Ugly Betty Recap: Series Premiere - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

Ugly Betty Recap: Series Premiere

September 29, 2006 by  

Ugly Betty Recap

Looks like ABC might have another winner on their hands.  Ugly Betty is a sweet and endearing new dramedy, the likes of which we haven’t seen in awhile.  This new show was quick to make it on to GMMR’s list of new favorite shows this fall season.  It’s only drawback…it’s up against my favorite show, The Office.  But, we are lucky that Julie from Television and Sympathy is back to recap each and every episode for us.  Thanks Jules…

Title: “Moment”
Original Airdate: 9/28/06

We open on our bespectacled, braces-wearing heroine Betty, nervous but hopeful, in an atrocious pink suit, in the ornate lobby of Meade publications. The first words out of Betty’s mouth are a compliment to a stuck-up poncho-sporting fashionista, who isn’t particularly flattered. The prissy recruiting coordinator calls her name, but once he spots Betty, tells her there’s been a mistake and that all the entry level positions have been filled. Unimpressed by Betty’s determined recitation of her skills and interest in Meade publications, the recruiter shuts the door in her face. Someone, however, is listening — a trim older gentleman (who you might recognize as Seth Cohen’s granddad) hears Betty’s impassioned plea from a balcony above the lobby.

Later, at Betty’s house, a wildly overdramatic telenovela (featuring a cameo by Salma Hayek) airs on TV while her father Ignacio, her sister Hilda, and her nephew Justin are all sitting down to dinner. They talk about plans for her dad’s birthday and he asks how her interview went. Betty reports that it went “really good,” but her sister’s unconvinced and asks whether she’s considered other options. Her dad is still supportive of her dream, though. Good daddy. They then bring up the news that her boyfriend Walter might be proposing soon. Betty is very “!!!” but hopeful.

Of course, Walter chooses that as the opportune time to show up, carting along a semi-busted stereo as a gift for Betty (he works at an electronics store). He asks if they can talk outside, which Betty excitedly agrees to. Indoors, Justin watches a deliciously trashy news blurb on Fashion TV about the death of Mode magazine editor-in-chief Fey Sommers, who was shockingly replaced by “notorious man-whore” Daniel Meade, son of Meade Publications owner Bradford Meade, rather than Mode creative director Wilhelmina Slater.

Daniel, we see, is in the office, if not exactly on the job. His assistant, however, is on the job (and on her knees) when Bradford walks in. Bradford appears less than proud of his son’s work ethic.

Betty, meanwhile, is receiving quite a shock herself. Turns out Walter is in love with someone else – her neighbor Gina. Betty takes the news well, if a bit stoically. Later, suffocating her sorrows in flan, she gets a call from Meade Publications. They’ve got an opening at Mode for the assistant to the editor in chief. Is she interested? Hell yeah, she’s interested! And she has just the stylish thing to wear…

A poncho. That’s what Betty rolls up in on her very first day. A big, tacky, red poncho with “Guadalajara” emblazoned on the front. The stylishly dressed receptionist Amanda, bitchy but informative, shows Betty in to her very first staff meeting…to which she makes a grand entrance by smacking into the glass door as Daniel’s giving his intro. Daniel’s interrupted once again by the sweeping entrance of Wilhelmina and her lapdog, er, assistant Marc, who presents him with a gift…a tacky glass flower which, as Daniel points out, has his name spelled wrong. “I’m hellaciously upset,” deadpans Wilhelmina. “Purge this from memory.” She then steamrolls the discussion into their next big editorial layout – a spread for Fabia cosmetics — before telling everyone to get back to work. She is one ballsy bitch.

As the meeting adjourns, Betty takes that opportunity to introduce herself to Daniel and explain that she’ll be his new assistant. As I’m sure you can imagine, his excitement is written all over his face.

While receiving what looks like the most recent in a long line of botox treatments from Marc, Wilhelmina complains about being passed over for editor and Daniel’s general incompetence. Marc consoles her with his belief that Daniel will be out soon, if his assistant is any indication: “This is Mode, not Dog Fancy.” Marc leaves as Wilhelmina takes a mysterious phone call.

At her desk, Betty does some research about the “fabulously douchey” Fabia. Meanwhile, Daniel meets with photographer Philippe Michel, who’ll be doing the Fabia photo shoot. According to Amanda, Daniel hooked up with Philippe’s ex-girlfriend a couple years ago, but they get along swimmingly now. Sure they do. Philippe looks through a list of potential shoot ideas and discards them. After Daniel confesses he feels like Wilhelmina’s trying to lead him in the wrong direction on the photo shoot, Philippe offers to help. Betty interrupts, compliments and insults Philippe in about three seconds, then heads out. Daniel admits his father hired Betty, but that she appears to be capable. Philippe doesn’t care – she’s “fugly” and would ruin Daniel’s appearance in such an image-conscious industry. Maybe he can’t fire her, Philippe reasons, but he should be so intolerable as to force her to quit.

