So one of my favorites this season has been Ugly Betty for a number of reasons. Yeah, we all know the show is fabulous.
But from a writer's point of view, it's amazing that an ensemble show can have so many characters that we care about, and who all have a story that makes them self-sustaining... meaning, they're not dependent on another character to have an interesting backstory or storyline.
One of those characters I'm totally loving on the show is the character Justin Suarez, Betty's fashion-loving, high-energy and enthusiastic, odd-guy-out, nephew. Whether he's giving his mom or aunt clothing tips, or singing a medley of Broadway musicals, or just swinging his hands in the air while dancing... we see our 12-year-old selves in him. Well, I do. And I'm sure many other present-day 12-year-olds are, too.
Yeah, we cringe at times. Yeah, we feel the parental/family angst "Is he or isn't he?" But the cool thing is how the writers (and the fictional Suarez family) are letting Justin just be who he is... the way parents and families should let their kids be. Themselves, without trying to change them. And I know it's going to be a great storyline payoff years down the line as the writers delve into the "Is he or isn't he?" subject, but honestly it really doesn't matter.
I'm sure some kids who watch Ugly Betty are loving that there's someone like them on television. Can you imagine a kid like Justin on TV in the 80s or 90s? The show is just so issue forward -- remember the episode where Betty educated her dad on the difference between a transgender and a transsexual? It was a nice "teachable" moment... the way art should be used to educate the general public.
Anyway, this entry has absolutely nothing to do with writing, or books, or all that jazz. But in a way it does... it's nice seeing the writers tackle issues in a way that makes them not issues. Justin Suarez just is... and all of our characters in our fiction should just be... part of the landscape, and allowed to be who they are, as if they're just like everybody else.
In other words, our characters can normalize issues and groups that should already be considered normal.
A site devoted to Justin Suarez.
L.A. Times article, Just The Way You Are
A MySpace devoted to the character of Justin Suarez.