I think we're at our best by the flicker by the light of the TV set.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tears, Cheers for Betty

Three years ago I spent Thanksgiving alone. I was living in Manhattan and working a treacherous job at a news station which required me to arrive for work at 2:30am and never sleep. It was also mandatory that I work every and all holidays. The news never stops, people. Since I was living over two hours away from home, this meant I was unable to sneak to mom and dad's for turkey after my shift.
With no family nearby and any neighborhood friends at home with their loved ones, I was all alone in my apartment in the city - exhausted, lonely, bored. I heated up a can of Spaghettios (the Disney Princess ones are my fave), made myself comfy in front of my computer monitor and downloaded a few recent episodes of Ugly Betty. (Working at 2:30am makes staying caught up on TV shows nearly impossible). What better way to cure my loneliness than by sharing Thanksgiving with the Suarez family? They comforted me, made me laugh and erased my self pity. Not every television family has such an affect on its viewers. It takes an outstanding cast with a smart script and characters who feel like your best friends. I ate my Spaghettios, smiled and fell asleep happy (until I had to wake up at the ass crack of dawn to head back to work - but that's besides the point).
Today is a sad day. Today I am reminiscing. Last night was the series finale of this dear show. Ugly Betty is no more. Our heroine moved across the sea to London, Hilda & Co. are off to an apartment in the city, Justin is fabulously gay and out, Daniel resigned as Editor in Chief, Wilhelmina and Claire are getting along and Marc and Amanda are as endearing as ever - Marc finding love and Mandy reuniting with her long lost Tweety Bird-tatted daddy.
I cried my eyes out as I unwillingly said goodbye to all of the above. There is a hole in my heart, a void that was once filled with bright colors, MODE magazine and a loving Mexican family. It will surely take time to get over this loss. If only more of America recognized the brilliance of this series. ABC, you've broken my heart.
Overall, the ending was superb. Mysteries were solved, enemies reconciled, loved ones returned. New York Magazine summed the episode up best:

"After four seasons of struggles, breakups, murders, kidnappings, extortion attempts, and fashion emergencies, the cast of Ugly Betty damn well earned a happy ending — and that's exactly what creator Silvio Horta gave them last night on the series finale. The show has been praised throughout its run for its exploration of gay, immigration, and class issues through a Latino lens, but the last episode got a bit more granular. It was about courage, self-determination, and, above all, happiness. The episode was titled "Hello Goodbye," but it could have been named after perhaps the most iconic Beatles sentiment: "All You Need Is Love."
In the end, Betty didn't end up with Henry, as I had hoped (see earlier post), but I was actually glad. Last week's episode made me realize there was no place for Henry in her life. As she realized (with Daniel's assistance), Henry was bringing her down. She was going in reverse, as opposed to moving on. Makes me question things in my life... which is exactly why I love Betty Suarez so dearly. I might not be short and frumpy with a full set of braces and glasses and a Guadalajara poncho, but gosh darnit, I've never related to a fictional character more. We're the same age, both attempting to figure out what we want from life and working hard to achieve our dreams. If only more people had the strength of Betty - her strive, her kindness, her heart. No one's heart is as big as Betty's.
(*NOTE: The show might not have always been relatable. For instance, Daniel's brother did wake up from a coma as his sister and Wilhelmina did steal sperm from a dead man. I digress...*) 
A self proclaimed lover and borderline TV addict, I get attached to plenty of shows. Few, however, have such an impact on my life. I vividly remember the finale of Full House and Boy Meets World. (TGIF was literally my most favorite thing growing up and Corey Matthews was a HUGE part of my adolescent life). The last time a series finale made me sob as hard took place two years ago when THE O.C. ended. The final montage showing Julie Cooper graduating college, Seth and Summer tying the knot, and Ryan saying goodbye to the Cohen's house with a vision of Marissa standing at the end of the driveway where the two first met in that magical first epsiode killed me. I bawled crocodile tears.
Thing is, while I loved the Tanners, Cory and Topanga, the Cohens and the Coopers, I never felt the connection like I do with Betty. I will forever remember her and the impact she has on my life will remain strong through many years to come. Go ahead and laugh at me, but I'm not kidding. I will look to her when I need advice, when I need to remain strong, when I need a friend. I will miss her always.
My favorite part of last night's episode was the very end. After Betty had moved to London for a new job developing a brand new magazine and after she bumped into Daniel (who maybe is totally in love with her - which I support 100%), the show closed with "UGLY BETTY" appearing on screen. Then the UGLY faded and we were left with BETTY in bright red letters over a London background. Yes, BETTY. No need for the UGLY because she is actually the most beautiful person ever - inside and out. Viewers recognize it. Betty's fellow coworkers, friends and family recognize it. I'm glad the show decided to remind us of this in its final moment. That's when the tears really started to fall.
Long live, Betty.

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