In 2006, ABC aired one of the first primetime, major network-helmed television that went against many industry odds: it featured a primarily Latino cast, several gay characters, outed issues of prejudice in corporate America and, perhaps most defining, had a leading lady with a BMI higher than 18.5. Over the past four years the show, Ugly Betty, has become a staple in contemporary television. It saw a move from a Los Angeles sound stage to the real New York City streets, won numerous Emmys, and also brought its star, America Ferrera, national fame and recognition. This year marked Betty’s final season, but its legacy will not be forgotten – for all the innovations, as well as the fact that international Betty versions are scheduled to air in the coming seasons.
We watched as the ever-optimistic journalism hopeful went from outer borough to inner, novice to professional, and finally girl to woman. Ms. Suarez’s sound morals, virtue, and reason helped fix fashion conglomerate Mode Magazine’s many dysfunctions and nurture the publication’s monarchs, the Meade family, through every aristocratic pitfall. By the last season, we see Betty’s biggest evolution—she ditches her old, less chic wardrobe for a more mature, stylish closet of Chanel suits and patent leather pumps. She finally makes some headway career-wise, and so do her colleagues. All seems to be right in the world of soap opera-esque sitcom, and we think: if one of our favorite shows has to end, at least it’s going in the most deliciously satisfying, characteristically feel-good way possible. Or at least that was what I was thinking.
If you’re still mourning the loss of colorful bubble furniture and Guadalajara ponchos, never fear. The season four DVD was released this summer, a quad set of vibrant discs full of both episodes and bonus features galore. Deleted Scenes are the major stars amongst the pack – watch a rare moment between Hilda’s boyfriend-cum-husband Bobby and Mode’s hilariously snippy assistant extraordinaire Mark St. James. Witness excluded foreshadowing of Daniel’s cult downfall when Natalie (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) admits to naivite. Every CD comes with a crop of extra peeks into the Mode world, a bonus that fans are sure to be grateful for.
Upon arriving at the third disc, however, viewers will discover a different set of unaired drama. Avid Betty devotees will recognize these from ABC’s website: Mode After Hours, a collection of webisodes starring the eternally entertaining underling duo, Mark and Amanda. Funny, inspired, and energetic, Mode After Hours shoots from a security camera in the Mode office, spying on the best friends as they gallivant around the empty premises. Think wars and strip teases for the security patrol, skits impersonating officemates, and many a fashion show. A taste: (Amanda) Me, a stylist? Oh my God Mark, do you think I could be like Rachel Zoe? (Mark) Please, Mandy, bigger! You’re way more of a trainwreck than she is. (Amanda) Oh, Mark, you always know what to say!
After you watch the tear jerker finale, switch on the behind the scenes footage of the cast’s trip to the Caribbean in Betty Goes to the Bahamas. Mark and Amanda em-cee in a scripted mad goose chase around the island for their co-stars. Meanwhile, watch Judith Light (who plays Claire Meade) and Vanessa Williams dine at Nobu and learn to make sushi. Glipse the manly Mode men getting spa treatment—facials, pedicures, the works! And be the only one to know exactly where America Ferrera (Betty Suarez) is, hiding behind big sunglasses and reading magazines in the sun while the rest of the cast struggles to find her. When you’re done with that, treat yourself to the original Bonus Feature, the Bloopers. To sum up Betty on-set goofs, I’ll say this: have you ever wondered how on earth these women can walk around in six-inch stilettos? Well, apparently they can’t.
In all, the Ugly Betty season four DVDs are much like the show – lots of fun, aesthetically pleasing, cheery and ultra up-beat, but at the same time refreshingly honest and real. As a former Betty follower myself, I highly recommend a trip to the video store, bookstore, Amazon, Netflix, what have you, as the set proves a sweet afterthought to the show. It’s like looking through pictures of good times past: nostalgic, reminiscent, but also comforting.