Ugly Betty

TV review by
Lucy Maher, Common Sense Media
Ugly Betty TV Poster Image
Underdog heroine is a model of charm and appeal.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 17 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 39 reviews

We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series sends positive messages about having a strong sense of self, having a strong work ethic, and the importance of family. A major theme is integrity,

Positive Role Models & Representations

Enthusiastic, dedicated, optimistic Betty is a great role model for girls. Betty's co-workers can be very petty, mean, and sneaky.

Violence

Back-biting and scheming, but no violence (except to a stuffed bunny...).

Sex

Betty's boss, Daniel, is a womanizer who has no qualms about sleeping with his co-workers and getting sexual favors in the office -- but virtually all of his shenanigans are implied rather than shown (some scenes show him in a rumpled bed, another scene implies an indiscretion during work hours, etc.). Some female characters wear tight and/or revealing clothes. One character is transgendered.

Language

Pretty mild: "Bitch," etc.

Consumerism

The world of Mode magazine is a very materialistic one, but most brands and designer names are fictional.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ugly Betty is an hour-long comedy set in the competitive, materialistic world of a high-fashion magazine called Mode. Several characters -- most of whom are pretty over-the-top -- consequently exhibit poor values and iffy behavior (scheming, corporate one-upmanship, petty meanness to those who don't fit in, etc.). By comparison, delightful main character Betty stands out like a cheerful, hardworking beacon. Unabashedly proud of her working-class roots and eclectic taste in clothes and accessories, Betty is a great role model for teen girls who worry about fitting in.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11 year old Written by1MAR April 3, 2011

Ugly Betty

I saw a few episodes of this show and I'm not pleased. Although Betty is trying to set a good example, there is too much sexual content and themes that are... Continue reading
Adult Written byhappy77801 April 9, 2008

a

I love this show. I watch with my 13-year-old daughter, and we both love it. Betty is so strong to stay working at the fashion magazine, not exactly being a mod... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byAwalkeratCSM March 30, 2011

Parents of teens, be on your guard!

Seven episodes in, I'm starting to get disgusted. It seems like in every movie, and TV show there has to be sex, sex, sex! Why?! Even sweet Betty can'... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byshopping is hiking March 5, 2010

A PG-13 kinda TV show, but if you're a mature 12-year old, it works

Ugly Betty is an absolute favorite show of mine! Again, there isn't too too much "office humor" and the relationships between Betty and all the o... Continue reading

What's the story?

Executive produced by Salma Hayek and based on the wildly popular Colombian telenovela Yo Soy Betty La Fea, UGLY BETTY stars America Ferrera as optimistic, focused Betty Suarez. Betty -- who wants to be a serious journalist -- accepts a job assisting Mode magazine's playboy editor-in-chief Daniel Meade (Eric Mabius). At first, Daniel does everything he can to make her life miserable, but he quickly realizes that he can't run the magazine without her, and the incongruous pair become a team. Furious about being passed over for the editor-in-chief job, creative director Wilhelmina Slater (Vanessa Williams) will do anything to bring Daniel -- and, by extension, Betty -- down. In her ring are toadying assistant Marc (Michael Urie) and evil receptionist Amanda (Becki Newton), who's sleeping with Daniel and wants Betty's job. Rounding out the cast are Christina (Ashley Jensen), the on-site seamstress who shows Betty the ropes and acts as her confidant and guardian angel; Hilda (Ana Ortiz), Betty's outspoken older sister; and Justin (Mark Indelicato), Betty's hilariously fashion-obsessed nephew.

Is it any good?

The show's writing and acting are both top-notch, and there are giggles to be found at every turn. In one scene, for example, Betty admires a model's beautiful Dolce & Gabbana poncho and chummily tells the woman that her father bought her a similar one in Guadalajara ... only to show up the next day proudly wearing a gaudy, blanket-like garment that has "souvenir" written all over it. Coming to TV on the heels of The Devil Wears Prada, Ugly Betty is wildly fun fare that takes the Prada premise and ups the ante -- unlike Anne Hathaway's Andy, Betty never bows to the pressure to turn herself into one of the skeletal, glam automatons who sashay through Mode's hallways.

Ugly Betty has enough ongoing drama to satisfy older viewers, but, unlike other soapy shows, it spends an equal amount of time on "everyday" storylines like Betty's heartwarming relationship with her father. Although the show has a few risqué scenes that might raise parental eyebrows, including one in which Daniel's receptionist is caught under his desk (presumably pleasuring him), Ferrara's stellar performance outweighs them. Betty is clearly the most admirable character on the show, and her positive qualities just make the other characters' failings more obvious -- even to younger teens. Bottom line? Ugly Betty is a must-see.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Betty's impressive optimism in Ugly Betty. How does she stay so positive in such a hostile environment? How can you deal with tricky work situations (harassment, nasty co-workers) in the real world?

  • Besides her outward appearance, what else sets her apart from most of her Mode co-workers? What gave her such a good work ethic? What role does her family play in her life? What makes her a good role model for real girls and young women?

  • How does Betty demonstrate integrity in Ugly Betty? Why is this an important character strength?

TV details

Character Strengths

Find more TV shows that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love smart girls

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate