflict for Hilda to grow as a character (even though I was really sorry to see him go), but don't resort to that kind of a tease, it's just cheap.  

Then there’s Amanda. I know this show is basically a telenovela, and an overly camp one at that, but from the first shot of her newly wide ass in tight fuchsia satin I assumed the absurdity of her body padding must be a joke; they didn’t honestly expect us to accept it as three-month weight gain. And showing up in the middle of her parents’ group sex afternoon to find out she’s adopted was also over the top. I mean, is poor Amanda ever going to catch a break? However I did enjoy the quest for Bradford’s DNA sample.

And then there’s Daniel, stuck in two storylines, one more disappointing than the other. Alexis’s coma was so formulaic and her waking up to the sound of his voice? Please! The idea that she is waking up as Alex is appealing, though, and will hopefully result in some fleshing out in the next few episodes. And although I really love the progression and deepening of the friendship between Betty and Daniel, the burial scene of Betty’s memories of Henry went on way too long.

I love the storyline of Claire Meade and her prison buddy hiding out in the Hamptons. And Wilhelmina? Well, her character never disappoints. The battle between these two women over the cardboard Bradford is sure to be wicked and delicious. It was the one part I found totally engaging.

Okay, I am a diehard Betty fan, but I am wary. I heard from a reliable source that after the first season wrapped half the crew was fired. If this included creative staff I would suggest that they get them back, pronto, because if this first episode is any indication of what the second season holds, I for one, won’t be watching a third. You’ve got one of the best casts in television and you didn’t earn those Emmys from this kind of tired and patronizing writing. Bring back some of the first season màgico, I beg you.

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About Ann Hagman Cardinal

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    The basic overall idea of Ugly Betty is flawed. The concept is that even “ugly” people have something to offer, a lot to offer.

    But hang on, underneath it all, the big reveal is that, in fact, Betty Suarez is physically attractive.

    Mixed messages anyone? She’s appearing on a lot of magazine covers. She’s actually beautiful, not run of the mill, not regular and not ugly at all. It’s fake.

    In fact, just like A LOT of cheesy films (and some good ones), she’s only ugly with the thick glasses, dowdy hair and (arguably) braces.

    – Temple

  • Moni

    I have loved this new season of Ugly Betty. I think the writers are doing a great job. I desperately wanted to believe that Santos had survived and to find out he was dead was heartbreaking. But with the 2nd show last night, you start to see Hilda come to terms with it and move on. I love Ugly Betty!