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Ugly Betty (2006–2010) is an ABC Dramedy and an Americanized version of the Colombian Soap Opera Yo soy Betty, la fea, which already had dozens of versions around the world.
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Betty Suarez (America Ferrera) is a sweet but dowdy young woman from Queens, who hopes to one day run her own magazine. Despite her lack of experience, and her appalling fashion sense, Betty ends up hired at the high-end fashion magazine MODE, as the personal assistant to the editor-in-chief Daniel Meade (Eric Mabius). However, it's quickly revealed that Betty was only hired for her lack of sex appeal, so the infamous womanizer Daniel wouldn't be tempted to sleep with her. Unable to fire Betty, Daniel instead tries to humiliate her so that she'll quit on her own terms, leaving him free to hire a personal assistant of his own choosing.

Daniel realizes he's gone too far when a devastated Betty does quit, especially on realizing how hard she worked during her short time with him, and ends up begging for her to return. Betty accepts, and the two form a close working relationship, and eventual friendship.

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Ugly Betty differs greatly from Yo soy Betty, la fea in that the show doesn't revolve around Betty pining after her boss and ultimately winning his love after much Will They or Won't They? drama. Instead Betty ends up entangled in the office politics involving the entire Meade family, along with facing off against Wilhelmina Slater (Vanessa Williams), who intends on taking over MODE magazine, no matter what it takes. Along the way, Betty learns to stand up against those who judge her for her dowdy looks, and how to balance her career with her family, to whom she is incredibly close to.

More importantly, Betty learns how to be proud of who she is, and it shows in that her string of lovers end up dating her because they love that she's so true to herself.

The show splits its time between Slapstick, fashion industry satire, occasional Deadpan Snarking, Soap Opera plots (kinda-sorta parodied) and Anvilicious Aesops about self-esteem and whatever other issues the writers want to make points about.

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This show provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: The death of Fey Sommers, and subsequent hints that she is actually still alive. The Bandaged Woman, who was all but outright stated to be Sommers, was instead revealed to be Alexis Meade. From that point, Sommers is brought up just enough to remind us who she was. Ultimately, she never comes back, and it's left to the viewers whether or not she truly died.
  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: Daniel and Alexis agree to decide control of Meade Publications, a billion-dollar company, with a paintball game.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Beatriz "Betty" Aurora Pinzón Solano keeps her original first name (but not the surname) in this American remake of Yo soy Betty, la fea, being named Beatriz U. "Betty" Suarez.
  • Alternate Universe: The episode "Million Dollar Smile" (Season 4, Episode 17) has Betty hitting her head and imagining an alternative universe in which she never had braces, and was considered to be the pretty sister while Hilda was the homely one. See Dream Sequence.
  • Always Camp: Marc St. James and Betty's nephew Justin.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Justin Suarez for most of the story. Less so once he gets a boyfriend.
  • Animal Motifs:
    • Butterflies, symbolic of Betty's own metamorphoses.
    • Hilda tends to wear clothes with animal prints, which add to her Queens woman image.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: When Christina is implanted with an embryo, a nearby screen shows cells rapidly dividing. Mitosis, even in an embryo made of stem cells, usually takes hours, and can't be easily seen within the body.
  • Author Avatar: Justin for creator Silvio Horta.
  • Awkwardly Placed Bathtub: In "When Betty Met YETI", Amanda moves in with Betty, and Betty soon finds Amanda taking a bubble bath while the bathtub is in the middle of the kitchen. It doesn't stay there for long.
  • Back for the Finale: Ugly Betty starts this early, with Gio and Christina coming back in the third to last episode, Henry in the penultimate ep, and Connor for the finale.
  • Bandaged Face: Some woman who, for the first half of season 1, is implied to be Fey Sommers (it's actually Alex Meade with a sex change. She changes her name to Alexis Meade).
  • Baseball Episode: One episode revolves around a softball game within Meade Publications.
  • Battle Butler: Marc is Wilhelmina's Battle Butler. Disposing of the Battle Butler when it's convenient was played with when Wilhelmina "traded" Marc for something she needed for her latest scheme, but later gave it up to get Marc back. Being a Card-Carrying Villain and all, Wilhelmina refused to admit that she did this because she missed Marc, but it was still played as a Pet the Dog moment.
  • The Beard: Amanda has played this role for Marc for years, but since she nags at him to get married her he "dumped" her, which makes Amanda pissed so she tells his mother Marc's new girlfriend is Betty, forcing both Betty and Marc to keep up the charade. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Best Woman: Bradford passes up his son Daniel as best man and instead asks his daughter Alexis to stand up with him.
  • Betty and Veronica:
    • Funnily enough, Betty is actually the Archie. In the first season, Betty is torn between her old boring boyfriend Walter (Betty) and sweet, charming Henry (a mild Veronica). In season 2, Henry undergoes a Betty and Veronica Switch to become the boring Betty to Gio's exciting Veronica.
    • A gay example, in "A League of Their Own": Marc St James meets Cliff who he clicks with but asks a nameless (very hunky but dumb) model out instead, before being confronted by Cliff who was trying to ask him out.
    • In season 4, Hilda is with her nice, normal, kinda boring boyfriend Archie, when her old flame Bobby comes back into her life.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: At one point, Henry loses his temper and shouts at Marc and Amanda...though afterward they both admit this actually turned them on.
