British news magazine New Statesman sang the praises of Ugly Betty recently, noting a subversive political agenda underneath Betty's shiny Cinderella story. The article praises the way it gave a human face to illegal immigration but also notes how the show quietly went into uncharted territory with it gay characters:
"Gay characters are not unheard of in American drama, but Ugly Betty went a stage further by introducing a friendship between the flamboyant gay fashion editor Marc St James (Michael Urie) and Justin, Betty's 12-year-old brother (Mark Indelicato), who is clearly (but not explicitly) struggling with his sexuality.
'It's a relationship we've never seen before on television,' says Urie. 'We've seen what America is willing to accept with a gay man in a couple, but we've never seen a positive relationship with a young child before.' One of the show's creators, Silvio Horta, is gay and says that, as Justin ages, he will experience 'the journey'. 'I see myself in him. Growing up, I certainly felt like an outsider at times. But there is this sweet innocence in Justin that sees the positive.'"
While both Marc and Justin have their stereotypical qualities, Betty has done much to define them beyond their flamboyant demeanor, catty gossip and fashion knowledge. Their relationships with members of the Suarez family and with the staff at Mode have given plenty of depth to both.
Meanwhile, Televisionista has some pics of Marc and his new boyfriend, Cliff from the October 25 episode of Betty. Cliff's definitely not who we'd imagine someone like Marc dating, so it looks like we're going to get to learn even more about Marc. Check him out:
The quote from Silvio Horta also stood out for me. I've seen some debate on whether of not Justin is supposed to be gay and that's the clearest statement I've seen on the matter. Interestingly, the same episode that introduces Cliff also gives Justin a girlfriend. Is this part of "the journey" for Justin?