Saturday, January 3, 2015

Jenn's Pick: My Top 15 Daniel/Betty Moments


When I began marathoning Ugly Betty, I was certain of two things: 1) I loved Betty Suarez as a stong, independent female character and 2) I was falling head-over-heels in love with the relationship between Daniel and Betty. When people "ship" couples on television series, they usually do so because they enjoy the chemistry or sexual tension between the individuals and between the actors. And that's not a wrong reason to root for a relationship between two characters, really. But as I watched the friendship and partnership grow between Daniel and Betty over the course of four seasons, I realized that the reason I shipped them was fundamentally rooted in the fact that these characters were each others' best friends. My love of them is founded on the fact that Daniel will move heaven and earth to protect Betty and that Betty will always be there to support Daniel, even when he doesn't know he needs supporting. I think that's completely and utterly beautiful, really.

Daniel and Betty always had obstacles in their friendship, but somehow -- slowly -- those dissolved until eventually all that was left was each other. And while I would have liked to see another season full of Betty's London adventures with Daniel, I think that the show ended their relationship in a very hopeful place and a very organic place for it to continue to grow in an entirely new way. The majority of the series consisted of Betty working FOR Daniel, which was not problematic, really, because they became so close that their relationship wasn't just that of a boss and an employee. No, the relationship between Daniel and Betty was so lovely and heartfelt and honest, that it is difficult to walk away from Ugly Betty and not root for them as a romantic pairing. If the best friendships supposedly start from friendships, then by "Hello Goodbye," Daniel and Betty are on track for an amazing life together.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Below, let's discuss fifteen of my favorite Daniel/Betty moments, shall we? Add your own to the comments section below and continue the conversation. :)

15. "I need you."



What I said above rings true: I think that the relationship between Daniel and Betty was always rooted in their need for one another and their utter respect for each other. They weren't just friends in this series, though they constantly mention the fact that they are. They were more than that. They were partners. They relied on each other. They had each others' backs. They trusted each other and protected each other. They weren't just people who worked together and Betty wasn't just some assistant -- she became his moral compass, always pointing him toward what was right. And, after a little while, Daniel didn't need her as his compass anymore. Daniel Meade really and truly grew over the course of this series into a strong, compassionate, truly loving person. Contrast him and his selfless behavior in "Hello Goodbye" with his playboy self in the pilot, won't you? And what I loved so much about Daniel/Betty was their reliance and dependence on each other and compassion.

In "The Final Issue," Molly -- Daniel's wife, who had cancer -- died suddenly. It was a completely heartbreaking moment because I had grown to really love Molly and the fact that she was so strong and, in turn, made Daniel stronger and better. When Daniel learns that Molly has died, he texts three simple words to Betty: "I need you." It was so gutting to watch Daniel break down on the steps in grief over Molly, and equally heartbreaking to know that the only person he wanted there -- that he NEEDED there -- was Betty. This isn't a "feels"-inducing shippy moment. It's tragic but it's the perfect example of how close Daniel and Betty became throughout the series. Betty was his best friend and in that moment, he didn't need his family and he didn't need someone to tell him it would be okay. He knew Betty well enough to know that she wouldn't do that -- that when she showed up, she would just hug him and let him cry.

And that, my friends, is a beautiful kind of relationship.

14. "I can't imagine being here without you. I'm biased, sorry."

I didn't really love Henry as a love interest for Betty. At the beginning, he was geeky and endearing but then every time he reappeared, drama ensued. (My friend Deborah likens him to a drama boomerang in that way.) And so when Betty began to date Gio, I was thrilled. Gio was sarcastic and witty and he was the kind of challenging that Betty needed in her life. Unfortunately for Betty, Henry returned and proposed marriage to her (and asked her to move to Tuson with him afterward) at the same time Gio proposed that she accompany him to Rome. And there was Betty with a life-altering decision to make... turning to Daniel for advice.

