Ugly Betty

Cross-posted at my tumblr blog

I have long been a fan of Ugly Betty, and its portrayal of important issues to do with beauty, love, career, family, friendship and other such lovely things. I first started watching this programme wanting to be a journalist, and dreaming of a life like the one that Betty was living at Mode. Obviously now my priorities have changed but my love for this show has not.

The ultimate message of Ugly Betty is very feminist-friendly. Or was, I should say, since we must now sadly talk about it in the past tense *sniff*. Oh, and if you don’t want to find out what happens in the end then consider this a full on *SPOILER ALERT*

The satire of the beauty and fashion industry has been somewhat pared down in the last few seasons, and although it remains an important element there are not so many storylines about Betty’s struggle with her chosen career and its victimisation of people just like her, people who are different in one way or the other. However, even I would have found it tedious if they had not varied their focus a little and so I will not blame them too much for giving Betty a make over and widening their focus.

What I really want to talk about today, as much as there are other things to discuss in regards to this show, is the ending. The very last episode of the show. And here it comes again *SPOILER ALERT* I was incredibly impressed with the end of this show, and I really felt that the girl power message it gave out was really positive.

There was a moment where I was all ready to tear up the blogosphere complaining about how ridiculous a Daniel-Betty love-in was, since there was no previous implication of romantic feelings between the two and that, of course, it was because women can’t possibly be happy without a man in their lives even if that man is completely unsuited to them in a romantic setting even if they *are* best friends. God knows I wouldn’t want to date my best male friends, love them though I do. I’m sure they would say the same about me.

However, I was extremely gratified to discover that they chose to divert that storyline and instead opt for one in which Betty makes an independent career move. Obviously the scene where she leaves her family, who are clearly incredibly close and supportive, is heart-wrenching. But moving to London to start a new magazine? To be a successful and powerful career woman? On her OWN? Awesome. Daniel, the lesser qualified one of the two, becoming her assistant? Even more awesome.

I have a friend who disagrees with my analysis of the ending, and thinks that Daniel promising her dinner is not an invitation of friendship but one of romantic intent. I disagree, and really feel that there’s will continue to be a relationship of friendship, support and all that good stuff. The ambiguity does make it a little less striking, however, and I still take issue with their insinuation of love. Not that I hate love. I love love. Just not between Betty and Daniel. Unless it is platonic. Obvs.

But either way, is it not a brilliant ending? There are so few positive role models on TV for girls, especially since they stopped Buffy *sniff* Thinking of the other TV shows that I have watched religiously, and very anti-feministly, recently I can think of very few examples of strong, confident and feminist women who I would be happy to emulate. Gossip Girl? Nope. 90210? Certainly not (although perhaps Silver would qualify…) Desperate Housewives? Give me a break. Maybe it is my choice of TV shows but it just seems to me that Ugly Betty is ahead of the fray in creating a feminist-friendly, if not explicitly feminist, character whose happily ever after includes friendship and career success rather than marriage and babies.

 

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