Ugly Betty's Cancellation "A Major Loss" For Diversity On Television

The last episode of Ugly Betty will air in less than a week, but many are already mourning the loss of one of the few shows on television to depict a Latino family.

Ugly Betty will wrap up the final season on April 14th. The hour-long dramedy had been on the air since 2006, when the world was first introduced to the Suarez family and the staff at fictional fashion magazine Mode. This season also saw a huge milestone, as the fashion-obsessed, super-fey Justin was finally given his coming out moment (complete with a dance! And an adorable first kiss). Our sister site Defamer has already discussed the significance of television's recent spate of gay teens, but the celebration of his coming out - and the way in which it is greeted - is a milestone for gay rights. Jarett Barrios, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, told AP that the storyline reminds viewers that "a gay teen is also a son, a nephew, a grandson." He continued, "as a man who is both Latino and gay (and a father), I liked the show because it depicted really my own experience and that of so many others in the United States."

But as Richard pointed out, gay teens are having a bit of a moment right now. Unfortunately, Latino families are not. Ugly Betty was one of the few shows on television to center around an immigrant family. "Having this family at the center of the show made it normal to watch a Latino family in a non-stereotypical way," wrote America Ferrera in an email about the show's cancellation. Lisa Navarrete, a vice president for the National Council of La Raza, points out: "You don't have a lot of Latino-themed shows on TV, so when we lose 'Ugly Betty,' we will have a major loss." Nararrete praises the immigration plot lines, which, despite its sillyness, showed a reality not often seen on prime time TV.

Ugly Betty also had one more thing going for it: it was a show built around a strong female character and focused primarily on her work and family, not her sex life. While there were some annoying things about the show (pretending America Ferrera is anything close to ugly got really old, really fast), it featured characters that are often relegated to the role of sidekick or stereotype. And that is probably the greatest loss. But like Ferrera, we can be thankful that Betty was even given a chance; "In Hollywood there's a certain role that women fill, and it's usually to be eye candy. I'm pretty lucky that I've gotten to play parts that - like Betty - ask what a woman has to offer if she's not perfect and beautiful," she told Time.


ABC's 'Ugly Betty' Broke Ground For Latinos, Gays
[AP]
10 Questions For America Ferrera [Time]