I really love that Betty occasionally does this because it's such a role-reversal from what typically happened in the series. Daniel giving Betty advice or a pep talk was always so welcome because all of his advice derived from a place of wanting what was best for her. The light humor in this scene, of course, is that Daniel selfishly wants her to stay because he cannot imagine life at MODE without her. It's this little thing that he says which would come across as off-handed in another show but is completely genuine in this one coming from this particular character. Daniel never COULD imagine life at MODE without Betty and there are a few moments in which he tries to and can never quite bring himself to reconciliation with the idea of losing her from his life.

Basically, before Daniel ever loved Betty, he at least knew that he NEEDED Betty in his life.

13. "You're destined for bigger things than this."



In the first season, Betty wasn't as close to Daniel as she was -- obviously -- by the end of the series. Daniel saw her as his well-meaning, occasionally lecturing, boldly-fashioned assistant who tried to do her best to look out for him and his well-being. Because that is what a good assistant did, right? But in "Fake Plastic Snow," Daniel and Betty prepared to part as boss and assistant and I think that the reality of Betty's purpose and presence in his life finally hit Daniel. And I think that the reality of how much Daniel meant to her -- his confidence in her and his trust in her and his treatment of her -- finally hit Betty, too. That is why their goodbye scene is prolonged and tearful. It's why he tells Betty that she is destined for bigger things than MODE. He believes it, don't get me wrong, but you can tell how painful it is for them both to part with each other. And I think that speaks volumes about their relationship in this first season.

They're being separated right as they're getting to know, respect, and really care about each other. And that is what makes their goodbye so heartbreaking and so much more meaningful (especially when he gives Betty her present -- her own set of business cards).

12. The Daniel/Betty fight. ("I've punched out.")



So, throughout the course of Ugly Betty, we don't see too many Daniel/Betty fights. We see little spats and occasional arguments, but I think "Punch Out" is the only time we ever really see Daniel and Betty intensely mad at each other. Actually, it's DANIEL who is mad -- Daniel who is hurting and DANIEL who lashes out at Betty. The reason that this is such a painful fight for Betty is because while Daniel is yelling at her, he's treating her like she's nothing more than his employee. He tells her to leave her concern for him at the office and to "punch out" at the end of the day. That stings Betty, obviously, because it means that -- in that moment -- Daniel doesn't treat her like a person he has a real and genuine relationship with. He treats her like anyone and everyone else at MODE and it hurts Betty. It hurts her because she thought that Daniel cared about their friendship and that he saw her as someone he actively wanted in his life, not a nuisance.

You can tell that Daniel regrets the words he says and at the end of the episode, when Daniel gets himself into a world of trouble, the first person he calls is Betty. He calls the person that he knows he actually needs in his life. But Betty is still hurting and contemplating his angry words. She wonders aloud at the end of the episode whether or not she is too trusting and it's heartbreaking to see her start to cry, not because of Daniel's words but because she had gone through so much with him and felt like their fight -- his dismissal of her -- negated all of the things they had gone through together not as boss and employee but as friends.

In a moment of strength (and a bit of anger), Betty tells her father to pass along the message to Daniel that she "punched out" for the night. It stings us almost as much as it stings Daniel to have Betty turn his back on him (almost.) As a related aside, the next episode features Daniel telling Betty: "I need you," which is like... a theme of theirs, so.

7. Daniel's six page recommendation letter.

The first draft of Daniel's recommendation letter to Betty was longer than six pages. LONGER THAN THAT. What is so important about this moment is the fact that Daniel messed up. He made a mistake and it presumably was part of the reason that Betty didn't get into Y.E.T.I. And so, since Daniel felt guilty, he helped Betty get into the editor program. It's not the biggest or most significant gesture he has ever made on her behalf, but I find it so touching that Daniel took the time to write her recommendation letter and to not just write it but to do it RIGHT. I want to know what he filled six pages with, but I presume it's full of gushing about how capable, smart, dedicated, and talented she is and how they would be fools to not accept her into their program.

