|Ugly Betty character|
Ashley Jensen as Christina McKinney
|First appearance||"Pilot" |
|Last appearance||"London Calling" |
|Created by||Silvio Horta|
|Portrayed by||Ashley Jensen|
|Occupation||Fashion designer |
Designer and seamstress
(at Mode Magazine)
|Family||9 unnamed siblings|
|Spouse||Stuart McKinney |
(husband; 2002-present; 1 child)
|Children||William Stuart "Will" McKinney |
(son, with Stuart; born February 19, 2009)
Christina McKinney is a fictional character on the American dramedy Ugly Betty, which aired on ABC between 2006 and 2010. Christina was portrayed by Ashley Jensen. Introduced as a seamstress for the fashion magazine MODE, she is a close friend to the series protagonist Betty Suarez. She become increasingly involved in creative director Wilhelmina Slater's schemes over the course of the show. Jensen left Ugly Betty at the end of its third season to pursue other projects, though she returned the season four episode "London Calling". Response to the character was primarily positive.
One of nine siblings, Christina McKinney emigrated from Scotland to the United States to leave her husband, Stuart, and start a new life. She became a seamstress at fashion magazine MODE, where she worked closely with then-editor-in-chief Fey Sommers and creative director Wilhelmina Slater. She is a close friend to Betty Suarez, the assistant to the new editor-in-chief Daniel Meade, and provides advice for her personal and professional life. She dreams about becoming a fashion designer and starting her own fashion line. Wilhelmina offers Christina a featured spot during the New York Fashion Week on the condition that she anonymously leaves a package at a police station. Christina accepts the deal and is recognized as a promising designer by the fashion community; however, she feels conflicted upon discovering that the package contained evidenced that would frame publishing mogul Bradford Meade for Fey's murder. Wilhelmina had been working with Daniel's transgender sister Alexis Meade to take over MODE as editor-in-chief. Bradford is arrested at the New York Fashion Week, and Alexis take his place as the head of the publishing company. Christina refuses to participate further in Wilhelmina schemes, though Wilhelmina reminds her that she controls Christina's potential career as a fashion designer. In one instance, Wilhelmina prevents Christina from designing a custom dress for Sarah Jessica Parker. When Christina tells Betty about her role in Bradford's arrest, their friendship is temporarily ended, though Betty later apologizes to her. Christina continues to help Betty with her love life, including telling her crush Henry Grubstick that his girlfriend Charlie cheated on him and may be pregnant with another man's child.
In the show's second season, Christina joins a online dating service, and accidentally reconnects with Stuart. He comes to New York City to see Christina, and they have sex in Fey's "love dungeon", a room built in the MODE for her daily trysts with Bradford. After Christina finds a needle in his rucksack, Stuart explains that he has liver failure, and has six months to live. He believe that an experimental treatment could save him, but it is too expensive. Christina promises to help Stuart with the money, but she later realizes that her insurance would not cover the procedure. Wilhelmina offers Christina the money for Stuart's operation on the condition that she becomes her surrogate. She is uncertain about the offer after discovering that Wilhelmina is using Bradford's sperm, which she procured after his death during their wedding ceremony. However, Christina agrees to the deal, and Betty acts her confidant. Wilhelmina forces Christina to live in her apartment to monitor her pregnancy.
When Christina suspects that Stuart is using drugs again, she sends his hair to a lab for testing. After the results are positive, Christina breaks up with him after threatening to call immigration services. Alexis pushes Christina down a flight of stars in a blind rage because the baby she is carrying represent Wilhelmina's opportunity to take over MODE. Christina is briefly hospitalized for her injuries. While Wilhelmina initially plays up the incident to gain attention from the press, she later sympathizes with Christina and takes better care of her. Christina learns that Stuart's medical procedures were unsuccessful, though his health gradually improves over time. Christina gives birth to a boy, William, during the New York Fashion Week. Christina believes that the baby may actually be hers; since Wilhelmina is using the child to claim a stake in the Meade fortune and a place at MODE, she fabricates DNA results that show her as the biological mother. She also bans Christina from seeing the child. Christina kidnaps William, but is eventually caught by Wilhelmina. Betty convinces Wilhelmina to admit the truth about the child's parentage, though she does so to appeal to the magazine's new partner Calvin Hartley as a ruthless businesswoman. Now that William has brought them together as a family, Christina and Stuart decide to go back to Edinburgh with their son. Christina reappears in the season four episode "London Calling". She spends time with Betty's sister Hilda Suarez as part of her bachelorette party.