  • Big Bad: The bandaged woman looked like this at the start of the show, but she gets revealed to be Alexis and has a Heel–Face Turn soon after and becomes Daniel's rival, leaving her previous The Dragon Wilhemina Slater as the main antagonist for the rest of the story.
  • Big Blackout: Season 4 episode Blackout revolves around this, having Betty, her co-workers and her neighbors trapped in their dilapidated apartment building during a karaoke party just hours after she had the landlord install an electric door; leading Amanda to believe that "Betty's voice (In the karaoke) brought darkness to the land".
    Betty: Amanda! Is that you?
    Amanda: Sorry, I thought that was my butt.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing:
    • Wilhemina Slater manages to pull this off more times than should be possible.
    • Charlie, Henry's ex-girlfriend, has quite a mean streak when trying to get Henry back, despite keeping a kind facade.
  • Brainless Beauty: Amanda and Hilda are variations as they're not so much The Ditz as Book Dumb.
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S":
    • Betty wears a necklace with a large capital B on it. This necklace is actually modelled after one worn in real life by Anne Boleyn.
    • In the episode "Smoking Hot", Amanda wears a long necklace with a huge letter A on it, mimicking Betty's tiny necklace, adding comedic effect to the fact that nobody can tell both girls are actually wearing the same outfit.
  • The Burlesque of Venus: One of Matt's paintings is of Betty as The Birth of Venus. It isn't seen in detail, though.
  • But Not Too Black: Wilhelmina Slater, averted with her daughter.
  • But Not Too Gay: Marc never got to kiss any of his love interests (and yet he did kiss both Betty and Amanda for comedic reasons.) However, they were able to show a ground breaking kiss between the 15-year-old Justin and Austin, since the show had already been canceled by that point so there wasn't much risk.
  • The Cameo:
  • Camp:
    • Justin
    • Suzuki St. Pierre acts camp for his on-screen persona, but is a fairly normal father and husband behind the scenes.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin':
    • Betty once ignored a call from her sister due to a work obligation. Naturally, this call was to tell her their father was in the hospital so everybody could guilt-trip Betty for putting her job ahead of her family (which she otherwise almost never does).
    • Happens again while Betty is struggling to balance being an intern at YETI and dealing with work problems, her family constantly nag at her for not helping with her sister's launch party for her salon. Betty always helps every other time, and even sends Christina in her place when she can't spare the time, but that still isn't good enough for them.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Wilhelmina and Marc often call their schemes "evil" with complete sincerity. At the Slater launch party, Marc actually toasted "To World Domination!"
  • Cast as a Mask: Rebecca Romijn as Alexis Meade from the beginning, but the character did not debut as such until halfway through the first season, and was played by Elizabeth Penn Payne until then. This was mostly done as a Red Herring, as the audience was initially meant to believe she was actually the recently deceased Fey Sommers.
  • Celebrity Paradox: No one mentions how much Kimmie looks like Lindsay Lohan, who was mentioned in an early episode.
  • Character Development: All the main players. Even the people who don't like Betty end up respecting her by the end of the series. Amanda is more-or-less the same self-centered, somewhat cruel ditz she was at the beginning, but she goes from despising Betty to having the biggest girlcrush imaginable on her.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A literal example in "A League of Their Own", where Claire takes a rifle off the wall of the house she and Yoga are staying at and almost shoots Wilhelmina with it.
  • The Chessmaster: Wilhelmina Slater. She always has an elaborate plan at hand to get back into Mode's good books, usually involving Marc and any number of her 'contacts'.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Practically everyone! It occasionally gets the point where you seriously begin to wonder if anyone in charge actually remembers that they're supposed to be running a million-dollar company!
  • Christmas Episode: "Fake Plastic Snow" (Season 1), "Giving Up the Ghost" (Season 2), "Be-Shure" (Season 4).
  • Church of Happyology: In Season 4, Daniel joins "The Community of the Phoenix," which recruits high-profile followers and has several similar parallels to Happyology. After allowing the Church to make decisions in his personal and professional life, he's saved by Betty just as he reaches Level 7.
  • Color Wash: When the Suarez family goes to Mexico, all the scenes there are given a yellow filter.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Amanda, upon seeing her picture on the "out" side of Wilhemina's "in or out" board, responds that the picture wasn't a very good one.
  • Coming-Out Story:
    • In "I'm Coming Out", Alexis reveals that not only is she alive, she's a transgender woman.
    • "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has Marc's mom Jean visiting him, who doesn't know he's gay and he has Betty pretend to be his girlfriend and they make dinner plans with Betty’s family. When she makes some scathing comments about Justin's Camp behaviour Marc gets defensive and confronts her by confessing.
    • In "Backseat Betty", Justin is voted homecoming queen and manages to laugh it off. His family acts as if he just came out, and Justin definitively states that he's not gay. No one believes it, but Marc respects his wishes. In, "The Past Presents the Future" he does come out.
    • Also subverted in "Fire and Nice." Twice, Marc assumes that Justin is about to come out to him and leads him in the right direction, but Justin doesn't act in the way expected.
  • Construction Catcalls: In the episode "Queens For A Day'', Betty gets a few appreciative whistles and looks when she walks past some construction workers after her Makeover Montage. Betty, who doesn't usually get guys' attention, is delighted.