Basically, I just love that the first draft of Daniel's recommendation letter was probably the length of a required essay for a class in college because it reminds me -- and us all -- of the fact that Daniel isn't just about empty gestures when it comes to the important people in his life; if he cares about you and REALLY cares about you, he will show it constantly.

10. Daniel's constant protection of Betty. ("The Butterfly Effect: Part 2"/"Tornado Girl"/"Pilot," etc.)



In the pilot episode, Daniel Meade was a tool. No, he was worse than a tool: he was a tool who was easily influenced by other tools. And so, when Daniel's friend tried to convince him to humilate Betty as a way to get her to quit so that he could have a super hot assistant again... Daniel listened. But what happened at the fashion shoot was this: Daniel Meade grew a conscience and a voice. He had always had a conscience, of course, but had allowed other people to dictate his choices his entire life. In the first season of Ugly Betty (and beyond), we get the opportunity to watch Daniel grow as a person. We see him form his own convictions and beliefs and we learn that when you strip away part of his ego, he's actually a really good guy. He's compassionate and kind; he's genuinely smart and passionate about what he does. He falls into temptations and petty arguments and competition, but he learns from his mistakes and actually tries to become a better person not for anyone else in his life but for himself.

And we see, quite beautifully, that every moment after the pilot, Daniel works to protect Betty whatever the price. I think part of that is due to guilt: he feels horrible for the way that he initially treated her and makes every effort to never do anything close to that to her again. But what I think is MORE true is this: Daniel just began to care about Betty so much that being her protector became his second nature. And you can see throughout the series ("Tornado Girl," for instance) when Daniel fails to protect Betty, he doesn't just feel guilty about it. He remedies his mistake. HE takes the blame for the magazine cover and HE throws himself to the media so that they will stop making fun of her. (You can see him, in the sea of photographers at the end of the episode desperately looking for her face and then mouthing "I'm sorry" to her). Daniel Meade would do anything to protect Betty Suarez, and that is just the truth. In "The Butterfly Effect: Part 2," he punches Matt (we all cheered... right?) because he was treating Betty like crap. And in "The Past Presents the Future," Daniel gives Henry a bad recommendation because he's trying to prevent Betty from being hurt by Henry again.

What I love so much about the Daniel/Betty pairing is that a lot of their relationship is rooted on this notion that Daniel will always protect and look out for Betty, no matter how grand or trivial the problem. He will stop people from making fun of her. He will punch people who treat her like crap. He will sacrifice his own wants and desires so that she can walk away from a scandal unscatched. He genuinely loves her and it's not even until later on that Daniel realizes all that he does for Betty without a second thought? (Because he always protects Betty WITHOUT EVEN THINKING ABOUT IT. It's THAT second nature to him.) That's love.

9. The average model fashion show.



In "Zero Worship," Betty desperately tries to convince Daniel to use real models in fashion week -- women who are all shapes and sizes, who aren't super skinny or conventionally attractive. And when he fails to deliver because Alexis wields power above him at the magazine, Betty is disappointed, not just in him but in the idea that life could somehow be better for girls then than they were for her. There's a heartbreaking little story that Betty tells Daniel earlier in the episode about how she used to wear an oversized t-shirt to the pool because she was so self-conscious about her body. And she would get made of fun of for wearing it, too. So when Daniel tells Betty that he cannot feature normal models in his fashion show, the young woman asks whether or not he even cared about the show to begin with or whether his agreement to do it had more to do with PR for the magazine than anything else. Daniel doesn't immediately respond and when he looks up from his desk at Betty, he sees the girl she once was in that oversized t-shirt.

And he cries.

I think that's one of the most powerful things about "Zero Worship," to be honest: that Daniel cries because he doesn't see Betty as the assistant who got the job at MODE, but as the young girl who still hates what she sees when she looks in the mirror and still hurts because people don't think she's beautiful. THAT is what Daniel needed to be motivated to care about the show. He needed to see what life had been like -- what it is still like -- for Betty and girls like her so that he could be part of a change and ensure that women like Betty didn't grow up thinking they were ugly, but grew up believing they were beautiful. Daniel has always cared about protecting Betty but I think the entire fashion show was a way for him to understand her and to try to make the world better for girls who would grow up to BE her.

