Everyone Loves Ugly Betty

by flickr user roniweb used under Creative Commons license


ABC may be looking to wash its hands of Ugly Betty (returning to TV this Friday with a two-hour premiere), but the formula that provided America Ferrera with perpetual braces and Salma Hayek with a small screen career is not about to give up that easily. Adapted from the insanely successful Colombian telenovela, Yo Soy Betty, La Fea, Ugly Betty has spawned a small army of imitators, from the Philippines to China, Brazil to Germany. 

Despite the telenovela’s relative obscurity in the English-speaking US, they have a long history of international success. Adapted for Indian TV in the 1980s, the Latin American soaps have enjoyed significant popularity in parts of Africa and the former Soviet Union. But none has been as well-received (or as frequently copied) as the story of Beatriz Aurora Pinzon Solano, the original Betty protagonist of the 1999 Colombian serial. In anticipation of Ugly Betty‘s Friday premiere, here are a few of the best adaptations of Betty: 

Israel: “Ugly Esti”

 India: “There’s No One like Jassi”

Russia: “Be Born Not Pretty”

Vietnam: “Lady Ugly”

China: “Ugly Without Rival”

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  • Sonja Sharp is a journalist in New York and former Mother Jones editorial fellow.