  • Daddy DNA Test: Amanda attempts this on Bradford Meade when she suspects him of being her real father. He isn't. Daniel later does his own DNA test to determine if he's Daniel Jr.'s father. He isn't. Alexis is.
  • Dancing with Myself: In the episode Plus None Betty dances with herself to the song Dancing by Myself by Billy Idol in a crowded dance party while Matt looks on.
  • Dartboard of Hate: Christina takes out her anger at Wilhelmina over denying her access to William, who she's convinced is her own baby by throwing darts at a photo of her.
  • Daydream Surprise:
    • When Wilhelmina is privately meeting with Connor and he offers her a drink, she daydreams that he then starts kissing her, jolting back to reality when he asks why she's staring into space.
    • Happens twice in one scene when Betty imagines asking Bobby out, and then pushing him against a car and ripping open his shirt. Both times it's revealed to be a daydream and she asks him something much more tame.
  • Dead Person Conversation:
    • After Santos died in the first season finale, it was kept ambiguous for the first episode of season 2 whether he survived or not. It was eventually revealed that Hilda's conversations with him were All Just a Dream.
    • After Bradford dies, Betty hallucinates him (sometimes just his head) speaking to her and encouraging her to return to working at Mode.
  • Deal with the Devil: Christina in "In or Out" and Betty in "Family/Affair"; both "deals" were made with Wilhelmina.
  • Defensive Feint Trap: In the paintball battle, Alexis pretends to have hurt her leg to make Daniel lower his guard so she can shoot him.
  • Dine and Dash: Zig-Zagged in the episode "Bad Amanda". Amanda and Betty, attempting to spend $10,000 worth of goods and services without actually paying for it, go to an expensive restaurant with two artists. The guys do this, sticking them with the Shockingly Expensive Bill, and Amanda suggests playing the trope straight. Betty talks her out of it, and bluffs their way out of paying for the bill by telling the manager they're reviewing the restaurant for MODE (which is true, in a way).
  • Discreet Dining Disposal: In the episode "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", Marc's mom, who's having dinner at the Suarez house, sneaks some of her food off her plate to her cat under the table.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: As Christina goes into labor in the middle of a fashion runway, Wilhelmina orders the models, who are wearing very angel-inspired costumes, to surround her and raise their wings for privacy. When the Clean, Pretty Childbirth is over minutes later, Wilhelmina holds her infant son aloft to triumphant music as she's raised on a hydraulic platform and lights focus on her. Invoking the Madonna Archetype much?
  • Drag Queen: Wilhelmina Slater is so notorious in Manhattan one sprouted up ("Wilhelldiva Hater", played by Vanessa Williams' Real Life brother).
  • Dream Sequence: In "Million Dollar Smile", Betty falls and hits her head and dreams of what her life would be like if she was born with perfect teeth.
  • Drowning My Sorrows:
    • Tyler in "The Past Presents the Future"
    • Daniel's typical coping mechanism, often combined with picking up women.
  • Drunk on Milk: Betty with Chili Cheese Fries.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Several episodes use this trope to reinforce this message, but especially the episode where Claire is acquitted for the murder of Fey Sommers after Betty discovers the perfume she left causes extreme mood swings which can result in violence, irrational behavior and hyper-sexual feelings (Methamphetamine).
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first few episodes featured a much moodier Betty than the somewhat excitable but decidedly optimistic individual most viewers would recognize her as. Also, her voice in those first few episodes sounds noticeably hoarser and somewhat affected compared to the naturally high-pitched tone Ferrera uses after that point. Just think of her sweetly shrill "Daniel!" and compare it to anything she says in the first few episodes.
  • Eat the Evidence: In one episode, Wilhelmina finds panicked employees printing resumes, since they're uncertain about the future of Mode. When they notice she's there, Amanda starts eating her resume.
  • Eccentric Fashion Designer: In one episode, a famous stylist hired to pick the outfit for a celebrity baby photoshoot wants to dress the baby in chain mail. He refuses to listen to Betty's objections over the danger to the baby, and eventually ragequits when she won't budge (since with Daniel and Wilhelmina out of the office she has authority).
  • Elephant in the Living Room: Justin's sexuality has become this in the fourth season.
  • Expy Coexistence: Fey Sommers of Mode is clearly based on Anna Wintour of Vogue (even their names pun: summer/winter), but later episodes mention Wintour as a separate person.
  • Fag Hag: Amanda and her relationship with Marc.
  • Fashion Hurts:
    • In'"The Icing on the Cake," Amanda receives a skin-tight rubber "dress" that is unexpectedly uncomfortable (She thinks is from a famous designer, but it's just a prank from a model Amanda was a bitch to). She spends most of the episode wearing it, being barely able to move.
    • In the same episode, during Wilhelmina's wedding, Marc gets his average boyfriend Cliff to dress up fashionably for the occasion, which results on him complaining about how he could barely breathe.
    • Daniel loans Molly a designer outfit in one episode, after he spills food on her original clothes.
    Molly: Everything I'm wearing hurts. That's good, right?
  • Fashion Show: Averted overall. Fashion is more of a background while the show focuses on the characters and their daily lives.
  • Fashion Magazine: Mode Magazine, the place where all the characters work.
