Ok, to be honest I started watching this show when someone told me I looked like Ugly Betty (sigh...oh well I think I can still live with myself). And plus I read all those crap magazines, like People and US when I work out, and the cast kept being featured...so I got curious.
It's fun. I think season 1 has kind of a nice spirit to it--and it's nice to see a more realistic heroine, one who is frankly a bit "un-cool." And ironically, and predictably, she's the one "ugly" person working at a fashion magazine, but she's the only one that's "pretty" on the inside.
Season 1 is light hearted and fun, you can't take it too seriously--there are a lot of ridiculous side plots with the exploits of Betty's boss, and with Betty's Dad's case worker. Anyway--the show does an excellent job of mixing sheer entertainment with more serious issues--weight/beauty, gay rights, immigration--and putting it in a warm fuzzy package.
Season 2 (well, pre-writer's strike season 2) is more addictive in the sense that you can't stop watching it, but I feel it loses some of what makes it a good show.
It turns significantly more into almost a soap opera--Betty's having issues with her boyfriend, who is having issues with his ex (I'm trying to keep this vague and spoiler free), people get pregnant, have sex changes, and there is a constant and somewhat ridiculous struggle to take over the magazine where Betty works. All of this makes it hard to stop watching, but it also makes it...well, just not as "good" of a show.
One thing season 2 does that I do appreciate tho--season 2 takes some of the more minor characters (like the lovable Marc) and builds them up, makes them more "real" (although with some of these characters, you can tell they're still working at figuring out exactly who they are). In the first season you see Marc sheerly as the "bitchy assistant" to Willhamina, but in the second season you see him built more into a real person--one who, under all of that bluster, is struggling to have a real relationship, who still hasn't come out to his parents, and who will go out of his way to make someone feel better (as long as no one else will find out).
Spoilers: But I feel that the show is losing a lot where Betty is concerned--a lot of what makes the show appealing is that the main character is not a cut out girl, is not perfect, has curious blind spots and flaws, says the wrong things at the wrong time, etc. But this whole Henry thing--she went straight from one boy friend to another--and I'm guessing now, sooner or later, she's going to turn to Gio (who I absolutely love, as a side note). And this is where the show starts really losing something. She's supposed to be this real character, and yet I feel like she's just going to keep trucking through boy friends.
(spoilers, cont.) And I honestly think the whole thing with Charlie and Henry is just pushing it. I'm sorry but if Henry's ex is going to have a baby...then let's see, Betty and Henry shouldn't date. It's just sort of a way to make the show more dramatic than it already is. And the whole interlude with Charlie and Betty's dentist? Ugh! Unless it turns out to be relevant (ie Charlie was lying to Henry about the paternity test and the baby isn't his) I don't want to hear about it. And Henry is turning into such a jerk...I'm sorry if Henry is jealous of Gio, but he doesn't have any cause to be jealous, under the circumstances.
(/spoilers). In conclusion, I think that Ugly Betty is on slippery ground...they're going to need to work out some of the soap opera components, and go back to making the characters grow or mature, or they are going to lose a lot of their fan base (I know ratings have already been dropping).
As a final unrelated side note. I have to say I've decided that I'm in love with Marc. In the episode with Patti LuPone as his mother...I seriously fell in love with him. He just has those big dark eyes...
*sigh* Why is it always the gay ones that are the most attractive? ;)