Saturday, June 19, 2010

Bye-Bye Betty

After four years on the air, the unprecedented television show Ugly Betty disappeared from the small screen earlier this year, causing Latinas/os, sexual minorities and smart consumers of popular culture to lament the loss. Reflecting a general view, the Associated Press recently described the lead character as “an educated, hard-working and family-oriented Latina, who was ambitious and career-driven.” But Betty was not a stereotype. On the contrary, Betty’s life on the show depicted the gritty realities and human aspirations that made this series edgier and livelier than most. Betty comes from a working-class Mexican immigrant family, whose father confesses to his American-born children that he, himself, is undocumented...a wildly relevant storyline. In addition, Betty’s life also reflected the role of sexual minorities in this society, including gay and transgendered characters depicted in substantive, non-stereotypical ways. Betty’s life on the show featured the rich diversity and complexity of contemporary Latina/o lives and communities in these United States.

Over the years, Betty’s work in the world of high fashion fueled her aspirations of personal glamour, a destination that she incrementally but finally achieved at the end of the series. By then, the quintessential underdog had become a self-confident and radiant woman. This non-stereotyped Latina and her family and friends became a cross-over hit precisely because they depicted life as we live it.

In return, corporate masters played with the scheduling of the show, disrupting viewer habits and leading to declining ratings that resulted in this cancellation over the objection of many fans who argued for more of Betty. But don’t give up just yet. I’ll bet you that bye-bye Betty is only for now...keep a look-out when she comes back and let’s welcome her right when she does!


'Betty' big on issues for gays, Latinos

'Betty' is sweetly entertaining to the end

By Frank Valdes

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