  • Faux Yay: Tavares is a straight man who pretends to be gay to get ahead in his career as a Fashion Designer.
  • Flanderization: In a rare inversion of this trope, Betty starts out as an uber-tacky Fish out of Water and Rummage Sale Reject, Marc and Amanda are super-shallow, mean and ditzy. Daniel a sex-obsessed and rather dim example of nepotism, and Wilhelmina a comical and bitchy snake who throws hissy fits when things don't go her way. All of these characters gradually develop away from these extremes as the show goes on. Played straight with Justin however as he just gets more and more campy.
  • Fleeting Passionate Hobbies: Matt has an MBA, "half a law degree", nearly became a large animal vet, has a brown belt in karate, and almost finished a marathon before giving up on the last mile. When Betty meets him in YETI, his passion has been sports journalism for a while, but he suddenly loses interest right before their final group project is due, deciding to be a painter instead.
  • Friends with Benefits: Amanda and Daniel get into this relationship briefly in season 4. She also has a brief relationship with Tavares, where the "benefits" include custom-designed clothes.
  • Freshman Fears: In Season 4, Justin deals with the challenges of public high school after failing to get into his dream private school. His biggest problem is homophobic bullying, though he doesn't actually come out until well into the season. Marc, who also went to a public high school, takes Justin under his wing and teaches him how to laugh off the bullies' taunts and make friends with the cheerleaders.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Hilda and Daniel are the foolish siblings to Betty and Alexis's responsible sibling.
  • Foreshadowing: In "Filing for the Enemy", Stuart violently pushes over a mannequin after he and Christina have a fight, and Claire pushes over an ice sculpture of Wilhelmina. Both foreshadow the end of the episode, where Christina is pushed down a flight of stairs. Neither of them is guilty of pushing her, though.
  • Funny Foreigner: Christina is Scottish and her Scottish ways (and accent) are almost always Played for Laughs.
  • Gene Hunting: After finding out Fey Sommers was her mother, Amanda starts searching for her father. Thanks to a Phony Psychic, she becomes convinced it's Gene Simmons.
  • Halloween Episode: "The Lyin', the Watch and the Wardrobe".
  • Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: The hallucination of Bradford Meade, apparently because Betty's subconscious always felt he was far too formal.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Kimmie, several times in one episode.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: A rare aversion to this trope, Amanda and Marc are of the opposite sex, but Marc is gay and Amanda shows no attraction to Marc, but the closeness of their friendship still fits this trope.
  • Hidden Depths: Marc and especially Amanda demonstrate this increasingly over the course of the series.
  • Homage: Wilhelmina and Claire's Cat Fight into the fountain is a blatant homage to Dynasty1981, right down to the clothes and hairstyles they were wearing.
  • I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me: Subverted. Betty doesn't have a crush on Daniel like in the other versions of the show, and in the end it's him that develops feelings first.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • While the obvious elephant in the room is "Why the hell don't they just fire Wilhemina?" after everything she does to screw them over, it's repeatedly justified over the course of the series. Wilhelmina is very good at her job and has great publicity, so the magazine can't justify jettisoning her outright for fear of bad press, particularly with all the Meade family drama and Daniel's initial incompetence threatening to send the company under. She was briefly fired after Bradford's death, but the baby scheme forced them to rehire her and receive a 50% share of the company, though she was often overpowered by Daniel, Alexis and Claire. When it was found out the baby wasn't hers and Bradford's and Connor embezzled the Meade's finances, she only was saved from being thrown out the door because Cal Hartley demanded that she kept her position before he'd invest. Still, Daniel has no excuse for repeatedly listening to her right through to the end of the series;
    Claire: You listened to advice from Wilhemina? Doesn't that strike you as a really stupid thing to do?!
    • Daniel not realizing just why he's lucky to have Betty as his Hyper-Competent Sidekick. She's probably one of the reasons the company wasn't run into the ground a long time ago. In fact, on several occasions when she leaves for even a few weeks, Daniel nearly destroys the company with his poor management.
    • Making Kimmie Keegan into an Executive Editor after 3 weeks on the job, for doing one photoshoot that was reasonably successful. It's official, the people running Meade Publications are functionally insane!
  • Important Haircut: In season 4, Betty is getting ready to remove her braces, styles her hair slightly nicer, and stops wearing clothes in a rainbow of clashing colors. Throughout the season her outfits start to get more coordinated and her hair becomes more and more stylish, to the point that Wilhelmina develops a stress ulcer after complimenting her outfit. By the final episodes, Betty is a star at the office and everybody seems to be in love with her makeover.
  • Instant Birth: Just Add Labor!:
    • Downplayed with Charlie giving birth, which takes up half the episode.
    • Played straight with Christina, who announces her water broke about five minutes from the end of the episode.
  • It's a Costume Party, I Swear!: "The Lyin', the Watch and the Wardrobe" has Betty tricked into showing up at work dressed for a (non-existent) Halloween costume contest.
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: A season four episode has Betty imagining a world where she never needed braces, which leads her to become Wilhelmina's assistant. In this world, Daniel is married to Amanda but sleeping with another woman and more of a selfish jerk. At first, it looks like Ignacio is doing well until it turns out he's heavily in debt to gambling. Not only is Hilda (neglected being in Betty's shadow) a frumpy woman about to marry a loser dentist but because she was never popular in high school, Justin doesn't exist. Betty realizes she herself is a terrible woman influenced by Wilhelmina.
