Forwarded from Anthony (Betty La Fea)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Mar 12 19:06:44 MST 2001

Hi Lou:

There’s lots of political news from Colombia - but I thought all of you
literateurs probably need a dose of Kultur Konkret in the form of a review
of Betty La Fea. (Please forgive my French, and my German, although Gunter
Grass’ magazine was pretty f*** good - even if I wasn’t always sure I
understood it.)

Betty La Fea is hot stuff everywhere people speak Spanish. It is the number
one rated soap opera in all of Latin America, and on Spanish language TV in
the USA. Even the Washington Post and New York Times have reviewed it: Move
over Days of Our Lives, watch out reality TV.

Betty is an ugly duckling story, retold and recast in 21st century
Colombia. But this Betty not only becomes a swan, she becomes bourgeois!

Robespierre would have loved this show, believe me. Mary Todd Lincoln, too.
(I’m not sure about Abe.)

Here’s the plot.

Betty, an ugly but smart young woman from the downwardly mobile Colombian
petty bourgeoisie grabs top university honors in economics and bizniz admin
but can’t land a job. Bad economy and war. She lowers her expectations and
takes a job as a secretary.

BUT! The guy who hires her is the desperate, playboy scion of a high
fashion house who has taken over the family biz at a moment of high crisis
- and doesn’t have a rat’s ass of an idea of what to do.

His girlfriend is the high society daughter of his father’s dead partner.
She is one smart, and very Jealous BITCH. Also an executive at the company.

HE uses Betty to run a scam on company creditors - but in doing so puts her
legally in control of all company assets. OOPs!!

To control Betty his buddy recommends seduction. He holds his nose, puts
his family fortune first, and ---- she falls for him.

BUT - the plan goes awry, and aglee (aft gang). HE falls for her, tambien.
OOPs again.

BUT, Betty is one smart gal and runs the company better than anyone on the
planet, even a Harvard MBA, could ever have been expected to.

In the meantime various subplots unfold involving: the other secretaries
(Las Feas); the messenger boy; the ABSOLUTE BITCH - who is a very
downwardly mobile and blonde bourgeois BITCH now slumming as a secretary
and Betty’s rival of sorts; Betty’s nerd male (not boyfriend) friend who
pretends to be Betty’s boyfriend; the extremely fem gay designer; assorted
executives including one who speaks hilarious Spanglais; betty’s uptight
traditionalist parents, and more.

In the end Betty is made President of the company, and decides it should
design clothes for ugly women (read NORMALLY shaped women). Gay designer
gags, but goes along. Jealous bitch fumes. Scion desperately tries to win
Betty back - so far to no avail. Nerd tries to win BLONDE bitch by buying
her repossessed Mercedes.

The theme song is a Tango (popular around Medellin as well as around the
Rio de la Plata) song in the style of Edith Piaf.

But, what accounts for the popularity of this soap?

Small "d" democratic consciousness with a feminist twist. Optimism when
there is good reason for pessimism. Plus good acting, high production
values, good writing with a sly sense of humor.

Betty expresseds the least common denominator consciousness of urban Colombia.

I recommend watching it if you want to understand what is going on in this


Louis Proyect
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