BY Advocate Contributors
December 11 2009 6:35 PM ET
Things are getting beautiful again for the Emmy-winning comedy series Ugly Betty. Banished to a water cooler-unfriendly Friday night time slot for the first half of its fourth-season run, Betty experienced an undeserved ratings drop just as it began picking up delicious creative steam. Key plotlines so far this season have included Betty graduating from comically put-upon assistant to comically put-upon associate editor; the ever-scheming editrix Wilhelmina squaring off with her equally Machiavellian daughter; and Justin, Betty’s fashionable nephew, finally coming to terms with his sexual identity.
Credit goes to the show’s writing staff for handling this latter story line with both ripped-from-the-headlines freshness (in a recent episode, Justin was crowned prom queen at his high school) and surprising unpredictability (in the same episode, Justin announces “I’m not gay” to his sympathetic family). For gay audiences, Justin’s story is dramatically powerful and comically relatable television that shouldn’t be missed. Fortunately, the powers that be at ABC have recently seen the (Judith) Light and are moving Betty to a more viewer-friendly Wednesday night slot at 10, beginning January 6 (tonight’s episode airs at 9).
Advocate.com chats with Ugly Betty’s executive producer Silvio Horta about making the move to Wednesdays, avoiding “jumping the shark” and navigating Justin’s coming-out story line.
Advocate.com: So, what does this move to Wednesday nights mean to you?
Silvio Horta: I think it means we’re back on the map [laughs]. We’re back on the radar. We were certainly off it for a while. I mean, Friday nights was ... you know, it wasn’t a good night for us. ABC’s hope was that our audience would follow us there and it didn’t happen. Hopefully this new night and slot will allow people to rediscover the show. I think we’ve been on a really good creative upswing of late, so hopefully everything will come together and we’ll have a shot at going beyond a fourth year.
What’s the key ingredient to keeping a show fresh after its first few seasons?
Someone once told me, “Never be afraid of holding off on stories.” Oftentimes, we’ve said, “Let’s wait and do that [story] later.” Ultimately, however, if we don’t hold off on something, we’re still able to find great stories to tell with our characters and our amazing cast. So, that’s one of the things we decided to do going into this year — to not hold back. To really tell the stories we want to tell because we don’t know how much time we have left, so let’s just do the best show possible. It’s given us a great deal of creative freedom.