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''Ugly Betty'': Boy-girl troubles

In a heavier-than-usual episode of ”Ugly Betty,” Henry makes a move on Betty, then pulls back, while Daniel and Alexis battle for control of the company

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Ugly Betty

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
America Ferrera, Eric Mabius, Ana Ortiz, Vanessa Williams
Salma Hayek
Comedy, Drama

”Ugly Betty”: Boy-girl troubles

I suppose that by definition a dramedy will be a mix of funny and heavy moments. After the past couple of episodes of Ugly Betty — which focused on lighthearted topics like fashion shows and swag — this one hit me a little hard, falling much more in the drama column. Bradford is incarcerated, Daniel and Alexis duked it out, Betty avoided Walter, Justin got in a fight at school, Claire admitted to killing Fey Sommers. Ughhh, why don’t you just stab me with a Christian Louboutin spike, UB! Or suffocate me with a Kate Spade. The laughs are just so good it sometimes makes the drama a harder pill to swallow.

Even Willy — who usually provides enough one-liners and cattiness to fill the show all by herself — seemed to give up by the end of this episode, watching her career at Mode fall apart, telenovela-style. Marc and Amanda didn’t bring too many laughs, either. Just Amanda crunching on a piece of paper at the fax machine and Marc asking a paper fortune teller how many boyfriends he’ll have. Sigh. True, it’s a dark time at Mode, so I suppose [changes to begrudging tone here] the tenor of the show should reflect that.

First things first: the Betty-Walter-Henry love triangle. Or should I say quadrangle, if you factor in Henry’s ex-girlfriend, who was just sprung on us! Wow, I honestly didn’t see that one coming. But it figures, right? I mean, do romances that we pine for on television ever pan out right away? Not often, because there’s so much drama in the misery of unrequited love.

I’ve been having this thought about the Henry situation lately. In every other circumstance, Betty is the boldest person in the room. This week, she stopped the press-conference battle and tricked the sparring siblings into going to Coney Island together. She slapped the bottle out of Claire’s hands at the spa after she said she’d drink it all. And she even rammed Daniel and Alexis with her bumper car to get them to start talking again. We’ve known it from day one: This girl’s got balls. (Can I say that?) But when it comes to her own love life, she’s not willing to do what her heart is telling her, to be bold for herself. Instead of actually talking to Walter — or Henry for that matter — she avoided the situation until she had nowhere else to run. And what should have been a happy ending, with Henry and Betty going to see Wicked together, turned into crap. All because our heroine didn’t have the guts to tell Henry that she and Walter were no longer together. Buck up, Betty! We’re counting on you.

Is it just that she has so much heart that she can’t bear to ruin a potentially good relationship for Henry? Can she honestly believe that Henry would be happier with his ex-girlfriend? Honestly, we don’t know Henry and his ex’s history, but it’s obvious that he’s into Betty. So why can’t she just let herself go and make something happen for herself? I was dying as I watched when she just let Henry drift away at the end of the show. How could you do that, Betty? Sigh again.

And I’m gonna go there. No matter how much bellyaching I’ve done about Walter over the entire season, I was a teensy-weensy bit unhappy to see him go. His one kiss before they ended things — a scene set to some sad, sad music — was cute, and it broke my heart just a tad. But I’m gonna be strong and keep rooting for the Henry-Betty hookup.

In other heaviness: Claire confessed to killing Fey! I knew something was up when she was factoring heavily into this episode. I love Judith Light as much as the next person (she’s great at playing a boozy rich type), but she’s never had this much screen time before. Early on when she stated firmly that Bradford didn’t murder Fey, I pegged her as the one who did it. But I’m not quite buying it. Killing over an affair? For Bradford? He may be a moneybags — and maybe he’s even good in the sack — but Claire can’t honestly love the devil, can she?

And Justin’s story line was touching. After all we’ve seen of him — and knowing the cruelty of kids at school — I assumed that he got into a fight because a classmate teased him for knowing what couture was or doing a move from his Jazzercise class on the playground. But I honestly got choked up when I found out he was defending Hilda after the kid called her a ”slut mom.” Puffs moment: When Justin said, ”You are a mom. The mom who always tells me to be who I am and not care what other people think. Don’t you have to do that, too?” I love it when kids can turn around their parents’ advice. It’s so vindicating. And then, for a little comic value, Justin added, ”Well, I don’t care for the animal prints, and you’re a little overaccessorized. But you have your own style. It’s cool.” What really got me going was when he had gone upstairs after the fight and blasted ”Tomorrow,” from Annie. You go, Justin!

Then there’s Willy. Poor, poor Willy. I love her so much, I was hoping her plan to be installed as the editor in chief of Mode would materialize. She had the business cards made up and everything! All she’s wanted since we’ve known her is to be in charge — and I’m sure that watching Daniel do the job she wants with less passion has to be hard for her. I cried happy tears when she walked around the office firing people, only recognizing whom she was offing by holding a Polaroid up to their face. She even asked one girl if the person in the shot was actually her! And the orchid cam was typically over-the-top and fabulous. We can only guess what she’s seen Marc do when he’s there alone.

On a final serious note, I’m done with Justin’s dad, Santos. When he was around during Thanksgiving, I thought he might be worth a chance. He seemed to want to try to be a part of Justin and Hilda’s life. Then he disappeared again, only to show up as a huge bigot, decrying everything his snaptastic little son is about. ”Something tells me he ain’t gonna knock someone up on his prom night.” ‘Scuse me? He’s had nothing to do with Justin’s day-to-day life before now, so where does he get off saying such things? For your information, Santos, everyone over here on this side of the TV screen loves Justin.

After looking back on my notes from my first viewing of this episode — and considering my theme about how heavy it was — I realized there were lots of little gem quotes and scenes that I wanted to make sure to mention. Here’s a smattering of what I thought was the best:

· Alexis, to Betty, who’s checking her out in the elevator: ”And no, I haven’t given up smoking. It’s a hormone patch, so my mustache doesn’t grow back.” Betty: ”Really? Where’d you get that? Because I have to bleach all the time and it is such a pain.”

· Henry: ”When the paparazzi are stalking accountants, you know it’s bad.” Betty: ”I know, they were following me, too. And one of them thought my glasses and nose were a disguise.”

· Willy called Marc Evita! Ha!

· Marc: ”Styles wants to know what you thought about those tankinis.” Willy: ”I think somewhere there’s a lesbian water-polo team that’ll love them.”

· Claire: ”It’s ridiculous. One DUI, you OD a couple of times, show up naked at a garden party, and suddenly everyone treats you like a child.”

· Willy, to her cleaning lady, who she’s never met in 13 years: ”Nice to put a face with the burrito wrapper you left on my counter.”

· Hilda: ”There hasn’t been an ‘us’ with Justin since the back seat of your rented Camaro. You can leave now.”

But tell me, trusty TV Watchers, what were your favorite lines? Did you think there was too much drama in this episode? How long will Daniel and Alexis’ truce last? And what happened to the Constance-Ignacio story line? (I’ll admit I was over it already anyway.) Talk to me!