(And he literally puts on the fashion show for her. Like, he says so when he delivers an invitation to her door and if your heart didn't grow three sizes at THAT moment, then maybe it did when Betty walked down the runway and Daniel cheered or when they linked arms on the catwalk after the show ended. YOU KNOW.)

8. Bradford's final words to Betty.


I need you to do something for me. Take care of Daniel. I won't be here. [...] I remember seeing you walk into the building that first day. I had a feeling about you. You're the only one who's ever been able to keep Daniel on his path. He'd be lost without you.
Lest anyone ever forget, Bradford was the person who hired Betty to be Daniel's assistant. And for the longest time, we all -- Betty included -- presumed that he did so in order to keep Daniel from following the same pattern he always did with his assistants (the pattern being sleeping with them). But in "You See Me, I.C.U.," Bradford talks to Betty while on his deathbed and tells the young woman the truth about her: that from the moment he saw her, he knew there was something special about her. He didn't know what it was, but he didn't look at her and see someone who was unattractive. He saw someone who had potential and something to give MODE and, more importantly, something to give Daniel. I think it's interesting that we didn't see a whole lot of Bradford and Betty's relationship, but that the most important interaction between them came at the end of his life. He made Betty promise him that she would take care of Daniel and he did so with such gentleness and understanding. Both Bradford and Claire Meade (though the latter to a much greater extent that will be discussed later on) both understood how important Betty was to Daniel and how necessary it was for them to have each other in life.

And so, Bradford's final words to Betty were instructions -- a request, really. He knew Daniel better than Daniel believed. He knew that Daniel NEEDED Betty. He knew that Daniel would be aimless and lost without her. It is such a painful but poignant moment between Bradford and Betty because he knows that he is dying and the final thing he requests is that his children be taken care of. Mr. Meade and Betty never had a lot of poignant moments but this one is so important because it exemplifies the fact that EVERYONE in Daniel and Betty's lives recognized their connection and its importance.

And after Bradford passes, Betty ensures that she seeks out Alexis and Daniel. Betty comforts him in the same way that she will after Molly's passing -- with wordless support and a physical gesture. Bradford's promise exemplified the fact that he recognized how special and important Betty was to Daniel. Moreover, he recognized how much Daniel needed her, how much better he was WITH her, and how strong they were together. That, my dear readers -- as the kids say -- is "how you OTP."

7. "I think I need to let her go."


 

Remember how earlier I noted that Daniel couldn't live without Betty? (A fact that he states in "Hello Goodbye," actually, and I am so mad that we never see Betty's full reaction to that statement and the rest of their conversation.) Daniel needs Betty. He truly and desperately needs her and so every time there is an opportunity for her to leave, he expresses how much he wants her to stay. He tells her that he's biased and that he cannot be at MODE without her. Let me just pause to note that Daniel never connected the dots -- the idea that what he's felt for Betty for a long time has been LOVE -- before Hilda's wedding. Betty is more than Daniel's friend and everyone at MODE can sense that. They know that these two people are partners, that they are so intimately connected that it's almost as if they function as one unit sometimes. And it utterly terrifies Daniel to think that he could lose Betty, that she would no longer be a part of him and his life, that he tries to get her to stay, even in "Hello Goodbye."

