Pilot (Ugly Betty)

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Ugly Betty episode
Ugly Betty s01e01.png
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 1
Directed by Richard Shepard
Written by Silvio Horta
Production code 101
Original air date September 28, 2006
Guest actors

William Abadie

Episode chronology
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"The Box and the Bunny"
List of Ugly Betty episodes

"Pilot" (also known as "I Am Not Going to Sell Herbalux") is the debut episode for the dramedy series Ugly Betty. It is the first episode in the series, which debuted on September 28, 2006. This is also the most watched episode of the season and the series with more than 16 million viewers.


In this episode we are introduced to Betty Suarez, an unglamorous woman in her 20s who starts work for a fashion magazine called MODE, and in the process introduced to the harsh treatment she'll have to deal with from her more beautiful co-workers. She also meets with her boss, Daniel Meade, who was just named the new editor in chief by his father, Bradford Meade. Daniel succeeds the revered Fey Sommers, who was killed in a one-car accident that reeks of foul play. The announcement of Daniel being named editor-in-chief does not sit well with Wilhelmina Slater, the magazine's creative editor who has been vying for the position herself.

Daniel isn't so keen about having Betty working with him because she is homely, so he plots to have her quit by giving her difficult and outrageous tasks. When Betty gets wind of this from the company seamstress, Christina, she is badly hurt and says that perhaps that is the way she was supposed to land a job. After Daniel makes her stand in for an embarrassing modeling shoot, he seems to relent as Betty walks out in anger and tears.

Daniel later regrets his mistake when he realizes that he is in danger of losing the Fabia cosmetics account. He is unaware that he is being sabotaged by Wilhelmina and his best friend, a photographer who has been known to plagiarize other people's work (after Betty mentions a layout he did) and is responsible for the aforementioned shoot that Betty was in. Sensing this and after seeing a new cosmetics layout proposal created by Betty, Daniel decides that he needs her. Betty eventually returns and in the process not only saves the campaign, but also his job.

In her personal life, Betty has to deal with her sister Hilda, a single mother who thinks that her college-educated sister isn't cut out for work in the fashion world, and wants Betty to join her in selling Herbalux. Betty takes responsibility for her father by phoning his HMO to get treatment for his health condition.

In this episode, Betty's boyfriend, Walter, dumps her for Gina, her neighbor. After going to Gina's house to complain about her dating activities, and walking in on her making out with a man that isn't Walter, Betty learns that Gina was using Walter in order to get a discount on a plasma TV. Fuming, Betty storms out of Gina's house, accidentally destroying the TV in the process.

Meanwhile, Wilhelmina pays a visit to a person whose face is partially wrapped up and it is discovered that the two are already discussing behind-the-scenes sinister plans to take over Meade Publications. While she looks in the mirror, she also says that they should keep a close eye on "...that ugly assistant..."


This episode was the only one to be actually filmed in New York City until the move starting with season three. In an effort to save costs, ABC suggested that production be done in Los Angeles instead. In addition, most of the stock footage would be used for the most of the backdrops from the second episode onward. Also, most of the sets were recreated in Los Angeles.

In this episode, the character of William Abadaide (the fashion photographer Philippe Michel) was supposed to be a series regular, as he was featured in the series' early promos and pictures, but has not been seen since.

The sets of Daniel's apartment, Christina's office, the closet, and the Suarez' kitchen are quite different here with the rest of the series.


There were excellent reviews about the pilot episode. In USA Today critic Robert Bianco gave it 3 and a half stars,[1] while Rob Owen of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette described it as "Pretty Good".[2]


The pilot is the highest-rated episode in the series, pulling a 10.7/17, with more than 16 million viewers in the United States tuning in. The episode also pulled high ratings overseas in the United Kingdom, where it attracted 4.5 million viewers.[3] and in Australia, where it pulled in 2.03 million viewers.[4]


The episode won a DGA Award on February 3, 2007. It was also submitted for consideration in the categories of "Outstanding Comedy Series" and "Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series" for the 2007 Emmy Awards. America Ferrera and Kevin Sussman also chose this episode for consideration of their work in the categories of "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series" and "Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series" respectively. Richard Shepard won the Emmy for his direction on this episode.[5]

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