Friday, February 13, 2009

Love, or el amor, depending


Ever since I saw my first episode, I have been hooked on Ugly Betty. I love stories about underdogs, people who have so much to offer but who are not given the chance to reach their potential because of societal barriers or other roadblocks. Because I didn't see the very first episodes of Ugly Betty, I am not sure how they set up the story and character of Betty. I have always thought I should probably go back and watch those first episodes, just to see if there is anything important I missed.

Recently I was setting up my new DVR in Chicago, and I stumbled upon "Betty la fea", the original Colombian series which inspired Selma Hayek to produce the US incarnation. I was also fortunate enough to land on the very first episode! I guess I got what I asked for, slightly modified. As a side note, I find it fascinating that both Ugly Bettys are absolutely beautiful in real life. There is already meaning in that alone I think. Anyway, after watching the show all week, I am absolutely hooked on THIS one too. In fact, Thursday night I watched Ugly Betty, and then (even though I had many other programs on my DVR) I went right on to Betty la fea. Not only is it a MARVELOUS way for me to keep up with my spanish, its also just really good. Of course these tele-novelas are very dramatic. Whenever you land on them you kind of shudder at the over the top acting. However, I am starting to see it now more like a genre of its own, and I think the good novelas, though emotions are severely heightened, have a lot of heart as well as relevance. In the US version, Betty is VERY committed to her boss, Daniel. I have never fully understood why she is always seeming to bend over backwards to get him out of all the awkward situations he gets himself into, especially considering he never seems to fully appreciate her help. In tonight's episode of "la fea", after saving her boss from a scandal and earning his trust, Betty is stood up by some neighborhood boys who asked her out as a joke. Broken-hearted, she writes in her journal, "De nuevo la vida me dice que el amor no es para mi, que es un sentimiento que tengo que enterrar. Nadie me va a dar la oportunidad de demostrar cuanto puedo amar. El motor de mi vida tiene que ser el trabajo. Es lo unico que me puede salvar. Y trabajar para el. Ser su sombra y su aliento. Ese es el motivo de vivir." (Once again life has shown that love is not for me, that love is a feeling I ought to bury. No one will give me the opportunity to show how much I love I have inside. The driving force of my life must now be work. That's the only thing that can save me.. and working for him (Daniel her boss). I'll be his refuge and his comfort. This is my life's purpose now.)

I was almost taken back by how suddenly invested I felt in this character. What started as a spanish lesson had turned into something more significant. Ok, I admit it. I cried while watching a spanish tele-novela. There I said it. It just makes me sad to feel that there are people out there who think that because they do not look a certain way, that they can't have love. I want to challenge that idea. I don't think that work or some other obsession can or should take the place of love. There are so many places in this world where we can find love, and we need to search for that love in order to thrive as human beings. In the times when we are not in a place to share romantic love, we can partake of other kinds of love-- love to family members, friends, even strangers. Sometimes actually getting the love is not as important as that search for greater love, outside of ourselves, and of course within as well. "Love's a fake, love's a fable.. just a painting on a ceiling, just a children's fairy tale-- STILL YOU HAVE TO LOOK AND LOOK AND LOOK AND LOOK..." (the Light in the Piazza) For when you look, you find. That's how it is.

I am excited to see Betty la fea take her journey toward love. She is just starting to discover it; to see what a risk it is to try, and why we should never give up on it. EVER.

6 comments:

Matt said...

Well, I don't speak Espanol, but I do love me some Ugly Betty. And you better get the first two seasons in your Netflix Queue. Season 1 especially. It's the best season thus far.

Ophidimancer said...

There was a little bit of a commotion when La Fea Mas Bella (the Mexican version) ended with an Ugly Duckling become Beautiful Swan type of ending, because people who liked the fact that a main character didn't have conventional good looks were upset that she had to have a drastic makeover to finally have a happy ending.

CLARK JOHNSEN said...

Matt-- DONE. I think I'll just buy the first season on itunes and just work my way through it. I'm so glad you are into this show. Ophid-- I read that that happens in betty la fea as well! I wonder if they are going to do that in the US version? What do you think?

Ophidimancer said...

I dunno, but I hope they do give it an ending that is unconventional. I don't watch tv, though, so I don't really have an opinion.

Knowing American television, they're going to make last much longer than the telenovelas, past the point which most people will care about the show and then the ending won't matter anymore. ;)

Jen said...

I'm all about Ugly Betty! She rocks! However, I feel bad for her at times. I want to take her shopping, to a dentist, to get a make-up counter, etc. I wish that they would let her get less ugly over the seasons. Almost every goes through a phase where they learn to blossom on the outside (and to dress better if nothing else).

karisadarling said...

Hi Clark!

I love the blog, but dont you know that I am on bed rest and I am counting on you to update this every day?