But when Betty decides to leave MODE and move to London, Daniel finally realizes the inevitable: he's losing her. And so Claire -- lovely and wonderful Claire -- asks if he is going to talk to her before she leaves; if he's willing to tell her how much she means to him and how much he cares about her. Because that would be the fulfillment of the trope, right? If Daniel finally came to the realization that he loved Betty and ran to the party to tell her how he felt about her. Then Betty would stay at MODE and they would be happy together forever. The end. But I love that Ugly Betty frequently subverted tropes, especially those involving romance, and instead allowed Daniel's heartbreaking "I think I need to let her go" be a moment of selflessness (painful selflessness, but selflessness no less). Because I think that Daniel realized he COULD tell Betty how he felt. He knew, at that point, that he was in love with her. And he always told her how he couldn't live without her and couldn't be at MODE without her. This would have been his trope-fulfilling moment -- the happy ending. But instead, Daniel Meade was completely selfless, realizing that it was more important for Betty to leave and embark on her own adventures than to stay because of HIM. He wasn't going to be the one to stand between her and her future -- he couldn't do that to her. He couldn't be the reason that she stayed and in this moment, you can just tell how much he wants to talk to her, but how much he knows he needs to finally let her have a chance at happiness, even if it hurts him in the process.

BECAUSE THAT IS LOVE.

6. Claire Meade: Captain of the Ship

I love Judith Light and I absolutely adored her in Ugly Betty. Claire Meade was such an interesting and complex character. Unlike Wilhelmina who merely schemed for the sake of scheming and undermining often, Claire's schemes and plans were usually enacted to take care of her family -- and she would do anything in the world to protect them. What's really great, too, is that Betty became like family to Claire almost immediately. Their relationship grew throughout the course of the seasons and it was beautiful to see Betty confide in Claire and Claire love and support Betty like a daughter. Bradford and Alexis always knew to an extent how important Betty was to Daniel but I think Claire is the only one in the family who knew exactly HOW much Betty meant to him. And throughout the series, you could tell that she was rooting for Daniel to figure out how he felt about her. In "The Past Presents the Future" and "Hello Goodbye," Claire vocalizes the fact that Daniel may have feelings for Betty. Daniel and Betty both brush her off, but the woman knows, y'all. I think that she's watched their relationship evolve and have watched how often Daniel protects Betty and how much Betty has grown as a person while still remaining true to herself. And I think that she knows.

Claire watched their relationship unfold and during "Hello Goodbye," she tells Betty that losing her is difficult for Daniel -- more difficult because, as the woman insinuates, he has feelings for her. It's not just about losing an assistant or losing a friend and Claire knows that. It's not even about losing a best friend. It's about losing the woman that Daniel has been slowly falling in love with. And for Betty? For Betty, it's about losing her other half. Claire Meade knows this better than anyone because she's been able to watch their relationship grow and evolve. Truthfully, Claire has always been so supportive of and drawn to Betty because she sees her goodness and her honesty and how she makes Daniel's life better. That is why Claire Meade is obviously the captain of the Daniel/Betty ship.

5. Betty gets her braces off.




I absolutely love the moment in "Million Dollar Smile" where Betty gets her braces off and the moments leading up to it where Daniel reassures Betty by placing his hand on her arm as she makes the decision to remove them. And when Betty finally gets them off, Daniel is the first person who sees her. Daniel has already told her that she is beautiful, remember? He told her that before her hair got straighter and before she got new glasses. And when he sees Betty without the wires on her teeth, he cannot help but stop for a moment and stare. He stares for so long and with such a different expression on her face that Betty cannot read him -- Betty, who knows all of his expressions, cannot tell what he is thinking. So when Betty asks if something is wrong, Daniel has to pause and determine what he wants to say. And when he does finally find words, he tells her that she looks great -- the same thing he tells her at the wedding a few episodes later.

And Daniel smiles, adorably, because how could he not? Now everyone can see what he has seen for years: that Betty truly is beautiful, not ugly. Honestly, a few moments top this one on the list, but I loved seeing a visible reaction in Daniel in regards to Betty's latest life change.

4. "You're better than any model, Betty. Much better." 



Can we just talk about this episode for a moment? First of all, it is chock full of amazing Daniel and Betty moments like the pair singing karaoke and bonding. But their heart-to-heart on the bridge at night is one of the most tender, sweet, vulnerable moments that any two characters have shared on this show. In this episode, Daniel and Betty breach the gap between boss and employee and breach the gap between friends. During "In Or Out," Daniel and Betty become something more than friends: they become confidantes. They share secrets and fears with each other. Daniel talks about his brother who died. It's the most open and honest we've ever seen Daniel Meade be with another human being. He talks about things with Betty that he is afraid to vocalize with other people -- even his own parents.

