It’s been more than a year since “Ugly Betty” ended its four-season run, but Eric Mabius, who played horndog publisher Daniel Meade on the ABC comedy, is still mourning its passing.
“The end of ‘Ugly Betty’ was upsetting in many ways to all of us,” Mabius tells Zap2it, who blames someone he’ll identify only as “an executive who was running the network at the time but is no longer at the company” for jerking the Emmy-winning series from one time slot to another and failing to promote it adequately.
“I don’t know why we were thrown on the sacrificial altar so often, with our nights getting changed and the fans getting so upset,” he says. “I think there was a little bit too much alternative-lifestyle humor for a certain executive, but despite having no support from certain people, the fans really made a difference. The universality of Erthe topic and the nature of what was portrayed on the show were reflective of how we felt about each other as human beings.”
Mabius says the executive in question was uncomfortable with the ongoing story line about Betty’s teenage nephew, Justin, and his awakening gay identity, but the same man also was unhappy with Michael Urie‘s giddily over-the-top work as Marc, Wilhelmina Slater’s (Vanessa Williams) flamboyant assistant, despite the fact that the character was a huge fan favorite.
“It wasn’t typical T&A,” the actor says. “I’m pretty sure that the first teenage romantic kiss between two boys on network television was on our show, but did you hear anything about it? Was it promoted? The punishment was apparent every week. When they would run teasers for the next week’s episode of other shows, they didn’t even do those for us. That’s how little support we had. It’s short-sighted and silly. There was an undeniable feeling that the show was over at least a season early.”
Mabius says that, under the circumstances, he’s happy with how the show left Daniel and Betty (America Ferrera) at the end, parting ways in London, at least for the moment.
“I think some audiences were dying for Daniel and Betty to get together, because that was a quick, easy fix, but real life is much closer to what we ended up with, even though it was a little rushed as far as how we got there,” he says. “Leaving it the way we did was really daring and honored a lot of what we had built and was consistent with the characters. Daniel had done a lot of growing up and Betty was assuming the power she had within her and pursuing that.
“I was talking to America just recently and we were sort of giggling sadly that we go from spending all those holidays and birthdays together to none at all, just cast to the four corners of the Earth. It was one of those special, unique lightning bolts that happen only once in a while.”