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''Ugly Betty'': Sister trouble

Alexis Meade makes her debut at Mode’s Fashion Week show; meanwhile, Hilda and Betty work out their sibling rivalry backstage

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Ugly Betty, Rebecca Romijn
Ugly Betty: Scott Garfield

Ugly Betty

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
09/28/06
performer:
America Ferrera, Eric Mabius, Ana Ortiz, Vanessa Williams
Producer:
Salma Hayek
broadcaster:
ABC
genre:
Comedy, Drama

”Ugly Betty”: Sister trouble

”Betty rules.” Justin said it best after finding out his aunt was talking to Posh’s people. No doubt this episode, ”I’m Coming Out,” was shot long before Ugly Betty took home all its award booty — and maybe I’m just high on all that — but there’s definitely a new exuberance bubbling from the show. More and more guest stars are making appearances (Katharine McPhee and Project Runway‘s Tim Gunn this week), story lines are hurtling toward their climaxes (Willy’s plan to take over Mode, Alexis’ revelation, Henry and Betty’s much suppressed romance), and Justin is back (lots of him this week!). Basically, I’m saying — as if it hadn’t already been established — that this show is really hitting its stride (on the runway, too), and this was another stellar episode. Wouldn’t you agree, Betty fans?

Something about Betty repeatedly yelling ”Betty Suarez!” into her concealed earpiece is so not Betty. But I suppose it just illustrates that our little ugly duckling is growing up (sniff, sniff) and morphing into her own version of a hard-nosed career woman. Is there any chance she’s ever even been to Fashion Week before, let alone organized a show? Doubtful, but she pulled it off with the style — and only a tenth of the diva-ness — of a seasoned fashionista. I couldn’t be more proud. Like the show, Betty is hitting her stride.

Still, Betty has some growing up to do, especially in her relationship with Hilda. Who woulda guessed that Betty has always felt she’s living in the shadow of her older sister? I mean, Hilda? Seriously? The woman who popped out a baby at a young age and used to hawk Herbalux on Queens street corners? No matter what Betty thinks, she’s got a helluva lot going for her (and don’t you forget it, Ms. Suarez!). The two sisters’ interaction served as the impetus for this week’s heart-melting moment, when Hilda sappily said to Betty: ”You’re the one with the great job, the great boss, some cute guy — who is totally into you, by the way. In the big race, you’re way ahead.” (Awwwww.) It’s moments like these that I fantasize about being adopted into the Suarez family.

As much as I can’t believe I’m saying this, I think Hilda’s got an awesome career ahead of her at Mode or in hair or fashion or something related. She’s a natural — making friends with all the models, doing their hair, getting invited to parties at G Spa after the show. How perfect was her work on the blond model with the astronomical ‘do? ”They were shorthanded, and they needed somebody with a background in big hair,” Hilda said to Betty. ”So…” — she dramatically spritzed the aerosol hairspray a few times — ”who knows better than me?” Hilda, you don’t know how right you are with that comment.

Mercifully, another Betty relationship moved forward this week, although somewhat sluggishly. Finally, Henry is showing up again (and, as we reported, is now a full cast member). But I’m really craving some tangible action. If Henry and Betty actually do kiss or something, the people who live in the apartment below me aren’t going to be too happy, because I’ll be jumping up and down in front of my futon.

The producers seem to know who else the fans have been craving: Justin! I’m amused by all of his scenes. Word to the wise, Marc: You better stop daydreaming about Mantasy Island, ’cause I think you’ve got some formidable competition for your job in Justin, as shown when he stepped in to replace Marc as Willy’s seeing-eye gay. After she asked Justin whether the NY1 fashion reporter’s outfit was a mistake, he replied, ”Colossal. She looks like a mailbox.” And when she called him Jason, he said, ”It’s Justin. But you can call me whatever you want — I love you!”

And I died when Justin resorted to threats to get Betty and Hilda to take him to Fashion Week: ”I swear, Mom, I will run away. I know a kid in sixth grade who sells crack.” Where does he get stuff like this? Wherever it is, plain and simple, Justin knows how to work it and get what he wants. It harks back to when he turned his one-day stint shadowing Betty at Mode into a multiple-day excursion.

Does Ugly Betty have the potential to be the new Will & Grace of guest-starring? Granted, neither Gunn nor McPhee (”Totally had the McPheever,” Betty hilariously said) had a substantial role this week. McPhee seemed kind of a random choice, except for that plug she slipped in for her album, which dropped this week. And Gunn — well, he’s a natural for a fashion-centric show, but I felt he was underused playing a Fashion TV reporter. Although we got one good line from him (”A ponytail at 70?” he said after Karl Lagerfeld walked by. ”Brave!”), I’d have loved it if he and Betty had become BFF or something.

Then there were the less-interesting subplots on the show:

Ignacio and Constance The immigration worker’s pursuit of Betty’s father is marginally funny right now (”Where do you keep your pepper, sugar? Because we need something spicy. Oh, wait — here I am!”), but I can’t see it really going anywhere.

Fey Sommers Even now that Bradford has been arrested for her murder, I’m still not interested in learning anything more about her death.

Marc and Amanda Their attempt to snag the ”it” item of Fashion Week wasn’t the most compelling part of the show, but it did make for some funny dialogue when Marc agreed to try to seduce the model wearing the coveted skirt: ”If this is anything like my prom night, you’re paying for the therapy.”

And on a final note, three of my other favorite scenes from the show:

1. When Alexis announced that she was formerly Alex Meade and Hilda and Justin whipped out their cameras (which looked non-digital, btw — ha!) to snap a few shots. Maybe it’s just the trash lover in me, but that’d totally be my reaction, too.

2. When Henry tracked down Betty and told her, ”Betty, you’ve got to get over to the Sean John show in the green tent. Look what I learned: popping and locking.” My head exploded at his geeky-funny moves.

3. When Betty came down the stairs on the day of the show, looking like she was wearing a Mode poncho (so reminiscent of the Guadalajara poncho). When Hilda came down, she had totally J. Lo-ed herself, slicing her shirt into the skankiest look possible. ”What?” she said to Betty. ”It still says Mode. Or Ode. Whatever!”

But what do you think, TV Watchers? What was your favorite scene or line? What’s going to happen to Meade Publications? And did Marc and Amanda ever actually get the skirt they were after?