Saturday, November 25, 2006

I think I just found my new screensaver

I am loving Ugly Betty, the US version of the Columbian telenovela Yo Soy Betty La Fea. It comes to the UK early next year on Fridays on Channel 4. But all the episodes can be mininova-ed and watched in one glorious Ugly Betty orgy.

The premise is a bit similar to The Devil Wears Prada and a sitcom called Almost Perfect, dealing with similar issues of the nice but clueless new girl in a high-powered workplace setting. Betty is given a job as a PA to a fashion magazine exec because she won't be a sexual temptation to him.

Ugly Betty is very fast-paced, bitchy, funny and sad all at once. It freely acknowledges all its other influences - Betty's little gay nephew says on a visit to her office, "It's just like Top Model except no-one's crying" and in a storyline involving "The book" he says "I've seen Prada like seven times!"

The show also parodies vaccuous television channel E with frequent clips from "F", the Fashion Channel, where snarky British presenters dish all the gossip. And the show pays homage to its telenovella roots by having campy Spanish telenovellas almost constantly playing in the background on the tv in Betty's house in Queens.

And I love how Eric Mabius, who places Betty's suave boss, also played Steve, the cool singer in the band who was the object of Dawn Weiner's affections in another "ugly Betty" film - Welcome to The Dollhouse. Gina Gershon also crops up in the first episode, channeling Donatella Versace with scary accuracy.

And there's great use of music. A couple of my favourite songs (Hip Teens Don't Wear Blue Jeans and One Mint Julip) appear in the first two episodes - both during scenes in the workplace restaurant where all the thin, beautiful people recoil in horror at Betty's presence.

With a show like this, there's always the temptation to give Betty a makeover and make her beautiful so she gets the man of her dreams. However, not all makeovers are an improvement, as the clip below shows. Look out for Jim Robinson from Neighbours also (without so much as an Australian accent!) And the very camp guy at the end is my favourite character.


matty said...

Everyone is talking of this show. I've not seen it and just realized that we got rid of cable. So, I will have to wait for the DVD!

Tom SF said...

Is that relaly Jim Robinson in the lift?

PS can you switch on anonymous commenting?

Lubin said...

I counted 4 pinadas in that clip!