Betty heads to lunch, paper bag in hand. She’s greeted by a slew of disgusted stares, but finally finds a friendly face in Brit Christina, who works in the closet, acting as an in-house seamstress. Christina introduces Betty to a couple of her friends, who are delightfully average-looking and give Betty a proper welcome.

Bradford, feeding some pigeons lunch on a park bench, meets with a private investigator. The investigator informs him his wife is dead, gone, finito, but Bradford insists that he triple-check, since apparently the woman knew some secrets he wouldn’t want to get out under any circumstances.

Daniel begins phase one of Operation Make Betty Quit by asking her to de-cabbage his coleslaw. She complies, and as “She Works Hard for the Money” plays, we’re treated to a montage of Daniel’s degrading and unappreciative requests: dog-walking, shoe de-gumming, booty-call coordination. She even forgets to go to her dad’s birthday celebration because she’s too busy working. Daniel seems to feel a glimmer of guilt, but it fades quickly, replaced by the image of a lingerie-clad floosie.

By the time Betty arrives home, the party’s over, and Hilda’s cleaning up. Betty’s chagrined, but Hilda isn’t too harsh on her. She just says she hopes it’s all worth it. They even saved Betty a piece of cake. Good sissy.

Slumping on the couch, Betty spots a photo of herself and her mom and inspiration strikes. She starts scribbling “Fabia ideas” on her notepad. The next day, she tries to present them to a distracted Daniel as they ride in the elevator. He doesn’t even care, just asks her to go to the closet and bring an outfit they forgot to the photo shoot.

At the closet, Christina and Betty chat for a minute while she picks up the outfit. Betty admits things aren’t going well; Daniel treats her badly and ignores her feedback. Christina gives her the good and bad news. Good news: Bradford wanted to hire her. Bad news: he wanted to hire her because he didn’t want Daniel to keep sleeping with his assistants. Ouch. Ever the optimist, though holding back tears, Betty says she should be grateful she got her break. She then scrams, leaving behind the folder with her Fabia ideas.

The photo shoot is garish and over-the-top, all bright colors, big hair, and tight clothes. Philippe’s freaking out because one of the models is late, and they need to test the lighting. They need someone with a specific skin tone. Someone like…Betty. But will she do it, or will it be the straw that breaks the assistant’s spirit? Daniel bets she won’t, but when she comes out in skimpy leather, they have their answer.

Despite being humiliated, Betty bravely poses for the test shots. Mocking laughter choruses around her as she stands between two stick-thin models. Daniel, who seems to have reached his limit for torturing another human being, tells Philippe to stop taking pictures. By that time Betty’s reached her limit — she grabs her things and runs out. Daniel follows her, and she confronts him, saying he got what he wanted. She’s quitting. “God forbid you have to live with the ugly girl your dad forced you to hire.” Daniel has the marginal good grace to look guilty.

On her stoop the next day, Justin commiserates with Betty. He says Hilda thinks Betty was reaching for too much, but he thinks Hilda’s full of crap. Betty spots Gina, the Walter-stealing hussy, making out a few doors down. Betty, in full-on “take no crap” mode, marches down the street and barges in on her, only to find that she’s cavorting with a young man of the non-Walter variety. Turns out she never wanted Walter – she just wanted a discount on a flat-screen TV.

Meanwhile at Mode, Daniel’s presenting his fashion spread to the platinum-tressed and, indeed, fabulously douchy Fabia (a poorly-accented, barely recognizable Gina Gershon). The theme is “Collision,” and smashed cars and trashy models are splashed all over the pages. Fabia asks if it’s a joke before calling it “stupido”, throwing food at Daniel, and storming out. Daniel’s clueless about her behavior, but Marc says she might still be “sensitive about the accident” in which she backed her SUV over 12 people. Philippe claims ignorance, saying he was in Saint Tropez, but Wilhelmina says it’s his own fault for not including her in his discussions.

Bradford, while doing what I can only guess is Pilates, expresses his displeasure with Daniel’s failure. Apparently Fabia is threatening to pull all her advertising from all Meade publications. Bradford doesn’t care about Daniel’s excuse that he believed Wilhelmina was sabotaging him. “I’m sorry I keep hoping you’ll be something you’re clearly not,” he tells his son. Daniel begs to present a new idea to Fabia the following morning.

Of course, he’s definitely not getting any help from Wilhelmina this time – she’s too busy frolicking with Philippe as they celebrate her sabotage and his revenge on Daniel.

