This summer, I'm looking back at the most recent seasons of some of my favorite shows and posing a few hypothetical questions about their future in this feature, Five Questions. Today's questions are for "Ugly Betty," which will start its second season in the fall.
- What about those cliffhangers, huh? "Ugly Betty" had one of the most packed season finales around, and almost all the developments were bad, sad things: the possible deaths of several characters, Charlie's deception of Henry, Claire escaping, etc. It was a pretty dark episode, very well-done but more dramatic than anything we've seen from "Ugly Betty," and I'm curious to see what the writers will come up with to get us out of such a seemingly tragic situation.
- Can the show maintain its tone? "Ugly Betty" made its mark by blending over-the-top campy elements, great physical and verbal humor, and occasional heavy drama. Hmm, sounds like how I used to describe "Desperate Housewives." And yet that show took a serious turn for the worse in its second season when it introduced characters and story lines that didn't fit the show's established tone. How will "Ugly Betty" avoid that pitfall?
- Can the show get new viewers? Like almost every show, "Ugly Betty" took a serious plunge in the ratings when it returned from hiatus in the spring. The show benefited in its first season from being the lead-in to "Grey's Anatomy," but "Grey's" has turned off enough viewers that it might not be the draw it once was. Even at its worst, "Betty" still did better than most first-season shows, but I wonder if its audience can grow.
- Will the Fey Sommers mystery be solved? The off-again, on-again centerpiece of the show was the question of who killed Mode's former editrix-in-chief. I often grew tired of the plot line and worried it wasn't going anywhere, but every time I'd start rolling my eyes at the mention of Fey's name, the writers came up with some new twist to draw me back in — most recently the suggestion that Fey could be Amanda's mother. Still, this strikes me as another thing the show has in common with "Desperate Housewives," which couldn't keep a mystery going beyond its first season. Does the show have enough going for it at this point to let that story drop?
- Will Betty ever change? I keep waiting for the episode when Betty gets her braces off, cuts her hair, dresses well and makes a splash at Mode — a transformation that would be inevitable if "Ugly Betty" were a movie. Of course, that's against the whole framework the show has set up so far, and the writers seem pretty committed to keeping Betty as a plain, brace-faced underdog. Still, I wonder if they'll ever be tempted to make Betty just a little prettier, or a little less dorky, or a little more mainstream, just to see what happens.
Three more questions, so
Photo copyright 2007 ABC, Inc.