*NB: For those of you who haven't seen the third season in its entirety, I would refrain from reading this, as it might contain potential spoilers- Waiching*[b]

[b](US DVD release date: 22 September 2009)

(UK DVD release date: 7 December 2009)

Season 3 Synopsis -'The fashionable world of Ugly Betty continues to evolve in the complete third season that takes Betty to another life change as she grows up, moves into Manhattan and embraces her independence.'

With Ugly Betty there appears to be a different theme occuring in each season. Season 1 was mainly about Betty and her friendships with Daniel, Henry and Christina; Season 2 was all about Betty, Gio and Henry. Season 3 looks set to be about Betty, Marc and Amanda.

A couple of months ago before the season 3 premiere had even aired, Silvio Horta mentioned that this season was going to be all about Betty growing up. Well, to be frank, the product description at the back of the box which says '...moves to Manhattan and embraces her independence' is misleading and wrong; thus, this should be changed because Betty eventually leaves her apartment and moves back home to Queens in episode 13, 'Kissed Off'.

In season 3, Betty not only has to deal with her romantic entanglements in Henry, Gio, Jesse and Matt- Jesse and Matt being Betty's love interests for this season but also as the series progresses, she finds herself having to make sacrifices and decisions which affect her career at Mode and YETI, her life, herself and her loved ones.

The first seems to be case when refering to Daniel, Marc and Amanda; characters of whom themselves have evolved and undergone a huge transformation, in terms of their character and as individuals, ever since the first season. Many of the storylines in season 3 have revolved around Hilda, Ignscio and Justin, as well as Wilhelmina, Marc, Amanda and Daniel and often due to Betty's influence, we see how they have dealt with their own situations and problems. Which I thought was a positive and encouraging thing to witness- given that this was virtually non-existent in season 2.

Some of the issues addressed and raised this season relate to family ('Sisters on the verge of a nervous breakdown'), race ('When Betty met Y.E.T.I') and truth and honesty ('Tornado girl') to name but a couple.

Usually with TV shows, we get a fantastic first season, then the next couple of seasons are either good, okay- or even worse. With UB on the other hand and season 3, it has been a mixed blessing in disguise: Season 1 was just amazing and brilliant and Season 2 was just, well, the less said about it the better. With season 3, my love affair for Ugly Betty and its characters had returned.

Indeed, I have enjoyed season 3 a lot; MUCH more than say the previous season.

Ugly Betty was lambasted by some critics, as well as quarters of avid fans, like myself back in season 2 when the show- through the 'tedious' and relentless Betty romance saga and 'dumbing down' of the characters and ideas - spiralled into obscurity and utter silliness. Considering season 3 has attracted less viewers in total compared to last season, the direction for this season has also been criticised and panned, particuarly by many ex-fans of UB, of whom have stopped watching it altogether.

Season 3's episodes feel a lot less 'forced' than last season, where in which the writers had to cram every outrageous idea- in what was a shortened season- and to try to outshine each episode by making it even more absurd and outlandish than the last one. Of course, Ugly Betty is supposed to be a dramedy after all, but still...

Because of this, the show became excessively over-the-top and childish. On occasions, it even became so dull and almost unwatchable that by that point, I didn't have much hope for Ugly Betty. But likewise, two of the writers got fired and Horta and co. went back to the drawing board.

The celebrity guest cameos this time round have been reduced- which is a sigh of relief because in the previous season it was overdone to death, and plus, this partly diminished the quality of the Season 2 writing.

The storylines and episodes here are more varied, less ridiculous and more diverse. It appears as though a lot more thought, time and effort has gone into the material and dialogue by the writers. The characters were drifting apart from each other during the earlier part of the second season onwards- and so I especially enjoyed the likes of Willie, Marc, Daniel, Amanda, Betty prospering alongside each other, as opposed to scheming and hating each other for once. The 'evil and heartless' Willie and Marc show soon got old and tired by the end of season 2, and so it was refreshing to see them being on good terms with, and working with and alongside Betty and Daniel. Which was nice to see :). The season 3 finale has to be seen to be believed, as it is as good as season 1's- it is so riveting and intense- yet shocking as well; so much so that it will leave you gasping in awe and leave you stunned, afterwards. I know I clearly was. It was superior to season 2's jump, which was frankly lame and turned into a damp squib.

