Sunday, April 29, 2007

Yo soy (insert name here), la fea

Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin
Esti Ha'mechoeret
Verlibt in Berlin
Ne Rodis' Krasivoy
La Fea mas Bella
Yo Soy Bea
Ugly betty
Maria, I Asximi

What do all these have in common? They are the remake of Columbian telenovela, Yo soy Betty, la fea which ran succesfully from 1999-2000 to rave reviews from both critics and viewer. Despite the obvious differences in cultural nuances, these 9, count them, there are 9, remakes have essentially the same storyline: An intelligent, yet socially challengened and physically unattractive young woman, in her early to late twneties (depending on the series) has trouble finding a job because, despite her outstanding curriculum vitae, she fails to impress any potential employer because of her looks (or lack thereof) She eventually finds employment in the most unlikliest of places, be it at a fashion magazine, a modeling agency or a posh advertising firm (again, this is dependant on the series.)
Typically, she is placed as the secretary of a young urban, very attractive professional, with an equally attractive girlfriend (who, through creative camera angles and menacing music, we are quickly informed will be the romantic rival of our Betty...or Maria... or Lotte or whatever)
While first disgusted by her looks, her boss eventually learns to appreciate her work ethic, kind heart and loyalty to him. But he also possesses a sinister side, one capable of making her believe that he loves her to get something out of her (money, loyalty, etc). While unaware of his plans, our heroine is on cloud 9, and we're right up there with her. He loves her. He HAS to.
But all of a sudden she finds out that the dream she had been living is all a lie. Her heart breaks and ours does for her. He never really loved her, he was only using her. Suddenly, our girl, who was made to feel like the most beautiful girl in the world, realizes how ugly she really is.
Why is it that in at least 9 different countries with 9 different cultures the same storyline seems to hit some sort of chord that translates into the series being an instant hit? The answer is obvious- because we all love a Cinderella story. Except that we secretly resent the fact that Cinderella does not have upperlip hair, a unibrow and severe myopia. OF COURSE the prince would fall in love with her floor-scrubbing ass. She's Cinderella! The fairest of them all! but what about the rest of us who can't be Cinderella cause we wear size nine shoes? What about the 73% of us that wear a size 14 or above and can't find ways to measure up?

I say to all you Betty's, Maria's, Jassi's, Lisa's, Lotte's, Letti's, Bea's, etc. Keep your heads up:

Eventually, our sinister young urban, very attractive professional, with an equally attractive girlfriend realizes that he really IS in love with our girl, (BEFORE she gets the makeover, no less). But she, being the kick ass heroine that she is gets the makeover anyway, just so she can fuck with his head. Until finally, in the last 3 episodes, she lets him out of his misery.


(now enjoy the lovely montage of all the versions, set, of course, to Britney Spears)

Sunday, April 22, 2007