CHINA> Focus
Chinese 'Ugly Betty' stirs debate online
Updated: 2009-03-19 16:28

BEIJING -- "Ugly Wudi," a Chinese adaptation of TV show "Ugly Betty," is leading the list of an online survey for the lousiest native TV shows aired in 2008 and early 2009.

The poll was jointly carried out by media like, a popular Chinese Web site, and the Oriental Morning Post. Ugly Wudi is the champion with 3,617 votes, according to the results on the Web site Thursday. ( It is followed by the "The Legend of Bruce Lee," a biopic of the Kung Fu icon, which won 3,562 votes.

A still from TV series "Ugly Wudi" [file]

"I hate to see the new hairstyle of Wudi in the second season," said a blogger named Mei Zhimei, who planned to call for a boycott against the show. "It's like a skullcap and looks so awkward."

Sun Weiwei, an office worker, said the show was a bad reproduction of Ugly Betty.

"I didn't get the same feeling as I got from Ugly Betty."

Ugly Wudi debuted at Hunan TV in September 2008. The second season has been in progress since the annual Chinese Spring Festival in January to early this month.

But is Chinese Betty really so bad?  Sunday's New Weekly, a well-known magazine didn't think so.

It put Ugly Wudi among the eight most favored figures on the TV screen in 2008. Bruce Lee was another. Wudi won the honor because she was a spokeswoman for ordinary people and symbolized how a poor person could succeed in society. It reported that the show rated second nationwide among the television series played at the same time-slot. It was especially popular among the young people.

"The young guys rely heavily on TV programs," said Zhang Yiwu, a professor with Beijing University, who was one of the judges of the poll.

He commented that the screening of Ugly Wudi coincided with the global economic meltdown, and the show offered a balm to the young people who faced grim job prospects.

"People need comic relief anyway," said Zhang, adding that relaxation provided by comedies like Ugly Wudi was the best function a TV program could offer.

Luo Xiao, a civil servant in Beijing, watched the television series when he was in his hometown in central Hunan Province during the Spring Festival break. He echoed Zhang's opinion.

"Though it's a bad adaptation, I truly laughed a lot."

Ugly Wudi, or "Chou Nu Wu Di," centers on the career of Lin Wudi, a finance graduate who had been struggling to find a job before she joined Concept, a well-known advertisement company. Wearing big black-framed glasses and dressed in ostentatiously unfashionable clothes, she is an ugly girl. Her intelligence and kindness help her rise gradually in the company.

With both favorable and critical reviews, the next season of Ugly Wudi is scheduled to be filmed in April.

"I won't miss it,"  Luo smiled.