Watching an entire television season (23 episodes) over the course of three days can be an interesting experience. Getting to see so many episodes in such a short time gives a different view of the season than watching the same 23 episodes over the course of 40 or so weeks. The dropping of some storylines, the additions of new ones, things returning from an early episode in a later one all become much more apparent. When this type of viewing takes place for a show’s first season, the changes are highlighted in even more detail. The first season of Ugly Betty, just released to DVD, provides a perfect example of this.
Starring America Ferrera as the titular Betty Suarez, the show is a classic fish-out-of-water tale that thrusts Betty, an at best average-looking Latina woman, into the world of high fashion. Betty, who has always wanted to be a writer, lands a job at MODE, a fashion magazine, as the assistant to the new Editor-in-Chief, Daniel Meade (Eric Mabius).
Looked down upon by her ultra-thin (and often shallow) peers, Betty struggles to find her footing and to be accepted for who she is, and not who people think she should be. She continually butts heads with two of the funniest characters, or perhaps caricatures, on the show, the receptionist Amanda (Becky Newton) and an assistant, Marc (Michael Urie). As the season progresses, Betty proves herself over and over again, eventually winning the respect of Daniel and making a friend or two.
Alongside this story arc, the season also pushes a tale of revenge. The creative director at MODE, Wilhelmina Slater (Vanessa Williams), upset that she did not get the job of Editor-in-Chief upon the demise of the previous one, has aligned herself with a mysterious, bandaged woman, who is plotting to take over the corporation that owns MODE (which just happens to be owned by Daniel’s father). Making matters more complicated, Daniel’s father, Bradford (Alan Dale) was having a decades long affair with the previous Editor-in-Chief, who just happened to die in a mysterious car crash… maybe.