To L with it, let’s get Ugly


by Dorothy Snarker

Yes, The L Word is done for the year. Wait, please stop crying (though, quick clarification, are those tears of sadness or joy? Oh, never mind). Yes, I know Battlestar Galactica had its season finale last night, too. Hey now, no tears again — pull yourself together. Get some tissues and relax. There are still good shows out there for us gay gals to pour our unrequited affection on.

One I can recommend most highly is my gal Ugly Betty. If you haven’t seen it, don’t let the show’s “hot new thing” label scare you away. Here is one instance where you can believe the hype, and then some. Now, I’ve noticed the series hasn’t gotten much ink here at AfterEllen (can you still call it ink if it’s virtual? Oh, never mind — again). At first glance, the omission makes sense. ABC’s breakout freshman comedy has no lesbian characters — yet. By my conservative count, so far this season we have one gay, one future-gay and one transgender character. Still, if you dig deeper, there is plenty for us to enjoy and celebrate, too.

Now, I could go on for pages and pages about my love for all things Bettylicious. The show effortlessly blends camp with compassion, silly with sublime. But since I don’t want to be responsible for anyone’s carpal tunnel, I’ll restrict my gushing to four basic categories.

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1. America: No, I haven’t gone all patriotic. I mean series star America Ferrera, the show’s heart and conscience. If you can think of a more positive role model for young girls on primetime television today, tell me now. The 22-year-old actress embodies something almost unheard of in female leads: A real woman (curves and all) whose self-worth isn’t based on her dress size or love life, but her professional abilities and personal morality. Plus, no one pratfalls like that girl.

2. The Diversity: Betty’s cast is beautiful like a rainbow, not only in race and size, but also in class, education and age. Plus, few other current shows more deftly handle gay issues without resorting to heavy-handed preaching, school-diversity seminars (seriously, Paige and Shane, was that necessary?) and afterthought tokenism. The juxtaposition of transgender character Alexis’ unwelcome homecoming contrasted with gay-in-training Justin’s complete acceptance was inspired, not to mention deeply touching.

3) The One-Liners: Lord, this show makes me giggle. Not an episode goes by where I don’t get a good belly laugh or, better yet, a killer quote I must commit to memory for future use. Most come courtesy the withering wit of Wilhelmina Slater: “Did you just motion at me when you said Kwanza?” “That’s absolutely the cruelest thing I’ve ever seen. Someone’s getting a raise.” “You’re my seeing-eye gay.” What, me, like snarky things? Never.

4. Duh, The Ladies: Oh, the pretty. Joining America are series regulars Vanessa Williams, Rebecca Romijn, Ana Ortiz, Becki Newton, Ashley Jensen and Judith Light. Then there are the tasty guest side dishes like Salma Hayek, Gina Gershon, Lucy Liu and Katharine McPhee. Like I said, duh.

Now, I realize for you fans of The Office, this time slot presents a comedy conflict. But simply watch Betty while Tivo-ing Office, and then watch Office while you’re waiting for 30 Rock. Or watch Betty online for free the next day. What can I say? I’m a problem solver.

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