Last Week Wednesday, Ugly Betty aired it's final episode. I am pleased it's over as I think all TV should have a four season limit (tops!) but I am of course sad to see it go. While it had it's ups and downs this season proved to be a landmark season particularly in terms of queer visibility.
I am sure Betty herself deserves all kinds of coverage and speculation as the show was about her but all I really cared about this final season was little Justin Suarez. I thought the development of this character's coming out was groundbreaking.
It was not groundbreaking in and of itself that Justin came out.
It was not groundbreaking that Justin was a teen coming out.
It was not groundbreaking that he was a teen coming out and kissing his new boyfriend on national television.
It was groundbreaking because Justin Suarez was effeminate. He was sprightly. He was bitchy, catty, sweet, stylish, sometimes foppish. There was often very little difference between his character and Haley on Modern Family! He was a ladyboy coming out, kissing and experiencing first love. I couldn't have been more proud of both Justin and his portrayer Mark Indelicato. But mostly I was proud of UB producer and writer Silvio Horta.
Horta had the balls to bring us gay characters that were not "straight acting" or "butch" and he made us fall in love with them, identify with them and root for them. Horta managed to create a show where the not altogether masculine character could be over the top, queeny, sexual and still deserving of romance and love. How refreshing to see a little queen not only have hormones but also same said queen gets to act on those hormones! Ugly Betty broke the boundaries of what was 'palatable' (a most distasteful word) with nary a bit of self consciousness. It strut about in it's various time slots over the years, just like it's gay characters - being whoever the fuck it wanted to be.
When sweet little Justin had his first technicolor kiss, I thought, 'Jesus had this happened on Wednesday night at 9:00 when I was in highschool, my whole life woulda been a little different.' Every day that a gay marriage ban is enforced is another day that our government, our nation tells young gay people that they are not worthy of love. I am in awe of the Ugly Betty folks for telling them otherwise... and for letting them know you can be full of sass to boot.