  • Kick the Dog: Lampshaded when Betty daydreams about turning into Wilhemina and literally kicks a puppy, which wakes her up.
  • Lady Drunk: Claire Meade, even though she's supposed to be cleaning up.
  • Last-Minute Hookup:
    • Daniel and Betty, as well as well as the much less developed Marc and Troy. Possibly not entirely by the writers' choice.
    • Kind of averted, since Claire was seeing sporadic, but evident, signs of this since Season 3.
  • Leaving You to Find Myself: In the second season finale, Gio asks Betty to go on a romantic trip to Italy with him, while Henry (who she'd just gotten over) proposes to her. She Took a Third Option and went on a cross-country road trip without either of them.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: In "The Bahamas Triangle", Daniel suffers from this when trying to sleep with a woman, due to still grieving the death of Molly. He manages to get it up for Amanda at the end of the episode.
  • Love Epiphany: Daniel seemingly realizes his feelings for Betty in "The Past Presents the Future".
  • Love Triangle: A lot of them. The first is Henry stuck between Betty and his girlfriend Charlie in Season 1, then Betty has to choose between Henry and Gio in Season 2.
  • Macho Latino: Santos is opposed to Justin's camp tendencies, trying to get his son interested in more masculine hobbies like sports. Hilda puts her foot down, and tells Santos that if he wants to be part of Justin's life, he has to accept him as he is.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: When Wilhelmina uses a computer virus to sabotage Mode after being fired, for some reason, the person that identified the problem and called Daniel and Alexis was Henry, an accountant. This was partially justified by him being one of the only people present in the building, as the accountants had a deadline they needed to meet, but it still doesn't explain the lack of any IT people.
  • Mama Bear:
    • Do NOT mess with ANY of Claire Meade's children.
    • Same goes for Justin. Hilda will hurt you.
  • Man, I Feel Like a Woman: Happens to Alexis in a episode where she suffers from Easy Amnesia and has her memory revert back to before she became a woman.
  • Maybe Ever After: Daniel has realized his feelings, but Betty still hadn't been given enough time to possibly see it their relationship that way. In the end, the ending was left ambiguous with his catching up with her at her new job. She has to run but smiles as she walks away, leaving fans on either side to draw conclusions.
  • Medication Tampering: A non-fatal version; Wilhelmina has Marc swap her sister's anti-psychotic meds with useless ones so she'll become mentally unstable and Wilhelmina can have her committed to an asylum.
  • Mister Muffykins: Halston, Fey Sommers's Chinese Crested dog. He's later adopted by Amanda.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: When his father, Ramiro Vasquez, berates him for not shooting Ignacio yet, Hector snaps and shoots him instead.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Both Amanda and Wilhelmina show a lot of skin in their many revealing and glamorous outfits and get into many Fanservicey situations. Also applies to many Girls Of The Week and Fanservice Extra, as Mode is a Fashion Magazine and has many scenes with attractive models in sexy clothes or in their underwear.
  • Multitasked Conversation: In the episode "Be-Shure", both Betty and Hilda realize that the other may be pregnant. Desperate to keep their father in the dark about it, they speak in code to each other while helping him in the kitchen.
    Hilda: You got burned? Weren't you being careful?
    Betty: Of course I was. Weren't you?
    Hilda: Obviously. [picks up hot pot from stove] Ouch!
    Ignacio: Burned twice in one day? That's what happens when you don't wear an oven mitt.
    • When Ignacio's new girlfriend Jean, the pharmacist who sold them the tests, shows up, she pretends not to know them, but asks Betty pointedly "Are you well?" and when Betty nods, "Are you positive?"
  • Naked in Mink: Wilhelmina first tried to seduce Bradford this way. She also used this trope to counter a fur protester wearing nothing but burlap. Both times she wore one side off the shoulder to make it clear there was nothing underneath.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Amanda's Shameless Fanservice Girl antics are often played for humor.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: To Betty, Henry combines this with Endearingly Dorky.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In the 4th season premiere, Daniel unwittingly destroys the goodwill Betty had earned from Matt and Megan by showing her favoritism in an editor meeting.
  • No Bisexuals: Unfortunately typical in shows which are created by and/or written by Gay people.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Betty can just as selfish and self-serving as Wilhemina, which is lampshaded on occasion.
    Wilhelmina: Why Betty Suarez, using a man to get what you want?! You are full of surprises tonight.
  • Obfuscating Disability: After being in a car crash, Daniel pretends to still need a wheelchair so he can hook up with his physical therapist. Betty is not amused, especially after he sent her all the way to New Jersey to get him a fancy electric wheelchair.
  • Odd Couple: Betty and Amanda as roommates in Season 3.
  • Only Sane Employee: It's obvious that Betty and Christina are the only people in Meade Publications who are actually concerned with doing their damn job. Everyone else... not so much. Less noticeable in later seasons, as Marc, Daniel, and Wilhelmina become more responsible and focused on the magazine's success (though they're still always sniping and jockeying for power with each other).
