Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Betty La Fea (Ugly Betty) Mas Bella Update XV

Okay, the deed is done. Boy has met girl, boy has gotten girl (really gotten girl), . . . . So let's look at who is really important here.


Both the original "Betty La Fea" and its remake "La Fea Mas Bella" have developed one of the better characters in television, the feckless (but becoming feckful) hero's fiance--Marcela in "Betty" and Marcia in "La Fea." Blessed in both cases with excellent actresses doing fine jobs (Natalia Ramirez in "Betty" and Elizabeth Alvarez in "La Fea"), the story takes someone who could have been the stereotype rich bitch fiance and makes her someone you genuinely feel sorry for as the first of two betrayals comes forth. Marcela/Marcia is an accomplished and confident woman who clearly believes in the importance of female independence and achievement (witness the advice given Lola). Yet, when it comes to Armando/Fernando, she ended up as smitten and helpless as Betty/Lety herself. It's much more nuanced than the hero deserves, and you wonder how either of them could fall for this guy so badly. Okay, Marcia has apparently loved him since they were kids, and Lety worships him for defending and supporting her despite her fea-ness. But still . . . .

You also wonder how the US version will deal with it, not being known for much nuance in its melodramas. Well, it sounds like we don't have to worry. Why not? Because it doesn't sound like that plotline will be there. According to advance synopses, the hero in the ABC show will be such a known hound dog that his father hires "Ugly Betty" because she's ugly and won't attract him. That's 180 away from the original. That tension between fecklessness and hound dog-ism and living up to his father's ideal of him is what drives Armando/Fernando into the wrecklessness that powers the entire plot. Maybe they'll get at that in some other way in "Ugly Betty," but they've already jettisoned a perfectly good theme. And, in doing so, it sounds like they've jettisoned the Marcela/Marcia equivalent, as well as the chance for bringing that wonderful character to a broader audience. Just like they've jettisoned Betty's/Lety's mother to give us that tired old "aging father/loyal daughter" plotline. I know I predicted they'd have to cut a lot to fit it into American formats, but does anyone know exactly what they're keeping?

In the meantime, enjoy Elizabeth Alvarez's performance as Marcia. She has even better coming up, and now I'm sure she will be up to it, if they follow true to "Betty," which they've done much better than it sounds like others I could mention.