Wednesday, April 14, 2010

'Ugly Betty': Why it mattered

Entertainment Weekly's Tanner Stransky has a very touching post about why Ugly Betty mattered to him as a gay man. It's a good read. Below is an excerpt. (I will miss the show, too!)

Tanner Stransky writes:
It is with a heavy heart that I will sit down to watch my last hour of the seminal television show Ugly Betty tonight. Say whatever you will about the quality of the show over the past couple seasons — it may have hit some rough patches creatively — but you can’t deny that Ugly Betty was one of the most beautiful, provoking, delightful dramedies to hit network television in the past decade. Here, in one of my last Ugly Betty posts ever on PopWatch, indulge me as I take a minute to celebrate why the Mode universe that I, and many of you, so deliciously relished over the past four years truly did matter.

On a very personal note, Ugly Betty affected my life in several important ways. I remember watching the pilot back in May 2006, when I worked at a different TV magazine just before landing at Entertainment Weekly. I was mesmerized.

Somehow, with just the right amount of wit and grandeur, the Betty creators had managed to put a go-get-’em face — through one very beautiful, but supposedly “ugly,” girl played by America Ferrera — on my own experience navigating the treacherous waters of the New York City publishing scene. In a way, ugly duckling Betty was a Mary Tyler Moore for a younger generation.

But the show’s huge imprint on my personal life — and again, I’m sure the personal lives of lots of other people like me — is almost more indelible than all that. Some may think I’m getting too personal here (though I don’t really care because I don’t have secrets), but during the time the show was on, I came out as a gay man. Partly because it was high time. But also partly because I felt comfortable with myself after watching the silly, yet steeped-in-reality portrayals of gay people on Ugly Betty.

I felt alive after watching hours of a television show where being yourself was not only what people did, but celebrated heartily. Marc, and eventually Justin and a slew of the other characters, did not apologize for who they were. They were proud. So why shouldn’t I be? (And, truly, how can one blog about, write a book about, and obsess about such a gay show and, you know, not actually be gay?) READ MORE