Brace yourselves, people. I had some serious issues with the 3rd season premiere of Ugly Betty.
My sentiments exacty, Justin…
But first, the obligatory preface. I love this show like Betty loves empanadas. I think about it, I talk about it, I lurk in fan forums… if it would make me any money I’d sell it on street corners. My devotion has been sealed with oil and blessed by the nearest Bishop. My loyalty has never been questioned. But I hated this episode. HATED!
Why, Reeva, WHY!?! Spoiler-ridden discussion after the jump…
Let’s review what all went down in this premiere…
So, as far as that huuuggggeee decision Betty needed to make on last season’s finale? Well, Betty chose not to choose. That was smart and mature and not altogether unexpected. We learn of all of this in a foggy, hazy flashback. After being beaned in the head by a softball, she hands Henry his ring and tells him she’s sorry (well done, Betty), and then she turns to Gio and tells him thanks, but no thanks, she doesn’t feel the same way about him, which LIAR!! Did I mention that all of this happened in less than 10 seconds? We find out that instead of joining Guy A or Guy B at the airport, she trekked to the cemetery to have a chat with her mom, which was sweet and poignant and also lasted less than 10 seconds. Then we zip through an opening credits montage of her journeys through the American Southwest where she searched her soul, climbed rocks, acted out every road movie cliché there has ever been, and discovered that her power animal is an ugly turquoise dove. And all of this happened before the title card rolled. How efficient!
And now The Betty is back and she has a plan. While she was away, she decided what she had to do, which she captured in her handy dandy binder ‘o self improvement: 1. take more responsibility at work in order to land a promotion within a year, 2. get an apartment in the city, 3. abstain from romantic entanglements.
Mission 1 is immediately sidetracked, thanks to Wilhelmina and her soul-sucking obsession with all things black and white. Betty barely escapes getting bludgeoned with Wili’s sledgehammer and proceeds downstairs to join Daniel in his new venture, a gross gamer/fratboy/unwashed men’s magazine called Player, which is oddly appropriate for Daniel and devastatingly inappropriate for Betty. The staff literally boos her ugliness and Daniel’s kid is running amuck, so clearly everything is going well and we can check Mission 1 off the list.
Mission 2 is accomplished handily, but not necessarily successfully, mostly because Betty commits the cardinal sin of signing a lease without seeing the property. Now I realize the general conceit of this whole episode is Betty is some naïve youngster trying to make her way in the world, but I think any moron knows better than to enter into a lease agreement blindly, and although it’s absolutely UNBELIEVABLE that someone like Betty, who’s been taking care of her family’s affairs for umpteen years and who often seems to be the only person thinking anything through from beginning to end would make this kind of mistake, I guess we’re just going to have to accept that her trip to the Grand Canyon caused her to empty all of her brain-cells into a tin can on the side of Route 66, so we better get used to these kinds of hiccups in her judgment.
Mission 3 is going very smoothly right until the last 5 minutes of the episode when Betty meets a cute musician playing his music too loud in her new apartment building, a development as inevitable and predictable as, well… everything in this episode turned out to be . You know what, writers? It isn’t ironic if we know it’s coming.
Meanwhile, Hilda is up to her leopard-print tube-top in love with the Coach, who is married, which apparently doesn’t bother Hilda too much, except when his wife keeps hitting up his cellular device while he and his mistress are trying to get buzay on the living room sofa in the house that his mistress shares with her father and teenage son.
Mr. Suarez got a job at a burger chain and Lindsay Lohan is his boss slash Betty’s high school nemesis.
Daniel is now the editor-in-chief of a lowbrow non-pornographic men’s magazine and his kid is an enfant terrible.
Elsewhere in the Meade building, Wilhelmina has begun her tyrannical and apparently sub-arctic reign over Mode, and has already turned Daniel’s office into a gothic nightmare of a nursery for a baby begat by a dead man’s sperm.
Alexis is still clueless. Christina is still pregnant with Wili’s trump card. And Mark and Amanda are still Mark and Amanda, which is a miracle.
That’s a lot of plot, isn’t it?? It seems Betty sure missed a lot while she was away. Apparently, it only takes one Betty-free month for everyone in her life to deteriorate into slobbering, oafish buffoons. So much of what happened in this episode seemed like a bad dream… it was all so unbelievable that it strayed dangerously close to being dishonest. Like, for example, would the Betty we know really get into a food fight with her high school bully in a public place? Would she really be cool with Daniel bastardizing her great idea for an uplifting article about a troop of motorcycling breast cancer survivors into a tawdry, T&A publicity stunt? And it’s not just Betty… Would the Alexis we know really be so easily duped by Wili (and Regis and Kelly) into sabotaging her own mother’s magazine? And would the Hilda we know willingly enter into an affair with a married man after everything she has been through, even if it is Eddie Cibrian? Ok, that’s not a good example…he is SO FINE!
At the end of the episode, Betty more or less confirms that everything that went down in the last 40 minutes was bizarre and out of character, and by removing that awful dove from around her neck, we are assured that Betty as we know her, the smart, independent, totally non-schizo Betty is back and here to stay. We hope.
What freaks me out is that I endorse the majority of the developments that transpired in this episode, from Betty’s decision to dump both guys, to Wili’s takeover of Mode, to Alexis’s betrayal of her family, to Daniel’s relationship with his son… I mean, it’s all good stuff. I guess what’s bothering me is that it all happened WAY TOO FAST. I’m wondering if this episode was the second half of season 2 stuffed into one episode, and the more I wonder, the more convinced I am. The best example of this would have to be the introduction of a new love interest for Betty. He’s cute and all (and we shall explore him further in later posts, I’m sure), but I’M NOT OVER HENRY AND GIO!! It took Betty the entire first half of season 2 to get over Henry and we only just started getting to know Gio, and now there’s another guy?? BOO! (Although, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Gio and his salami…)
In conclooje, this episode was a complete trainwreck; not because of where we ended up but because of how we got there. Hopefully, the writers will SLOW THE F*** DOWN and let us actually witness the stories taking place, rather than launching into entirely new territory without exposition or development. And even more hopefully, Betty will be an intelligent, thoughtful creature in the future, instead of the impulsive, unbalanced loon she was in this episode. I WANT my Betty back!