You know, I didn’t realize how intense I was about my pairing preferences until the ax fell on Ugly Betty. I was just re-reading The Soapbox I wrote up for our April 20 issue of Soap Opera Weekly, and it’s like I might as well have “I heart Daniel and Betty” tattooed on my forehead. I got so wound up by the idea that they might not end up together that I had to rant about it in print! Wowza!
Now, with some distance, and the series finale approaching in six days, I’m amused that I reacted that way. I didn’t even watch UB every week for its four season run. In fact, I can safely say that I missed at least half of the third season. So, what the hell, Dude? I mean, I don’t usually get intense about a couple having a “happily ever after” on TV. (Except As the World Turns‘ Simon and Katie. We all know by now that I’m obsessed with them.) I tend to think that stories don’t really have endings, so you can imagine whatever you want happening after the end credits or the last page of a novel. So canon can stand firm, but your imagination can freely pick up where it leaves off. But I’ll be damned if Daniel and Betty didn’t somehow become another exception to the rule.
They crept up on me, probably because I assumed we’d have several seasons to watch them go from friends to lovers, so learning they had more like five episodes to get there was a shock to the system. But the great thing about this particular pair is that even with a rushed timetable, I don’t think a relationship is out of left field. Ugly Betty hasn’t just been a show about Betty’s transformation, but also that of everyone around her. (Except, as my colleagues Michael and Joe pointed out, Wilhemina, who is still as heinous as ever!) We’ve watched Daniel go from only caring about having a model on his arm to becoming someone who values what a woman has on the inside. And I firmly believe that his snooze-worthy pairing with Molly last season, as well as Betty’s with “Daniel Lite,” Matt, were a way for the writers to test the Detty waters.
So, in this week’s episode, it wasn’t just Claire and Willie who fell headfirst into the pool. Daniel did, too. (Beware of spoilers below!)
I think over the course of the show’s trajectory, we’ve seen Daniel come to rely on and respect Betty. She’s his right arm, his kick in the pants, and knows his heart better than he does. By the same token, he knows hers…and it was wonderful to watch him realize that he loves her before she does. I think that, to me, speaks volumes about how in tune with the characters and their story the writers have become. Daniel’s jealousy of Henry, his realizing that he wants a girlfriend with a brain…and then his thunderstruck “Ah-ha!” moment at Hilda’s wedding reception as Hilda talked about what love means…it was all perfect. Because, for Daniel, relationships with women are a hugely defining part of his life. Whereas for Betty, her goals are more career-oriented. It makes sense that she’s going to be the last one to figure out that the option to be involved with Daniel is even on the table. He’s Daniel, her dorky boss, her best friend, and someone who is always dating some vapid, hot chick.
It’ll be really interesting to see how things play out in the series finale: whether Daniel will be able to articulate his feelings before Betty goes away to London and how Betty will react to a revelation that, if you really think about it, isn’t much of a revelation at all. But no matter what happens between them, it’s been a fairly beautiful ride!