And Betty finds that she can talk about her life with Daniel because he actually listens to her and offers advice. I've talked a lot about how much Daniel needs Betty in his life throughout the post, but I haven't really gotten the chance to talk a lot about why Betty needs Daniel. Betty takes care of everyone in her life. She is the crutch that everyone relies on. Her family needs her. Her job needs her. Everyone always needs her. And Betty barely has the time to process her own emotions, much less give weight to them and allow herself to feel things. But when she and Daniel have their talk together on the bridge, she confesses her insecurities in regards to Henry and the model who kissed him at the Christmas party. Daniel looks at her honestly in that moment and gently -- really gently -- tells her that she is better than any model. Much better, he emphasizes.

This is one of the most significant Daniel/Betty moments because it's the first real and genuine moment that they have together in which Daniel tells Betty something that she doesn't believe about herself but needs to believe is truth. And unlike later on, where Daniel tells Betty that she is beautiful and she doesn't believe him, on the bridge in "In Or Out," you can see Betty smile because she has listened to Daniel make impassioned speeches before and she's heard him give pep talks. But never directly to her, really. And you can tell that she knows Daniel is sincere and that he means what he says. I absolutely love how honest these two characters are with each other and how much they genuinely care about one another and each others' feelings.

Because you know that when Daniel tells Betty she is much better than any model, he really and truly believes it.

3. Daniel moves to London to start over with Betty.




Series finales are always tricky to write. How can you possibly please everyone in your audience and give each character the closure that they deserve? I have to say though, the series finale of Ugly Betty was such a beautiful send-off to the characters and provided everyone with their own happy ending, even if it wasn't a traditional one. Betty moved to London and Daniel didn't say goodbye to her. He couldn't. It was too painful and too final, especially considering the fact that he finally realized he was in love with Betty and had been for a long time. But Daniel did what he does best -- he wrote his feelings out in a final letter to the editor and then resigned from MODE. He realized that goodbyes are not always permanent. In fact, he realized that saying goodbye also means saying hello to something new -- to a new adventure and opportunity. And when Daniel says goodbye to MODE and to New York, he says hello to London and to Betty.

In the final letter that Daniel wrote, he explained that sometimes change means keeping the people you want in your life in a new context. I love that Ugly Betty ended with Daniel and Betty moving to London because in a way, it meant that both of them had the opportunity to start fresh with each other, even after four years spent getting to know one another. Daniel fell in love with her and Betty? Well, Betty still doesn't know that in "Hello Goodbye." But I'd like to think that he got the opportunity to know Betty as someone he loved and his best friend, not as his former assistant and a co-worker. A relationship in New York would have been difficult for them. They wouldn't have been able to have a clean slate. Everyone would have known their history. But in London? In London they had the opportunity to start a new adventure... together. In whatever context they wanted, without everyone knowing their history. And I have to believe that Daniel got the opportunity to tell Betty at dinner either that night or later on in their journey, how much she meant to her.

Although, come to think of it... do you think Betty found a copy of MODE in London later that day? Do you think she read the final letter and connected the dots? (I kind of hope that it happened that way.) I love that the series ended with Betty as a success, with Daniel choosing to start a new adventure and making the choice to keep her in his life because it wasn't just that he couldn't be at MODE without her (which he said before) but because what he had told her earlier was true: he couldn't live without her.

You guys, it is such a wonderful way to end a series and a hopeful way to begin a new chapter after the show ended.

