Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney

Massive Betty Love Omnibus

Anyone who is watching Ugly Bettyin the UK, and not seeing the US episodes by one means or another, should absolutely turn their faces away.

I am, of course, still on tenterhooks, but two and a bit episodes into the Alexis arc, I am starting to hope that the show might manage the first of having a central character who is trans without its being brushed under the carpet (the way it has been in Corrie) or used for cheaply negative melodrama - as opposed to UB's glossy expensive kind...Alexis and Wilhelmina have conspired, thus far successfully, against Bradford - the revelations this week about Bradford's rejection of Alex when the issue of transition came up make that emotionally acceptable even if we believe Claire's confession that it was her, not Bradford, who murdered Fey. Because I don't see any evidence that Alexis and Wilhelmina believe Bradford innocent when they hand the evidence of his guilt to the police, there is at least the strong probability that they actually think he killed Fey and are determined to see justice done, as well as their own careers advanced...

In 1.15, 'Brothers and Friends', we saw Alexis and Daniel start to rebuild their relationship after some staggeringly bad behaviour on both sides. Alexis seizes the company and fires Daniel; Daniel takes out injunctions that use Alexis' transition against her; they hold rival press conferences in the lobby in which they are more childish than is entirely seemly for grown people. And yet, the moment Betty tells them their mother has gone missing, they drop everything.

It's a scam of course and the alliance of Betty and a temporarily not-drunk Claire is a very powerful one. The siblings talk out their grief and rage - Alexis accuses Daniel of being like Bradford and says she could not have borne to be rejected by Daniel as well as their father. Daniel is left stunned at the accusation, not least because it has an element of truth to it. We are seeing what often happens in families, which is both siblings being led to believe that the other one is the good child and they are the disappointment.

I was slightly irritated by various comments that imputed inconsistency to Alexis' remarks that she wanted to tell Daniel, and her saying that she didn't because she feared rejection. What on earth is inconsistent about that? With far less reason than Alexis to fear telling my sister, telling her was far harder than anything I had to do at the time of my own transition.

So, anyway, Alexis and Daniel have made it up and Wilhelmina thinks she has been betrayed, which is oddly sad. Oddly, because Wilhelmina has done everything in her power to paint Daniel to Alexis in a bad light during the period when she totally controlled Alexis' view of her brother, and yet, when that comes back to bite her, it is sad.

Jen was wondering what Wilhelmina's relationship with Alexis is about, beyond the mutual pursuit of power. My own guess is that they have a past rather than a clear future - they may have been lovers back when Alex was still male and sleeping around. Certainly she was the key confidante over the transition at a point when family seemed unsupportive; I suspect that we will learn that much of Alexis' surgery was paid for on Meade money via Wil's expense account, the butt lift in Rio being perhaps a case in point. She has been the friend Alexis needed, but if they were ever lovers it is in the past and it is so very very over.

My perception of Wil is that she is pretty straight both in practice and in terms of how she sees herself. She was a courtier at the court of Queen Fey and the likes of Fey control men with vaguely sexual behaviourm, and women with unacknoweldged vaguely sexual behaviour. As i mentioned to friends after seeing The Devil Wears Prada, I have worked for a boss like that; Carmen was vaguely lesbophobic at a conscious level, yet policed the emotional lives of her women protegees. I saw her try to stop one of these getting married by telling her that Carmen had slept with her fiancee, 'and he was rubbish'. I think that the young Wilhelmina never got to explore any feelings she might have for women because Fey sucked them all up.

Which also raises the question of why Wilhelmina has not accepted Betty's competence yet. Alexis has noticed it in hours, not months. My guess is that the young Wilhelmina was more like Betty than we can possibly imagine and is terrified that people will see her in Betty the way she sees herself - it's like the Christmas Carol episode of Popular when we see pre-Marley, nervous plump Nicole.

One very interesting question about the future of the show is where they are going to go with Alexis' sexuality. We know Alex slept with women, but that does not necessarily mean anything either way. We have the question of whether a network show is going to show a post-transition woman having a sex life at all, and the question of whether that sex life will be straight or gay.

If she has a heterosexual life, it means that they have to bring in a parade of men for her to have relationships with, just as they do with Wilhelmina. This will get boring and also means that they have to keep on hiring new actors who either go away soon or clutter up the cast.

There is also the question of whether Middle America will be more squicked by a transwoman who is straight - teh Holy Penis going into Strange Places - or one who is gay. Obviously, one who is gay is covered by the Lesbian Exception - a lot of viewers, especially male ones, being prepared to watch shiny female flesh sliding against each other. After all, last time I checked, about a quarter to a third of transwomen are bi or gay, so the odds ain't bad and it is time the simple fact that gender identification and sexual object choice don't have a lot to do with each other got made in public. And UB is the show to do it.

Also, the obvious storylines here are both ones which raise the Alexis/Daniel rivalry issue. After her flirt with Erin at the Christmas Party, it is clear Amanda so would consider the possibility. Shiny ambitious little Amanda getting her heart broken by another Meade - that would be worth seeing and touching and funny.

The other possibility is Sofia, if Selma Hayek wants to reprise the character. After all, there is no way Daniel can forgive Sofia, and Alexis might be very chary of getting involved with the woman who screwed over her brother, yet amused by the prospect as well.

Certainly I hope to see much femslash for the show in weeks to come. I would have thought Betty unslashable, but her relationship with her future mother-in-law has distinct possibilities...

In other areas of the show, I was amused by Wil's 'Relax Evita' comment to Marc - so Wil sees herself as Peron, does she? - and by the one really good Amanda moment - when Wilhelmina catches people at the fax machine sending out resumes, Amanda eats hers...I also loved the way that Santos was torn between joy that Justin had beaten up a kid for dissing Hilda and upset that Justin kicks and scratches. I was impressed that the show refused the pity party aspect of gay kids in television - Justin can look after himself, it seems, which removes the one weak argument Santos has for trying to discourage the boy's outrageousness.

Right now, I love this show more than anything since early Jossverse. Which is scary.
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