Salma + Betty = Great TV

 
 

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Have you seen Ugly Betty? If you’re a woman, the odds are much higher that you have. And that you liked it. The Los Angeles Times reports that the show’s 14 million viewers are “mostly women of diverse ethnic backgrounds and ages” whose collective power have made the show a surprise hit. According to Nielsen Media Research, the viewer demographic for the show is 10.5% African American, 9.25% Latino, and 42% 18 to 49 years of age—with a whopping 72% female audience

The U.S. version of the show, inspired by popular Colombian telenovela Yo Soy Betty, la Fea centers around young Latina Betty Suarez (America Ferrera), who lives in Queens with her father, sister and nephew and works as an assistant to the editor of Mode magazine. Her smart, down-to-earth sensibility puts her at odds with the superficial fashion world, but each week she manages a victory of some sort and brings new heart to the cutthroat editorial world.

Not only does it appeal to a demographic that typically remains uncourted by the networks, it also matter-of-factly addresses the usually taboo (on TV) intersections of race, class, sexuality, and gender.

Salon.com says of the show, “Ugly Betty is not about being unattractive, or at least not simply about being unattractive. It’s about class. And ethnicity. Its smart take on cultural and economic differences, enmeshed as it is in a fresh, funny package, makes it positively subversive television.”

And if that weren’t reason enough to love it, consider the fact that the show includes the positive portrayal of a young boy (Betty’s nephew) who is clearly coded as gay. He’s a flamboyant little queen in the making who already knows more about fashion that Betty and he’s only 12. And the fact that he is adored by his family—not kicked around, ridiculed or sent away for reparative “therapy”—is transgressive indeed.

Of course none of this should come as much of a surprise when you consider the fact that outspoken Latina feminist Salma Hayek is the executive producer of the show. What else would we expect from the woman who brought us Frida?

Ugly Betty airs Thursdays at 8 pm on ABC. Check it out tonight!