That night, Daniel, looking stressed, wades through a sea of fashion pages on his desk before finding Betty’s Fabia file, which he flips through.

At the Suarez house, Betty’s on the telephone, battling with the health insurance for her dad. When she gets off the phone, Ignacio tells her how much he appreciates her. He’s being sweet, unlike Walter, who’s being dense (when he shows up and pleads Betty to take him back), or Daniel, who’s being desperate (when he also shows up and pleads Betty to take him back).

Daniel apologizes, saying he listened to all the wrong people about all the wrong things, and he has no one to blame but himself. Betty accepts his apology, but tells him to leave, saying he’ll never understand the problems she has to deal with, like HMO’s or making rent. Surprisingly, Daniel says they all have problems: “I lost a brother a while back. He was the good one in our family, and I’ve never quite measured up. But I am trying.” He says he saw her Fabia layout and thought it was smart and beautiful. He wants to use it and give her credit. Will she come back and be his assistant? Things will be different, he promises. Betty says she’ll think about it.

The following morning, Fabia and her posse wait for Daniel’s new presentation, but he’s late. Wicked Wilhelmina butchers some Italian and tries to butt in with her own ideas, when Daniel finally arrives, Betty in tow. Their idea, hastily put together, is to show the softer side of Fabia cosmetics, focusing on mothers and daughters. Fabia asks for some proof that the idea will work for her customers, and Betty steps up to the plate with some numbers about brand loyalty and demographics. Fabia and her fabulously douchiness are in. Success! Betty is even so classy that she gives Daniel credit in front of his dad.

Post-meeting, Wilhelmina reports to a masked woman in a bathtub, saying it’s a temporary setback and it’s only a matter of time until they can take over the company. Even La Mujer Misteriosa seems threatened by Betty’s impact, however.

Outside the Meade offices, Betty thanks Christina for her help before popping over to brief Daniel on his schedule for the next day. Tomorrow morning, he tells her. She doesn’t need to worry about that. As she walks away, he looks after her, a smile on his face and a hint of admiration in his eyes.

Julie is a GMMR recapper extraordinaire, but she also has her own fabulous TV website. Head over to TV and Sympathy to read more from Julie.


5 Responses to “Ugly Betty Recap: Series Premiere”

  1. Julie on September 29th, 2006 5:48 pm

    My pleasure to recap. I LOVED the ep. Trying to figure out if people aren’t responding because they all watched The Office, or because the recap was so darn long! 😉 I’m hoping they know they can catch the episode on for free….DEFINITELY worth checking out.

  2. Michelle on September 29th, 2006 5:51 pm

    I want to watch the episode before I read your recap. I’m sure both are great, and I don’t want to spoil it. I’ve heard great things about the show and I love your writing, so both should be a treat. The show is waiting for me on TiVo tonight. Yup, I watched “The Office.” Sorry, “Betty”!

  3. Julie on September 29th, 2006 7:33 pm

    That’s a relief, Michelle. I hope you’ll like Ugly Betty as much as I did. 🙂 I’m bummed about Betty’s time slot too…I wish they’d move it to Wednesdays or Fridays at 8, when there’s not much to watch, but alas.

  4. Michelle on September 30th, 2006 9:57 pm

    Just as I thought, I really liked the show. and the recap was great! I had a really hard time sitting through people being so mean to Betty. I mean really, really nasty. I know that’s what the show is trying to do, and I know that there really are (unfortunately) people like that in the world, but it was hard to watch Betty suffer like that. She’s so earnest and genuine and nice. I hope she really kicks butt soon 😉

    Daniel seems very genuine to me, too. He’s gorgeous, obviously, but there’s something else about him…maybe his eyes?…that makes me think he’s gentler and kinder than we see. I think he really is a nice person, and I’m hesitant to admit that I never really disliked him, even during Operation Make Betty Quit. I’m curious to see where this goes. I can’t imagine he and Betty would ever become romantically involved (please, no…we’ve seen enough storylines like that on other shows, anyway), but I definitely see them as allies with a mutual respect for one another.

    Oh – was anyone else surprised by the “assistant under the desk” scene on a network TV show at 8 pm? I wasn’t offended, just shocked. They didn’t even try to pretend that what was happening wasn’t really happening. Wow.

    Go, Betty! I hope everyone starts treating you better…including your network. I don’t think Thursday nights at 9 pm are going to be good for you, so I hope ABC has a little patience with the show and lets it find an audience.

  5. Bob on January 7th, 2007 9:28 pm

    I love your recaps! Especially because I’ve been swaped with work and Wednesday’s and Thursday’s are my overtime days! Although it’s all over now and I’ll finally be able to watch “Betty” again. I also hope she goes back to mode. It’s really the oppurtunity of a lifetime. =o