Representation Is Important – How Ugly Betty succeed in creating LGBTQ characters

In a world where marriage equality is recognized across the United States and transwomen like Janet Mock and Laverne Cox are being acclaimed, though nowhere near perfect, it’s fascinating to look at media with a current perspective.

I truly believe representation is important and I believe Ugly Betty is a good example of this.

This America Ferrera led show takes a look at the inner workings of Mode magazine and the Shakespearean battle for power between the players.

Besides it being a great show in its own right one thing I felt was great about this show was how they dealt with LGBTQ issues.

Throughout the first season the audience is introduced to Justin, Betty Suarez’s nephew, who truly is the person he wants to be.

As a lover of Fashion TV he’s current on all the gossip and the hottest trends in the industry.

After his father is reintroduced in his life the first real conflict is Santos still struggles how to come to terms with his son’s identity.

But the dialogue between the parents are what believe sets this show apart.

Instead of just vilifying him as a bigot there’s realistic conversations that take place.

Hilda, Justin’s mother, points out how ludicrous he is for thinking that throwing around a football or stopping his favorite activities will prevent Justin from being gay.

This culminates in a beautiful scene where Santos stands up for his son after Justin is insulted on the subway.

This parallels with Betty’s coworker Marc.

He’s also fabulous in his own right and though it seems he is living his life freely when his mother comes into town it’s revealed he hasn’t come out to her yet.

What I love about this show is that regardless of the circumstances the writers still find humor in everything.

This is true with the episode Don’t Ask Don’t Tell with Betty posing as his girlfriend there’s great laughs from them trying to get their story straight to the evening turning into a tailspin when the lies continue to pile on.

At the conclusion of the episode after bravely defending Justin from his mom’s criticism admits his own sexuality but is rejected by his mother not wanting to accept “the real” Marc.

Lastly Betty’s boss is the editor in chief of Mode publications Daniel Meade.

His family has been mourning the loss of his older brother Alex for two years then surprisingly not all is lost.

Alex has resurfaced as Alexis.

At first I was worried how they’d treat this because though I throughly enjoy this show the portrayal of trans people in media can be callous and mean.

Luckily Ugly Betty, in my opinion, was progressive for it’s time.

Alexis is a proud, headstrong woman.

She’s every bit as determined as her brother which is refreshing.

There’s conversations about acceptance and which pronouns to use.

The show isn’t perfect there’s some disappointing terms like “shemale” thrown in sometimes but there’s still heart.

I was encouraged when Wilhelmina stood up for her and accepted her from the beginning.

I felt for her when she was scorn by her old friends and even a man who showed interest in her.

The show shows the Meade’s bond and when Daniel finally came around and wrote a beautiful letter about her it showed his growth as a man.

Ugly Betty is a roller coaster.

It’s full of drama usually seen on Papi’s telenovela but it’s truly a funny comedy with great heart and when creating LGBTQ characters they are fully fleshed out people with problems of their own and best of all are portrayed as human.

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