Who remembers having fun and be thrilled with Betty Suarez and her famous Guadalajara poncho and followed all the challenges she had faced to be respected at Mode magazine and its world of appearances, frivolities and vanities, throughout her journey in “Ugly Betty” series? She taught us a powerful life lesson over four seasons that we cannot judge a book by its cover, because the only thing which matters is the inner beauty that each individual carries within them.
“Ugly Betty” is a dramedy series developed by Silvio Horta, which was originally broadcast on ABC and ran from 2006 to 2010. The series is based on Fernando Gaitán‘s Colombian telenovela “Yo soy Betty, la fea”, which has many other international adaptations, including in Brazil (“Bela, a feia”). It stars America Ferrera , Eric Mabius, Vanessa Williams, Judith Light, Tony Plana, Ana Ortiz, Becki Newton, Michael Urie, Rebecca Romijn, Mark Indelicato, Ashley Jensen and Christopher Gorham.
It was produced by Silent H, Ventanarosa, and Reveille Productions partnered with ABC Studios, with Salma Hayek , Horta, Ben Silverman, Jose Tamez, and Joel Fields serving as executive producers.
The series revolves around the character Betty Suarez, who is a smart, quirky, 22-year-old Mexican American woman from Queens, New York, who is sorely lacking in fashion sense. She is known for her adult braces, rather unusual wardrobe choices, sweet nature, and slight naïveté. She is abruptly thrust into a different world when she lands a job at Mode, a trendy, high-fashion magazine based in Manhattan that is part of the publishing empire Meade Publications owned by the wealthy Bradford Meade.
Bradford’s son, Daniel, has been installed as editor-in-chief of Mode following the death of Fey Sommers (Bradford’s longtime mistress). Bradford hires the inexperienced Betty as his womanising son’s newest personal assistant to curb his habit of sleeping with his assistants. As time goes by, Betty and Daniel become friends and help each other navigate their individual professional and personal lives.
Life at Mode is made difficult for both Betty and Daniel by their co-workers. Their most serious threat comes from creative director Wilhelmina Slater, a vindictive schemer who devises numerous plots to steal Daniel’s job and seize control of the Meade empire. In addition, Wilhelmina’s loyal assistant Marc St. James and Mode receptionist Amanda Tanen continually mock and humiliate Betty for her lacklustre physical appearance, awkward nature, and initial lack of taste in fashion, although they both ultimately warm to Betty in later seasons.
However, not everyone at Mode is against Betty; she gains loyal friends in Scottish seamstress Christina McKinney and nerdy accountant Henry Grubstick. She also receives strong support from her father, Ignacio, older sister, Hilda, and nephew Justin.
The pilot was filmed in New York City; seasons one and two were filmed in Los Angeles and seasons three and four were filmed in New York City.
The Suarez family is from Mexico, but none of the actors are ethnically Mexican. America Ferrera is Honduran, Tony Plana is Cuban, Ana Ortiz is Puerto Rican-Irish, and Mark Indelicato is Puerto Rican-Italian.
Salma Hayek enjoyed being on set so much that she took advantage of her producer role to get the part of Sofia Reyes.
The series has been sold to TV networks and broadcasters in over 130 countries, making this version the most successful of the “Betty La Fea” franchise.
Ugly Betty was fundamental to bring visibility to Latin and LGBTQ+ communities on TV, in the 2000s.