A major television event occurred last night on Ugly Betty. Two teenage boys sharing their first sweet kiss! Too bad America stopped watching the show years ago. Then again, if people were watching, they wouldn’t have done it.
Ugly Betty began on a high note. An American remake of the groundbreaking, and oft-copied, Columbian telenovela, Yo Soy Betty La Fea (I am Betty, The Ugly One) — the show focused on an aesthetically-challenged Latina from Queens making good at a snooty Manhattan fashion magazine. It featured “Dame” Judith Light a veteran of American soaps and made-for-TV movies who always manages to make the make the most ridiculous situations totally real. But its combination of sit-com and soap never really jelled. Both the comedy and the outrageousness of the drama distanced the viewers from the characters. Betty’s deranged-child wardrobe and the character’s lack of growth didn’t help.
But last night, I happened to catch the episode and while I started out only half watching, I could see something was brewing. The storyline we’ve all been waiting for is finally unfolding in the final episodes, Betty’s fabulous, nephew, fourteen year old, Justin — an acting, dancing, fashionista is coming to terms with his sexuality. We’ve seen Justin as the target of bullies. We’ve seen his mother’s pride, love and acceptance of her son for who he is. We’ve seen Justin reach out and develop an appropriate friendship with Mark, Betty’s gay coworker. Last night’s show went further.
Justin who has lately been insisting that he’s not actually gay, became friends with a boy and a girl in his acting class. The boy shared many of Justin’s interests and obsessions. Justin claimed to “like” the girl and had the opportunity to kiss her in a scene onstage. After the show, he was going to talk to her when he saw her kissing the other boy. Later the two boys confront each other. The other one admits he didn’t really like her and did it because Justin had on stage. Soon what we thought would happen, happens and the boys kiss each other.
Justin goes home upset by this, but overhears his mother telling his Aunt Betty that self-acceptance and knowing you are loved and lovable for who you are is the most important thing. The next day he braves his acting class, only to find that the boy he kissed has quit.
Could we have another season, please?