2. The "you are beautiful" speech.

Okay, so there's a really common trope that I'm sure you've seen in television shows and movies like She's All That and it's this trope where an "ugly duckling" character gets a makeover and once they lose their glasses and let their hair down, the male protagonist suddenly sees them as beautiful. That's what we would anticipate to occur in Ugly Betty. We would presume that Daniel wouldn't see Betty's true beauty until she received a makeover. But the subversion of this particular trope makes this one of my absolute favorite Daniel/Betty moments. In "Crush'd," Betty fawns over her musician neighbor, Jesse. And she goes to a lot of effort to make him feel special and valued, ensuring that he knows how she feels about him. When Jesse tells her that she is beautiful, Betty is ecstatic (as you would be). Unfortunately for Betty, she walks in on Amanda and Jesse kissing. The young woman then realizes that Jesse meant she was beautiful on the inside, not the outside.

When Daniel finds Betty crying outside of the party she threw for Jesse, they have a heart-to-heart in which Betty tells Daniel that she's accepted the fact that she will never be like Amanda -- will never be gorgeous and striking and have men attracted to her. When Daniel tells her that she is beautiful, Betty corrects him and it's one of the most heartbreaking moments on this series because the young woman sadly tells him that she knows she isn't beautiful. Throughout her entire life, Betty has always been the smart one. She's been the nerdy one. But Betty has never been "the pretty one" in her family or her group of friends and it's something that she has just accepted about herself. It's so utterly gut-wrenching to watch her fight back tears and tell Daniel that she knows who she is -- the ugly duckling -- and that when people tell her that she is beautiful, they mean that she has a good heart and is beautiful on the inside.

But Daniel corrects her. He literally takes her shoulders and forces her to look him in the eye because he needs her to believe what he says and also needs her to know that he isn't lying. Daniel tells her that she is beautiful and it's such a powerful moment because this is Betty wearing braces with her hair slightly frizzy and her old, red glasses. But when Daniel looks at her -- right then -- he sees what Jesse is too dumb to see. He sees a young woman who is every bit as beautiful as a model. And I think it's so powerful that Ugly Betty doesn't need to make Betty over before he comes to this realization. Daniel has honestly always seen Betty as beautiful. He's the kind of guy who used to make fun of the girls in oversized t-shirts at the pool. He was the kind of guy who had flings with models because that was easier than committing to a real relationship. But by the time we approach "Crush'd," that's not who Daniel is anymore. He sees women as people and he sees Betty -- all of her: her intelligence and her heart and her passion and her smile -- and he sees her as completely and totally beautiful. And he tells her that even though she doesn't believe it for herself.

And then Daniel draws her into an embrace (the mouthed "come here" is really sweet) and Betty sinks into the hug. I'm not sure that she believes at that point that she is beautiful -- it takes a lot more than one encouraging talk from Daniel to change an entire life's worth of self-consciousness -- but I do think it is a start. And I do think that Daniel means exactly what he says.

1. "Because that's love, right? When you know someone better than they do and when you would do anything in the world to protect them."




The "great big love revelation" is one of my favorite tropes in a sitcom (or any television show or movie, really). At Hilda's wedding, Daniel finally has his own revelation in regards to Betty when Hilda gives her speech. And you can see, in that first GIF, that when Daniel looks at Betty and finally realizes that what he has felt for her all these years is love... he softens. He cannot help it: it's like everything finally clicked for him. And I absolutely love that it is DANIEL who has this revelation. Ugly Betty, as I noted above, is a show that likes to subvert tropes at every turn. Typically, the woman would realize her love and become extremely awkward around her male love interest. But what's so wonderful about Daniel and Betty's relationship is that it's always been full of love. Daniel has loved Betty for longer than he has realized. He's spent years protecting her at every turn (even earlier in the episode with Henry). He's always been there for her to listen and to support her. He's also been one of the only people to ever be able to see Betty for the beautiful woman she is, behind all of the bold prints and colors. Daniel has been in love with her for years, but had never been able to put a word to the feelings he felt.

