”Ugly Betty” recap: Happy Fashion Week!
Holy Manolos, it’s Fashion Week on Ugly Betty! And Mode fiercely brought it to the industry’s most opulent convocation. With this, the series’ second annual Fashion Week episode, I got the distinct feeling that the producers are trying to brand it as what the holiday episode is for most series — a yearly must-see event. If that’s the case, frankly, I love the idea! Forget Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa — let’s celebrate skinny models and gratuitous couture!
But as we all saw last night, the series gave that expected formula a few tweaks and a few extra pounds. After Justin and what seemed like a young version of the Gossip Girl cast visited Mode and made it clear they were obsessed with anything wafer thin, Betty went on a crusade to persuade Daniel to stop hiring skeletors and instead use real-looking models for the magazine’s fashion show. At first, he wasn’t so keen on the idea (the increasingly buffoonish editor was more preoccupied with things like his new swivel chair and a yo-yo!), but after thinking about the glowing publicity he could squeeze out of Betty’s gimmick, he signed on, while visions of Fashion TV puff-pieces likely danced in his head. But then he had to run the idea past Alexis, the new president of Meade Publications. (Remember, she won the paintball contest, so she’s in charge!)
The pioneering idea was eventually approved, but with a major change that Betty didn’t know about. Instead of actually hiring heavier models, media whores Daniel and Alexis simply held a press conference where they weighed in all their usual runway hangers with a rigged scale. As Betty shrewdly put it about one of the waifs: ”I’ve eaten hamburgers that looked heavier than her!” In a hilarious bit of comedy, Justin rattled off what the models really weighed, and when Betty gave him a puzzled look about his weight-guessing abilities, he replied, ”That’s my gift! That, and accessorizing.” Naturally, Betty wasn’t going to take it. Daniel got an earful, and next thing we knew, a renegade fashion show was in the works. (Loved it when Henry and Betty were going over the code names they’d use — Princess Daisy and Black Dragon.)
The secret fashion show within a fashion show went off without a hitch — and with (Lil’) Bow Wow and Omarion serenading the voluptuous ladies as they made their way down the catwalk. The moment of the night was when Betty herself took the runway: In those few seconds, I got flashes of the little-girl Betty we’d seen earlier in the episode. Her face revealed a vulnerable cherub who just wanted to be loved for who she is. That’s what I thought was wonderful about the episode — and Ugly Betty in general. As much as we, as a society, are obsessed with making over everything — see America’s Next Top Model, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Heidi Montag — this girl in the horn-rimmed glasses has stayed true to herself and never apologized. Earlier this season, a story line about how much Betty had supposedly changed since she started working at Mode played out, but I never bought it. She’s got more conviction than any other character on television, and last night’s heartfelt episode proved it — especially as she strode to the end of that runway, horn-rimmed glasses and all.
In the end, Alexis was pleased, and she actually claimed the whole thing was her idea. I thought back to the Fashion Week episode of a year ago, which — do you recall? — was when Alexis had her official coming out as a woman. Oh, the events that fateful episode put into motion! Bradford was arrested for Fey’s murder, which Claire eventually confessed to, and Alexis came back to take over Meade. The transsexual story line seemed outlandish at the time, but with everything else going on right now (see next paragraph), it’s almost tame.
While Mode was prepping for the fashion frenzy, the jobless Willy — with the faithful Marc at her side — was prepping for a bun in the oven. Turns out, though, that her oven is what the doctor called a ”hostile womb.” (Très fitting for the superdiva, yes?) Though her eggs can be harvested, she won’t be able to actually carry a baby. And that’s a good thing: Who’d want to see a pregnant Willy anyway? She’d lose all her fierceness. Instead of procuring a surrogate through normal channels (hmm, what are normal channels for finding surrogates?), Willy enlisted her pedicurist, who Marc then discovered had a history in pornography. It provided a few quippy lines, but what was the point of this circuitous story line? Amanda and Marc eventually decided that the desperate-for-cash Christina would be their victim.
NEXT: Psychic friends
Elsewhere at Mode, Amanda was still trying to find her father. Along with Marc (whose visits to Mode felt so inorganic, given that Willy isn’t there to bark at him), she consulted with psychic Linda (a haggard-looking Annie Potts, from Designing Women). This story line is all fine and dandy, but Betty producers, please cool it with the stunt casting! I’ve said it before, but Betty is fast becoming the new Will & Grace of guest starring, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Maybe I’m behind on this, but I read that Lindsay Lohan was negotiating a possible guest appearance before the writers’ strike started. Honestly? I feel like the message is almost ”Need a career boost? Or are you just a campy-ish actor looking for a little work? Get over to Ugly Betty!” Granted, lots of these cameos have come off well — like Betty White, Posh Spice, and Mo’Nique — but Potts fell flat for me. Anyone could have played that role, so I hope they got her cheap.
Besides Betty walking down the runway, there were two other Touching Moments worth noting. First, when Betty and Amanda were in the secret sex room talking about not having a parent. It couldn’t have been sweeter when Amanda said, ”It was weird talking to you.” That kind of bonding is unheard of for the bitchily distant receptionist! The other, as usual, was between Daniel and Betty after the runway show. I never tire of their wonderful boss-assistant relationship — it’s just so damn sweet.
Icing on the cake? As usual, a bevy of Betty bites. Take a look at my favorites:
9. Justin’s schoolteacher, assuring Betty the tour of Mode went well: ”Betty, they’re New York teenagers. If they could sort of read and they don’t kill me, I’m happy.”
8. Marc, after seeing Christina sucking face with her husband, Stuart: ”Christina, you know that’s a man, not a bottle of vodka!”
7. Marc, talking to/hitting on Stuart: ”If you’ll excuse me, McStraighty, if you’ll avert your eyes, I have a clandestine meeting in the secret sex room.”
6. Amanda: ”Hey, lady!” Marc: ”Hey, tramp!”
5. Betty, talking to Bow Wow, with whom she’s stuck in the elevator: ”Don’t worry, Mr. Wow, someone will come right away!”
4. Marc, while rummaging through clothes at Mode: ”Cliff and I have a date tonight, and I’m searching for some pants with butt cleavage.”
3. Willy, expressing her disgust upon learning that her potential surrogate was a porn star: ”I’m very disappointed in you, Brandy. There’s only room for one dominatrix in this relationship.”
2. Marc, before injecting Willy with hormones: ”Okay, I never thought I’d say this to a woman before, but turn around and bend over.”
1. Willy, during her gyno exam: ”What is going on down there? Last time I was in stirrups this long, I brought home a blue ribbon from Palm Beach Equestrian!”
What are you thinking about, TV Watchers? (Hopefully lots!) What kind of story line should be set up for the underused Hilda and Ignacio? (Get back to opening the beauty shop!) Do you want Willy to be back at Mode? (My answer: Hell, yes!) And what are you going to do with your time in two weeks when the last new episode of Ugly Betty airs? (Scary!)