After four seasons the show that introduced an “unattractive” woman as its main character will come to an end. Ugly Betty, starring America Ferrera, holds it show finale Wednesday, April 14, and its expected to be a memorable goodbye.
Betty, who has undergone a major evolution from bullied geek to respected associate editor at Mode, a fashion magazine, may be moving to the UK. Not only that, bad girl Wilhelmina Slater, played by Vanessa Williams, may die.
In the penultimate episode Tyler, Neal Bledsoe, confronts his mother Claire, Judith Light, for giving him away when he was born. He has a gun during the confrontation and Wilhelmina steps between mother and son to try to take the gun away from Tyler, who is shocked and emotional.
A shot is fired and the show ends in suspense. Leaving viewers wondering if the woman who brought down Mode was shot, and whether or not she’ll survive. The episode also included the moving coming out of Betty’s nephew Justin, Mark Indelicato. After a humorous "coming out party" the family planned for him that thankfully Justin did not have to endure.
Betty’s love life was also up in the air. In this season show writers have merged Betty and Daniel’s, Matt Hartley, story lines to most likely pair them together in the last hour. But amidst all the exciting final developments there is a bigger question that will be left unanswered after Wednesday night. What’s going to happen after Ugly Betty?
The show, based after the original Colombian soap opera "Yo Soy Betty, la Fea," is the first successful TV program featuring a main Latin character and involving minorities in main plot lines. In a way Latin, gay, Black and other "minorities" could relate to the show because it dealt with real life issues. From Betty’s father illegal immigrant status in the U.S. to women’s image expectations.
Dennis Pastorizo, entertainment producer for Terra USA, has loyally followed and reviewed Ugly Betty for four years. He spoke to Blast and said the show will be certainly missed. Terra is the nation’s leading site offering news, sports, entertainment, and lifestyle coverage in Spanish for U.S. Latinos.
"It was definitely a groundbreaking show for Latino actors and the Latino community," Pastorizo said. "Other than the George Lopez sitcom I can’t think of another show with a Latin actor out there that won so many awards and had so much success."
Pastorizo compares the ABC show to those other networks, such as MTV Tr3s or HolaMun2, have tried to produce to cater to Spanish speaking viewers. These networks are made specifically for the young Latino generation, which is increasing in the U.S.
What made Ugly Betty successful with Americans and Latinos may have been that its connection to the soap opera was modified to fit Hollywood expectations. Great production addressing national issues, and jokes intended for second or third generation Latino and English-only speakers viewers to understand. But when asked if this was a formula that future shows could use, Pastorizo was unsure.
"I don’t even know if â€˜Betty’ can be called a one hit wonder. I know that several years ago network TV adapted several Spanish soap operas into English and they all flopped because they were bad adaptations really set up like soap operas. Univision has the series “Hermanos y Detectives,” and I heard rumors it’d be developed for American TV. I wish I could look into a crystal ball and say â€˜yes this is a recipe for success to be followed,’ but it would have to be something produced by someone like Salma [Hayek] again."
It would also need more exclusive support from Latino audiences. The Terra producer said that a large percentage of its audience was not Latin.
"The success of Ugly Betty I don’t think is attributed to Latinos watching. Because it was based on the Spanish version many thought it would be a copy but they didn’t realize it wasn’t. The show was good to hit the core of non-Spanish speaking audiences showing a Latina main character and her Hispanic family but with Black, White, gay and straight characters too," said Pastorizo. "It was telling â€˜I am a Hispanic in the U.S. but around me there are people of other cultures."
What Latinos did do was growth behind the scenes. More producers and actors have gotten noticed and hired. The latest "made" example being Sofia Vergara, the sultry Colombian mother and wife in Modern Family. So, despite not having a recipe for success Latinos are on their way to being key players in Hollywood and maybe the next Tyler Perry’s.
"There’s been concerns that the only roles they can audition for are maids or gardeners," said Pastorizo. "So I expect to see more Latino characters in major roles and playing not just Latino roles but other nationalities because after all these are actors! At the end of the day we don’t just need acting but also power so projects will produced be supported."
And if another minority-based show were to be successful in the future, it would also need better support from it’s own network. Ugly Betty shifted schedules because of low ratings. However, the writing for the program has always moved forward with creativity. Still, in the spring of 2009 Ugly Betty was placed on the Friday night schedule. Something Pastorizo called a dead night for television.
Surprisingly, and maybe shockingly for ABC, show followers asked to bring Betty back to the Wednesday night line-up. The network moved the show this December, as it announced it would go into its last season, but no major promotion has been done to bid the show adieu.
"It’s so sad that a show that started off with such a bang and won a Golden Globe its first season went down, not in production value but in interest from ABC. The network didn’t promote it and even for the finale there’s been no promotion either, it’s been very anti-climatic compared to promotion for "Lost" for example. I think that the only reason ABC kept it running was to hit the 100 episode mark and get it in syndication," Pastorizo added.
As far as the season finale goes, Pastorizo was mum about rumors or expectations. Only saying that this season was by far the best. Since writers knew the finale was coming they had time to prepare and leave no loose strings behind. So, viewers will have to wait until tomorrow to see where Betty ends up; and wait until another show brings the next Latin sensation.