And so, when the two dance during the episode and Betty wonders why he is looking at her differently (he's just staring at her like she is the most enchanting person in the world), my heart breaks in the best way possible because FINALLY Daniel gets it. And the fact that he does makes him feel so overjoyed because life finally makes sense. His world is finally right. And that is what he tells Betty later in the episode as they're dancing. "It's a great feeling, isn't it? When everything is... right in the world?" This is my favorite Daniel/Betty moment in the entire series. Daniel doesn't fall in love with Betty because she suddenly changes her appearance. He doesn't fall in love with her because she becomes someone different. He has already BEEN in love with her -- he was gradually falling the entire time. When he called her beautiful, he didn't realize that the constricting in his chest and the pain he felt watching Betty get her heart broken was him loving her. And every time she prepared to leave him, he didn't realize that the reason he couldn't bear to let her go was because he loved her.

Daniel and Betty always had this connection. They've always been closer than a boss and an employee. They've always been closer than friends. Truthfully, they've been more like soulmates. That doesn't negate the importance of Molly or Henry -- those people were genuinely and truly loved by Daniel and Betty. But the truth is that at Hilda's wedding, Daniel finally realizes something he's been feeling for a long time and never been able to label. And the tenderness with which he looks at Betty in those moments prove that his feelings? They're real.

And there you have it, folks! These are my top 15 Daniel/Betty moments. I'm so sad that I never got into watching Ugly Betty when it was on the air but I'm thankful that I got the opportunity to binge-watch it on Netflix. Comment below on what YOUR favorite moments between this pairing are. Until then, folks! :)

6 comments:

  1. Gosh, I am feeling too much and legit sitting here with a tissue that is soaking wet from crying reading this. I've always felt like Ugly Betty -- living at home, taking care of everyone, putting myself last and the show made me feel hopeful and understood. And this post is perfect! You have honored the show in the best way possible. Thank you times a million. Justin scenes with either Marc or Betty were always my favorite and like I have shared with you before I think it's because both Marc and Betty see themselves in him and they talk to him the way they wish they had talked to themselves <3

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    1. GIRL I am so glad that you liked the post and it means so much that you think I did the series justice and honored it. That was truly my goal. And also, I totally agree about scenes with Justin and either Marc or Betty. I loved how all of the characters grew throughout the course of the series.and honestly the HUG BETWEEN MARC AND BETTY AT THE END. UGH. <3 Thank you again for your comment bb!!!

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  2. I haven't thought about Ugly Betty in a long time (and, unfortunately, we don't have it on Canadian Netflix), but reading this has sure made me smile. Love borne out of respect and friendship is a beautiful thing. Thanks for writing a great post that highlights it! - Ana

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    1. Aww, man, I'm so sad I got into Ugly Betty after it aired. And I'm so mad that Netflix took it off right after the new year! But thank you for reading this post and commenting on it. I'm so glad I was able to make you smile. :)

      Don't you just love that Daniel and Betty's relationship was always about respect and friendship? It was so beautiful. Thank you for commenting, Ana!

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  3. Ok, first, I don't know what's been happening to this site lately, but my comments have been removed without me doing a thing, so this is like my 10th try at doing this, I hope it won't be gone again.

    You know, it's been a long time since I've last watched Ugly Betty, and this article you have right here has just reminded of all the sweetness found during Betty and Daniel's interactions. I honestly had forgotten most of those moments, but now that I've recalled them, I'll cherish those memories.
    Also, as a bonus, I'm going to post some songs that according to my opinion describe their relationship accurately, from the most to the least fitting one:

    (From Daniel to Betty) Maggie MacNeal - When You're Gone
    (From Betty do Daniel) Anne Murray - You Needed Me
    Lane Brody - Over You
    Lucifer - Self Pity

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  4. tres bon texte je suis totalement d'accord avec tous ces moments entre Betty et daniel. quelle belle relation. tout au long de la serie on nous préparais a cette evolution de leur relation en particulier a la saison 4 ou on a pu voir la maturite de leur relation et la perception es autres par rapport a leur relation. cest subtile mais si on lit entre les lignes, on peut voir que les autres sentaient un petit quelque chose d'important entre eux, peut etre meme Hilda avec son discours sur l'amour a son mariage...

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