  • Open-Minded Parent: Hilda, Claire, and Ignacio. All for different reasons but supportive nonetheless.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: Orange and blue show up frequently, in the decor at both Mode and the Suarez household, and in clothing like Betty's blue and orange poncho that she wears in the first episode. The contrast becomes even more pronounced when the Suarezes go to Mexico and the scenes there are given the yellow tint that all American media set in Mexico gets.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: Player is the third bestselling no-nudity men's magazine in the country.
  • Paintball Episode: "Bananas for Betty" has Alexis and Daniel try to settle their rivalry with a paintball contest.
  • Parental Abandonment:
    • What Bradford Meade tells his son Alex Meade when he comes clean about his desire to be a woman.
    • Marc technically also counts, with his mother rejecting him when he comes out of the closet to her, though it seemed she was aware and simply willfully ignorant.
  • Papa Wolf: Do not mess with one of Ignacio's daughters. Santos starts to become this to Justin, after he accepts him for who he is. Bradford is this, although it's mostly hidden under his tough love. Daniel demonstrates this towards D.J., although he later discovers he's not really his father.
  • Percussive Therapy: After Bradford tells her he's postponing the wedding, Wilhelmina goes to the roof and smashes mannequins in a rage with a baseball bat (framed by Dramatic Thunder).
  • Pet the Dog: Almost every villainous character at some point.
    • If it wasn't for Marc serving as Wilhemina's Morality Pet to give her these moments, it's clear that she would have crossed the Moral Event Horizon long ago. Acknowledged in-universe, as Wilhemina seems to realize this whenever doing something so cruel that Marc threatens to leave over it.
  • Plucky Office Girl: Betty, in spades. This is, in fact, the entire point of her character.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Thanks to numerous norms, mistrust, lies, backstabbing and conspiring, many of the characters are unable to solve their problems through communication. Because of this, many problems that could be solved through being honest aren't, or aren't taken seriously.
  • Posthumous Character: Fey Sommers is an important character in the story that died before the show started and is only present in flashbacks. Likewise with Betty and Hilda's mom, Rosa Suarez.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Basically the writers dumped the angle of Betty being instantly in love with Daniel and supplementing her crush with her office work, in favor of Betty realizing that Daniel wasn't totally worthless and becoming the little sister he never had. She became someone who didn't take his crap, and pushed him to prove everyone who looked down on him wrong. She gave him the positive (non-romantic) re-enforcement that he never had growing up when he did good, or had to do something he didn't want to do for the sake of proving himself a good person. As such, when the writers finally did go down the romance angle with the two, it was Daniel who was secretly in love with Betty and Betty being unaware of it.
  • Pregnancy Test Plot: The Season 4 episode "Be-Shure" involves both Hilda and Betty thinking they may be pregnant, but being prevented from figuring out the results by each other and a family Christmas dinner (plus their father's new girlfriend is the pharmacist who sold them the tests).
  • Pretty Freeloaders: In Season 3, Amanda gets evicted and starts living at Mode by seducing the security guard.
  • Pretty in Mink: Wilhelmina in many episodes, but especially when she wears a fur gown to seduce Bradford.
  • Raging Stiffie: In "Petra-Gate", Amanda realizes Tavares isn't gay when he gets one of these while she's taking off her clothes in front of him.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Claire, once she quits drinking. By the end of the series, while Wilhemina and Daniel are still acting according to their own personal idiom, she seems to be the only one in management whose mind is on getting the job done.
  • Relationship Reveal: Justin and Austin towards the end of the show.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot Alexis Meade was written out of the show as a result of her actress's pregnancy. Why? Because Alexis is Transgender and cannot get pregnant.
  • Really Gets Around:
    • Amanda. And she's very proud of it. Marc likes to brag about this, but Amanda's claims, especially in Mode After Hours, state just the opposite. Zander, Meade's security guard, couldn't care less about genders in spite of pleasure.
    • Daniel during Series 1, though he later realizes it's due to sex-addiction.
  • Really 17 Years Old: Inverted in the first season. Daniel sleeps with a Sensual Slav model named Petra and her sister Lena, who then reveals that Petra is 16 and she's actually her mother. They blackmail Daniel into making Petra the cover model of the next issue, or they go to the police and the media. It turns out Petra is actually 20 and Daniel doesn't have to risk prison.
  • "Rediscovering Roots" Trip: The Suarez family goes to Guadalajara so Ignacio can get a visa and become a legal immigrant to the US. The American-born Hilda, Betty, and Justin (especially Betty) take the trip as an opportunity to learn about the Mexican parts of their heritage.
  • Rich Bitch: Wilhelmina Slater and Victoria Hartley
  • The Rival:
    • Marc and Amanda are this for Betty in the early seasons, as they both have professional reasons to get her fired
    • Alexis and Daniel become rivals for the leadership of Mode in the first two seasons.
  • Rummage Sale Reject / Impossibly Tacky Clothes: A lot of Betty's clothes from the first few seasons. In Season 4, she finds out Marc and Amanda even made a blog documenting her tacky outfits.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Ignacio's case worker, Constance (played by Octavia Spencer), and L'amanda (Played by Mo'Nique), the weekend security woman.
  • Say My Name Trailer: A few of the show's ads have done this.
  • Scenery Censor: When Betty bumps into Amanda in her birthday suit in "Crush'd", a bunch of objects are used to block her naughty bits.
