Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ugly Betty - I get it

I finally got why I enjoy Ugly Betty. The show is full of outrageous moments - people returning from the dead (or did they), people finding out they are so-and-so's daughter, relationships broken up by someone claiming they are pregnant when they aren't -

It's all over the top, but I couldn't figure out why it worked for me. If this was a daytime soap opera, I'd be retching into the nearest potted plant.

And today, I figured it out. It goes back to an idea in computer graphics where when something reaches near human looks, it becomes really creepy looking. And that's what makes Ugly Betty work:

It's not human.

In other words, they have their characters doing outrageous things in a humorous fashion. They play with the ideas of what a soap opera should be. For example, making us think that someone was back from the dead - when it was actually the sex changed elder brother now turned into a hot woman there to take over the company.

What? No, this doesn't exist in the real world, and it's so over the top and most of the time it doesn't take itself seriously - so when it *does* do something serious, you don't think "Oh, come on!" You think "Holy crap - That man is going to be killed unless he makes a perfect flan!"

Yes, that was a plot point. No, I'm serious. Really.

Of course, the fact that they always seem to be going one direction and then zag outside your expectations certainly helps the most. But I think it's that "create a separate reality of overblown craziness so anything that happens doesn't seem crazy" that helps.

I wonder if the writers do it on purpose, or if it's just a happy accident?

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