The most successful TV soap opera in history is back. On July 6, Amazon Prime confirmed that Ugly Betty will return for a third season in 2024. In a recently released video that put an end to all the rumors, Ana María Orozco let out the distinctive laugh of Beatriz Pinzon Solano, the “ugly” young woman who showed up to work one day at the Ecomoda fashion house over 20 years ago. “Everyone wants to hear that laugh again,” said Jorge Enrique Abello, who plays her partner, Don Armando.
Ugly Betty was an instant hit when it first aired on Colombian television from 1999-2001. It followed the classic telenovela storyline: a humble secretary falls in love with her rich, womanizing boss. But there was one big difference: Betty was an awkward and plain woman with a grating voice that everyone ridiculed. Still, audiences wholeheartedly embraced and adored her, not only in Colombia but in over 100 countries around the world. “Betty’s looks are the key to the success of this soap opera that airs right after the daily dose of violence on the news,” said a 2001 review in EL PAÍS.
Fernando Gaitán’s telenovela has continued to captivate audiences unlike any other. Its reruns consistently dominated ratings, captivated new generations and inspired over 20 international adaptations like Yo soy Bea in Spain, La fea más bella in Mexico and Ugly Betty in the United States. According to Amazon Prime, it has been streamed in 180 countries and continues to rank among the 10-most-watched shows in Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Colombia. Netflix previously held the streaming rights, but now Betty has moved over to Amazon Prime.
The title character became a powerful advocate for the meek and mild, igniting social discussions on prejudices and barriers that impede economic and social advancement. “Ugly Betty is a rich catalog of our society’s archetypes: the classists, the sexists, the self-sacrificing, the cunning, the marginalized, the corrupt – we can find them all here,” said a 2019 editorial in El Tiempo. “The recent history of Latin America shares a striking resemblance to Betty’s journey. What was once an economically and socially unattractive region is gradually transforming into a more enchanting and appealing destination,” wrote Moisés Naím in EL PAÍS in 2008, back when the region’s future looked brighter.
Featuring a woman in a key role who didn’t fit conventional beauty standards was groundbreaking back in the late 1990s. However, the final episode received severe backlash because Betty and Don Armando only become a couple once she undergoes a makeover to conform to societal norms of beauty.
Rumors about Betty’s potential comeback after a 20-year-hiatus started heating up a few months ago. During an interview with journalist Carlos Ochoa in April, actor Mario Duarte, who portrayed Betty’s closest friend, sparked even more public anticipation. “The idea is there on paper. I think everyone is talking about it,” said Duarte. “But we still have these couple of months – May and June – where I think it either comes together or gets set aside. I don’t know, anyway, it’s a really big and ambitious project.”
The third season remains shrouded in mystery, with only a handful of details teasing what lies ahead. Produced by Colombia’s Estudios RCN, the new episodes will be streamed in more than 240 countries. Betty’s relationship with her daughter, Mila, is about to take center stage as they navigate through an all-consuming crisis at the family business. “Betty wonders whether the path she has chosen in life has really made her happy,” hinted the Amazon Prime press release.
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