While vacationing in the United States, Ashley Jensen auditioned for multiple television projects as part of the pilot season at the suggestion of her talent agent. She was attracted to Ugly Betty for its comedy and treatment of more serious subject matters such as body issues. Since Christina was developed as "a fast-talking New Yorker", Jenson mimicked a New York accent for her audition. However, the casting agents encouraged Jensen to use her natural Scottish accent instead, leading to the character being rewritten as Scottish. Before receiving the part, Jensen did screen test and met with the show's producer Salma Hayek. According to The Independent, Jensen's performance as Maggie Jacobs on the British sitcom Extras helped her to secure the role on Ugly Betty. Jensen moved to Los Angeles after the pilot episode was filmed, though her husband Terence Beesley was unable to come with her until later.
According to Robert Lloyd of the Los Angeles Times, Christina had fewer lines than the other main characters during the show's first season. Lloyd described Jensen as taking on the "difficult and thankless role [of] the best friend", who is frequently relegated to providing exposition and advice. Jensen left Ugly Betty at the end of its third season, despite denying reports in January 2009. After the show moved to New York City for its fourth season, Jensen chose to remain in Los Angeles. When discussing her departure, Jensen explained "they didn't quite know what to do with my character", and she wanted to pursue other projects. The show's executive producer Silvio Horta clarified that the actress would return for future episodes.
Christina McKinney was praised by critics. During his review of the pilot episode, Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe felt that Christina had potential, but required more screen time. While reviewing the first season, DVD Talk's Jeffrey Robinson cited Christina, along with Marc St. James, as underdeveloped, but wrote "they still bring quite a lot to the table in drama and comedy". Melanie McFarland of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer wrote that Christina "grants a necessary warm contrast to all the hideous behavior". A reviewer for AfterEllen.com praised Christina as the "most consistently funny character", and was critical of her removal from the show.
- Veitch, Kristin (March 13, 2007). "TV Fest '07: Nothin' Ugly About 'Em!". E!. Archived from the original on August 10, 2018.
- Hogan, Phil (September 9, 2006). "Hollywood calling". The Guardian. Archived from the original on June 26, 2018.
- Lloyd, Robert (March 4, 2007). "Aiding or abetting, the accent stays on honesty". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on September 28, 2015.
- "Ashley Jensen: 'Ricky and Extras changed my life'". The Independent. November 20, 2009. Archived from the original on September 10, 2018.
- Hemelryk, Simon. "Ashley Jensen "I Remember"". Reader's Digest. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
- French, Dan (March 12, 2009). "Ashley Jensen quits 'Ugly Betty'". Digital Spy. Archived from the original on September 10, 2018.
- "Jensen denies 'Betty' exit rumours". Digital Spy. January 14, 2009. Archived from the original on September 10, 2018.
- "The decline and fail of "Ugly Betty"". AfterEllen.com. May 21, 2009. Archived from the original on January 25, 2017.
- "Ashley Jensen quits Ugly Betty". Marie Claire. May 19, 2009. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
- Gilbert, Matthew (September 28, 2006). "'Ugly Betty' has look of a winner". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on December 4, 2017.
- Robinson, Jeffrey (August 7, 2007). "Ugly Betty: The Complete First Season - The Bettyfied Edition". DVD Talk. Archived from the original on May 5, 2016.
- McFarland, Melanie (September 27, 2006). "On TV: 'Ugly Betty' tackles the cruel fashion world with grace". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved September 29, 2018.