I read on the Internet today that America Ferrera, the star of the television series, Ugly Betty, recently married her long-time boyfriend, Ryan Piers Williams. Up until two weeks ago that would have meant nothing to me, because until AXN started running autopsy shows during the dinner hour and forced me to seek out other channels, I had no idea who America Ferrera or her alter ego, "Ugly" Betty Suarez, were.
But now I know.
I have been watching Ugly Betty each weekday evening - and three times on Mondays. Basically I have caught the end of season one and the beginning of season two. I have seen the episodes where Salma Hayek guest-starred as a very shrewd Mexican magazine editor, and even caught one episode featuring Marlo Thomas as an older woman who had a penchant for young men. Hayek was one of the show's executive producers.
I like this show. True, I have some difficulty with the name, but I get the point that the show is trying to make. Betty, America's character, was hired by a very rich publisher to be a personal assistant to his playboy son whom he had just made editor of his big fashion magazine. The father chose Betty for the job because of her looks - somewhat of a weight issue, bad bangs, eyebrows that look like jousting wooly worms, thick glasses, and blue braces. He felt that she was someone with whom his son would not have sex.
Viewers quickly see that Betty is a great assistant who gets her boss out of many scrapes of his own making. She is dependable, loyal, and impishly cute even if she has no sense of fashion. The lesson, of course, is that just as beauty is only skin deep - so, too, is ugly. It's who we are on the inside that really matters.
The setting is downtown Manhattan, and the show focuses on the lives of the rich and famous - as well as Betty's ordinary Mexican-American family who live in Queens. Many of the best and most revealing moments occur when the high and mighty of Manhattan find themselves coming to Queens for the advice and warmth of Betty's family.
Ugly Betty, just in the few episodes that I have seen so far, touches on some very timely issues. She and her sister, Hilda, have been raised by their widowed father, Ignacio, whom they discover is actually an illegal immigrant. Hilda's son, Justin, is a young adolescent who shows every sign of being gay - and he is warmly accepted by his loving family and those who enter the Suarez home. And Alex, the other son of the rich publisher who was thought to have died in a skiing accident, returns to his family and friends as the trans-gendered Alexis.
A standout performer in the show is former Miss America, Vanessa Williams, whose character is vile and sinister enough to be Cruella DeVille's wicked step-mother.
The show, Ugly Betty, ran four seasons, from 2006 until 2010 (85 episodes). It was very well written and acted, and reinforced time and again the truism that ugly is only skin deep.
For the record, America Ferrera is actually quite pretty!
My very best to Mr. and Mrs. Ryan Piers Williams.