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October 22, 2014

Ugly Betty: Don't Ask, Don't Tell

by Julia Ward, posted Mar 23rd 2007 2:02AM
Ugly Betty Don't Ask Don't Tell
(S01E18)
I would have written this review sooner, but I couldn't stop crying like a big baby. Not every storyline was a home run this week, but the most important one was. It could have gotten all "Lifetime Original," but it didn't. This show is many things - funny, moving, campy - but it is never saccharine.

This week we got utterly hilarious Joan Crawford camp and utterly heartbreaking Tony Kushner pathos. We also got some superfluous storylines and directionless characters, but more on that later. It broke my heart to see Marc shut out by his mother, ironically played by the always excellent Patti LuPone, a woman whose entire career rests on the shoulders of theater queens everywhere.

The "Betty posing as Marc's girlfriend" storyline gave us so many great moments - an Amanda/Marc cat fight ("Laugh, clown, laugh."); Marc back at the Suarez's ("So, this is where the tragic happens."); Justin and Marc bonding ("Dreamgirls was a cinematic achievement."); Miss Lady Buttons of Camelot; a Henry mooning over Betty aside; a Patti LuPone guest turn; and, of course, a genuinely touching performance from the uber-talented Michael Urie. I have a feeling that he'll be receiving fan mail from more than one young gay man or woman coming out to less than accepting parents. And, through it all, he remains "fabulous." God bless us, every swishy one.

I was far less impressed with the direction of two other characters this week - Ignacio and Alexis. Thank you, Ugly Betty, for dramatizing the immigration process. It's been real, but let's ditch the ankle bracelet. It's worth a couple of jokes, but that's it. Give Ignacio a real love interest, some buddies, a freaking hobby. Stop saddling him with heart medication and case workers.

And, what is the deal with Alexis? When she was the "mystery woman," we were set up to think she was the big bad. Then, she was softened - a misunderstood transsexual who never felt at home in her own body and was alienated from her family. Last week, she seemed like she was on the same page with Daniel. This week, she was competitive and strange all over again. Maybe, if I were a guy with a really competitive brother, I would get this. As it is, I don't understand Alexis' motivations. Yes, she wants to humiliate her dad, but when it comes to Daniel, her competitiveness reads as juvenile sibling rivalry. Is she supposed to be bad? Misunderstood? Are we supposed to sympathetize with her? She shows up on the scene, and suddenly Daniel's a victim who needs Betty to stroke his tender ego? What the heck is going on? I know that plenty of people have the tendency to regress when they get around their parents, but this is getting a tiny bit ridiculous. Doesn't Alexis have any other kind of goal in life? With all her wealth, she has nothing better to do than torture her father and redecorate the Mode offices? Take a lesson from Betty and Marc. Sometimes the people in your family aren't the ones who love you the most, and if they don't, that's their loss.

Other things going on this week: Wilhelmina got badder; Claire dried out; and the pilgrim buckle came back in.

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spav

hiyer
yes i think marc is very gorgeous!
if he is gay in real life-tell him he's mine!
if your reading this marc (or any other gay person is) did u ever get picked on when you where at school for been gay?(if you are)i did
is it because people cant accept change?
anyway one last thing
I LOVE YOUR SHINY SHOES AND PIN STRIPED TROUSERS! THEY ARE TOTALLY GAY AND I LOVE THEM!
love you for life marc
bye bye

June 18 2007 at 1:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
spav

hiyer
is it just me, or does anyone else think marc is absoulutly gorgeous?he is really really sweet and the episode where his mum rejected him was totally heart-breaking for us to watch. If he's straight in real life, he can play a stereo-typical gay bloke very well( oh yeah and if he is straight-maybe pas my number on to him!lol!)a big congratulations to every one at ugly betty, the series has been fantastic9 especially marc though cos he's fit!)
i really hope you are amking another series because the first one was a huge sucess! i am missing the show already and it's only been three weeks since it ended in england!
xx-bi bi-xx please reply soon!

June 18 2007 at 12:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
aj

I hate that abc does this. The next episode of ugly betty is an old episode. Would they just stop with this and let us watch it in peace. You never know when they are going to show a new episode. That sucks!!! Can't we do anything about it?

March 26 2007 at 7:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Allan

Thank you Julia Ward for a superb review; couldn't agree with you more. This episode's nightmare dinner scene was a farcical set-piece equal to the best ever managed by "Frazier", and the skill with which the writers seamlessly moved from high comedy to touching drama (in a matter of seconds!) was a delight to behold.

This series gets better in leaps and bounds every week, developing characters (Wilhemina, Marc, Betty, Amanda) who are quickly emerging as 21st Century television icons.

One prediction: expect to see lots of Wilheminas this Hollowe'en, most of whom will be sporting five o'clock shadows and, of course, Pilgrim buckles.

March 23 2007 at 6:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Allan

Great news about the Pilgrim buckle.

March 23 2007 at 6:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
TomB

What a great episode. I loved the Marc storyline. His last name is Weiner? lol

I also think the Ignacio storyline is ridiculous. It started out as a great story about the realities of illegal immigration, but now is just a dumb joke. The immigration worker character is ridiculous.

March 23 2007 at 1:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Babs

I totally agree with your assessment of the plot lines of this episode. Other priceless moments: the verbal volley between Marc and Amanda when he "broke up" with her; Marc to Wilhemina: "I am totally going as you for Halloween," Justin: "Chicken McNuggets are 15 points, and it's almost bathing suit season!"
This is one of the best written shows, with some of the best-realized characters, ever to grace the TV screen.

That said, oy to the Ingnacio story line. Just, ugh. Enough.

And what IS with Alexis? We missed last week's episode, and the TiVo didn't record it, so last night I was all "Wuh?" She went from gender confused to just plain confused. The writers need to figure her out, stat.

March 23 2007 at 11:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael

I suppose that one could always blame Alexis' odd character swings on hormones? Certainly the average woman deals with them enough. Can you imagine how difficult it must be for Alex to have to adjust to all the hormonal upsets he deals with now that he is a she? Just a thought...

Oh, and other than that, this show is just superb. I always love how dishy Wilhemina gets and Marc & Amanda just slay me. Absolutely two of the BEST (and well written) supporting characters on television today. I'm glad to see them get screen time each and every time they are on. Having a Marc centric episode was great too. Now we need another Amanda one!

http://www.myspace.com/scoobarama

March 23 2007 at 10:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
slutty_whore

Julia, you don't understand the concept of sibling rivalry? Are you nuts? The crux of the Alexis/Daniel feud is that Daniel doesn't feel he measures up to his brother and Alexis does her damndest to continue to make him feel inferior. The more Daniel can be made to feel inferior, the more he questions his ability to run Mode. If he questions himself enough, he will do a horrible job running the magazine, thus, Alexis will take over and embarrass her father. Duh!

March 23 2007 at 9:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ryan

I would say it's the heels Kiki, but then their running scene she wasn't wearing heels.

Oh the things I pay attention to. But seriously great episode in terms of the Marc plot. Definitely agree on the aimlessness of Alexis' character. I'm okay with Ignacio's stuff since at least it's not a character thing and more a plot device type of thing.

March 23 2007 at 9:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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