  • Sex God: After sleeping with Rodrigo, a breathless post-coital Alexis says it was an experience "worth becoming a woman for".
  • Sex Montage: The ending of "The Bahamas Triangle", shows all the couples in bed with their respective Love Interest in a quick montage.
  • Sexy Surfacing Shot: In "The Bahamas Triangle", Wilhelmina is sulking and staring at the ocean in the beach when her thought to be dead Love Interest Connor suddenly rises out of the ocean in Slow Motion while sexy music plays in the background.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl:
    • Amanda seems almost devoid of modesty, doing things such as walking around naked in Mode before it opens, bathing in the middle of Betty's kitchen or striking poses after suffering a Wardrobe Malfunction in front of a group of reporters.
    • In "Trust, Lust, and Must", Sofia Reyes doesn't hesitate to take off her shirt when she gets coffee spilled on her shirt, right in front of Daniel. She even scoffs when she catches him Eating the Eye Candy.
  • Shared Family Quirks: Amanda is searching for her father and Marc notices she and Bradford both have similar mannerisms. Subverted when a DNA test proves he's not her father, and none of the mannerisms are ever shown again from either of them.
  • Shipper on Deck: Claire Meade shipped Daniel and Betty as early as Season 3.
  • Ship Sinking / Writer Revolt: Failed. Word of God first stated that Daniel and Betty would never get together, causing the hardcore Detty shippers to stop watching the show. However, that was soon recanted to a Shrug of God. When the show was canceled, it ended with Daniel clearly in love with Betty, with Betty's feelings unclear but not averse to the idea. After which the show creator admitted that they were the core of the show, whether as friends or lovers, and neglecting their relationship had been part of the show's downfall. Cue the cries of "I TOLD YOU SO!" from the vindicated but still unsatisfied shippers.
  • Should Have Thought of That Before X: In episode "A Tree Grows in Guadalajara"
    Alexis: [Hates the fact that Daniel is seeing her ex-girlfriend]
    Daniel: You're just jealous because I've got the one thing you can't have. Guess you should have thought of that before you gave away the family jewels, huh?
  • Shoulders-Up Nudity:
    • Used in "A Thousand Words Before Friday", during Daniel's and Wilhelmina Shower of Awkward encounter.
    • Shown often with Amanda whenever she's naked.
    • In "The Bahamas Triangle", when Betty catches Wilhelmina topless at the resort we only see her from the shoulders up or from the back.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shower of Awkward: In "A Thousand Words Before Friday", Daniel and his Love Interest Renee spend the night in her apartment. The morning after, Daniel walks in the bathroom and sees a Sexy Silhouette showering. Thinking it's Reene, he strips naked barges into the shower... only to find his Arch-Enemy Wilhelmina. Cue a mutual Naked Freak-Out. Turns out that they're sisters and Renee is crashing on Wilhelmina's place.
  • Show Within a Show: Two. "Fashion Buzz" and the Telenovela "Vidas De Fuego" ("Lives of Fire").
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Marc to Betty, of all people, to prevent her from revealing to his mother that he's gay.
  • Sick Captive Scam: Claire, Yoga, and two other inmates escape from a prison van by having one of them who's diabetic fake a blood sugar crisis, and then overpowering the guard.
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: Gina Gambarro for Hilda.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss:
    • Amanda and Nick Pepper revert to this after quite a few scenes of sexual tension, coming to a close when both tag each other out of a game of company paintball — and consequently decide that their catfights actually turn them on.
    • Justin and Austin had a mild form of this before their first kiss which included insulting one another, and right before the kiss, them playfully shoving one another.
  • Snub by Omission: What is presumably an oversight in the third season finale gloriously becomes this. Henry is repeatedly described as Betty's first love, ignoring the existence of Walter... or implying she never loved him.
  • Spicy Latina: Averted with Betty, but her sister Hilda is pretty caliente.
  • Stock Sound Effects: When Betty meets Wilhelmina on the roof, she hears Dramatic Thunder... and turns around to see Marc shaking a sheet of metal.
  • Stripping Snag: In "Betty's Wait Problem", Marc helps Amanda get the media's attention a red carpet event by deliberately (and somewhat apologetically) stepping on the hem of her dress, which caused her dress to be ripped off leaving her naked in front of a crowd of photographers. She's momentarily embarrassed, but soon gets over it as the flashbulbs start popping and begins posing and enjoying the attention.
  • Stupid Statement Dance Mix: I'm Wilhelmina Slater and I don't get wet.
  • Subways Suck: Justin and his parents get stuck in a subway car when the power breaks down, causing them to miss a performance of Hairspray.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Bobby can be seen as this for Santos. Both were former small-time criminals who reformed, dated Hilda several years previously and ended up getting her pregnant. It's no surprise that Ignacio utterly loathed them both when they came back into Hilda's life.
  • Take That!: A few quick ones here and there. Example:
    Christina: Look at the files Wilhelmina has! Madonna, Trent Lott, George Clooney!
    Betty: Ryan Seacrest?!
    Christina: I don't know why she's holding onto that one. Somebody should take him down.
    Assistant: She has a story about four single working women in New York City.
    Sofia: Tell her to call me when she gets an original idea.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Justin Suarez is the result of this. Hilda had him in her senior year of high school after getting pregnant at the prom.
