Talking Point: not-so-ugly Betty?

20 October 2009

ugly betty

Why do we love Ugly Betty so much? Well, the clue is in the name... Braces and all, Betty’s geek-chic style is her unique selling point – the perfect antidote to that luscious lot in Gossip Girl and The Hills (far too beautiful for their own good). So why oh why have producers given Betty a ‘Mode-over’? The braces are off, she's got stylish new specs, her hair's been straightened and her eyebrows expertly tweezed.

‘It’ll still be Betty,’ said the show producer Silvio Horta, ‘but you’ll see some growth in [her look].’ Gone are the ponchos and mismatched knitwear, Betty has a new, ‘more mature’ wardrobe (still styled by Patricia Fields) in line with her promotion to magazine editor. But ABC were careful not to make her too couture. When planning the transformation, the producers did some market research. They showed a group of fans two scenes from the new series, both featuring the new, improved Betty. In one, she wore a Chanel-esque pastel pink suit and in the other, a black dress with a ruffled V-neck. ‘Can Betty still be Betty if she looks less ugly?’ they asked.

ugly betty

The focus group obviously voted yes, because the transformation went ahead. But the show’s ratings tell a different story. The first episode, aired in the US last week, netted only 8 million viewers (down nearly 3 million on last series). At least the British Orthodontic Society will be happy. For some time now they’ve campaigned for Betty’s braces to be removed. ‘Ugly Betty is in its third year on our TV screens and Betty remains in overexaggerated, heavy train-track braces,’ a spokesperson said. ‘This is not a true reflection of orthodontic practice. It is highly unlikely an adult would wear braces beyond two years.’

So, what’s next for Betty? Will she succumb to the size zero trend? ‘We are not going to turn her into a supermodel,’ said Ana Ortiz, who plays Hilda., ‘She is Betty and she will always be Betty, but she's going to evolve.’

So, do you think non-ugly Betty will be as lovable? Tell us your thoughts…

- Amy Molloy


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