  • Thanksgiving Episode:
    • "Four Thanksgivings and a Funeral"
    • "Lose the Boss" takes place immediately after Thanksgiving.
  • Thinks Like a Romance Novel: The dental assistant in "East Side Story" who's obsessed with romance movies and encourages Betty to Race for Your Love to the airport and win Henry back.
  • Tickle Torture: In "Queens for a Day", Betty is forced to endure this as part of her makeover. Turns out Betty's feet are so ticklish, it requires BOTH Hilda and Cholli to keep her leg down.
  • Title Drop: First done in one of the Lindsay Lohan episodes where Kimmie calls her "Ugly Betty". Later, in the What If? episode "Million Dollar Smile," Daniel makes a remark to Betty that on the inside "You're ugly, Betty." Long story.
    • Also, in "Grin and Bear It", Amanda calls a photo of the young Wilhelmina "Ugly Willie".
  • Tomboyish Name: Charlie, Henry's ex-girlfriend.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Betty over the course of the series becomes noticeably more selfish and self-serving. She later snaps out of it, after she imagines herself from the pilot episode calling her out on all the morally dubious things she's been involved in since starting at Mode.
  • Toplessness from the Back:
    • In "Petra-Gate", we get a shot of Amanda's naked back as she strips in front of Tavares and finds out he isn't gay when he starts Eating the Eye Candy.
    • In "Crush'd" we get a few shots of Amanda bare back when Betty finds her naked at Mode, combined with some Scenery Censor and Shoulders-Up Nudity.
    • In "The Bahamas Triangle", when Betty catches Wilhelmina topless at the resort she's only shown from the back or from the shoulders up.
  • Trans Relationship Troubles: Alexis goes through a lot of these. First, she thinks a guy at a barnote  is into her, but it was just a bet to see if he could get a "freak"'s phone number. Then, when thinks she's finally found a man who loves her and doesn't care if she's trans, he turns out to be hired by Bradford to get her to move to Brazil.
  • Trauma Button: Wilhelmina deliberately triggers her Yandere sister Renee with candles to increase her Sanity Slippage so she'll be institutionalized. It turns out Renee accidentally killed her old boyfriend in a fire (while trying to kill his secretary, who she'd become convinced was an obstacle).
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Fey Sommers looks identical to her daughter Amanda, and they're also both played by Becki Newton.
  • The Vamp: Wilhelmina, when seducing Bradford to try to take control of the magazine.
  • Vehicular Sabotage:
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Invoked by Wilhelmina in "Bananas for Betty". She gives expensive designer clothes to homeless people, sings to sick children, and makes sure TV cameras happen to be there to let everyone know what a good person she is. It turns out to be All for Nothing when later that night, she slams Betty White's finger in a car door and callously states "I'm Wilhelmina Slater and I don't get wet."
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy:
    • Daniel all the way. Eventually subverted when his father says "I love you too son" when Daniel is out of earshot.
  • White-and-Grey Morality: While things started out very clean-cut good and bad, the main villainous characters were just too appealing to stay flat. The turning point was probably the fourth episode "Fey's Sleigh Ride", which featured all the good and bad characters working together, and is highly regarded as one of the best episodes. Fully evil villains were a rarity even for antagonists outside the main cast.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Sofia Reyes is in the same building as the Mode offices for (as far as we know) the rest of the series, but is never seen or mentioned again. Not even when plot developments would indicate some mention (Claire taking control of Meade Publications, and again when they're deciding which of the magazines to cut.) This is especially strange since her actress, Salma Hayek, is one of the producers and would've been available to reprise her role.
  • Where da White Women At?: Race-flipped. Betty, Renee and Wilhelmina can't seem to resist the white boys. Mostly averted with Hilda although she dates a white guy or two before finally settling down with Bobby.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Wilhelmina gets Marc to hit her (he ends up knocking her down the stairs) so she can make Bradford think Claire sent thugs to attack her, convincing him to divorce Claire and marry her.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: The "Debitz", Henry's bowling team name. The Z is for intimidation.
  • Yandere:
    • Ignacio's immigration case worker, Constance, starts flirting with him more and more, eventually forcefully kissing him and strapping a tracking ankle bracelet on him to prevent him leaving the house. Ignacio is helpless against her, since if he tries to report her she can get him deported as an illegal immigrant. When he meets her previous boyfriend, a Haitian immigrant, he finds out she did the same exact thing with him, and only stopped because she moved on to Ignacio. And then he finds out she was fired two months ago, and has just been pretending to help his case.
    • Renee for Daniel in season 2. She suffers from a mental illness that makes her insanely and violently possessive, but is able to keep in control with medicine. But Wilhelmina messes with her medication to get rid of her, thus making her go crazy with jealousy, attempt to kill Betty, and light Daniel's apartment on fire.
  • Yes-Man: Marc St. James. So much that when he starts working as Daniel's assistant, he expresses his confusion as to how to react to Daniel's remarks.
  • You Said You Couldn't Dance: Said word-for-word when Daniel is trying to one-up Sofia's boyfriend Hunter, who claims he can't dance but is actually much better than Daniel. He meant he can't dance well enough to be a professional ballroom dancer.

 
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The Straight Closet

Amanda realizes her gay friend isn't gay when she notices him checking her out. He confesses he only pretends to be gay because it helps in his career as a fashion designer.

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