As the season continues, we see the growth and development taking place with Amanda, Marc, Willie and Daniel. Though we have seen less Detty interaction this season, whenever we did get scenes between Betty and Daniel, these have been cute nonetheless and plus, there was slightly more of them in season 3 than in season 2. Amanda has become more and more of a favourite of mine as the show progresses; Becki Newton is fab as ever and this time she portrays her as a much nicer character than she was in season 1,- though she still has her bitchy moments, and Amanda's development this season is just great to see. As for Marc, he still has his flaws but he has shown on occasions to be more open as a person, as well as nicer and more accepting towards Betty than he has in the previous seasons. And Daniel, well, he has come a long way from being the playboy and sexaholic of season 1- he has grown and matured a lot in season 3, and now, he is looking forward to settling down and perhaps raising a family. Who would've thought that would happen?!

I liked that with Vanessa Williams's, Wilhelmina, she became more two- dimensional as a character and that we saw that like Marc and Amanda, she is not always as evil as she is. It helped to a degree somewhat that she was given a love interest in the shape of Connor Owens, played by Australian actor, Grant Bowler- though his stint on UB was short-lived afterwards as he later turned into a bad guy and alas, he exited the show. I enjoyed seeing the softer side to Willie, as in season 2, she was 100% mean and loathable throughout.

My only reserved criticisms of Season 3 is that we haven't seen much of Christina- the writers don't realise how important this character is to the show (though it is sad she will no longer be on UB from next season onwards):( -; the Marc cheating on Cliff storyline, which appalled and infuriated me as a fan of Michael Urie's character, and Betty moving back to Queens. Lindsay Lohan's cameo was something I didn't care for in the slightest; though the fact that she played a b*tch in Kimmie and she humiliated Betty on so many occasions angered me. And yet of which I was relieved and pleased when Willie fired her, after she had messed up with the Tico Berry shoot in the 'Ugly Berry' episode. In addition, we did not get many scenes with Marc and Amanda living together in that apartment. Which as a Mamanda shipper myself, I thought was dissapointing slightly.

But otherwise, this doesn't take away from what has been a massive improvement over season 2 and a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining series. I know that this season it has had its critics- but I love and adore this show, ever since it first aired, and until Ugly Betty gets to a stage where I feel it has really jumped the shark for good and has never recovered- to a point in which I couldn't watch it anymore-, then I will not give up on it completely.

Although it is not as humourous and tremendous as the first season and in spite of the decline in viewers, I still found the third season to be as wonderfully wholesome, entertaining and amusing. It kept me glued throughout; it is 'a step forward' for Ugly Betty as it tries to fulfil its potential as a show. Season 3 is everything that season 2 ought to have been and more:though season 1 still remains a favourite of mine.

If you loved season 1 and was left with egg on your face and felt letdown by season 2, then it is worth giving season 3 a chance. You might like it-though then again, you might hate it. Yet for me, Ugly Betty as a show- and judging by what I have seen this season-, is still as 'bolder, brighter and bettyier' as ever :).

*High points-

- More Betty with Amanda and/or Marc episodes- yippie :)!! Favourite Marc and Mandy moment has got to be their kiss in 'Kissed off'. It was probably the biggest OMG moment of season 3

- Seeing Betty living in the city away from her family - that WAS a good idea

- Getting rid of that love triangle involving Betty, Gio and Henry. I like Gio and Betty, not Henry- and not that storyline that bored me in season 2, the longer it went on

- The celebrity cameo appearences were reduced this time round, thankfully

- The shift towards the focus and progress of Marc, Amanda, Daniel and Wilhelmina and their development as characters in season 3

- The softer Willie

- Episodes and storylines- more variation and thought put into the writing

- Less ridiculous and over- the- top this time round (thank goodness for that)

- The arrival of Matt- better than that other 'love interest', Jesse, thanks to Daniel Eric Gold's performance

*Low points-

- There should've been more scenes with Christina and Claire in them- the writers seem to forget how integral they are to the show

- Marc cheating on Cliff- how angry was I over this? Very angry. Awful idea that should never have been considered in the first place

- Betty moving back home- seriously who's idea was it to have Betty move out of her New York apartment? Bad move indeed

- Christina leaving- damn those writers although the send-off she received was a nice touch and great as well.

- Lindsay Lohan as Kimmie- I didn't care much for her or her character at all. After season 2, Silvio and co shouldn't have brought her back on the show

- Henry- nooo! I'd rather have Gio back and have him as Betty's friend, instead of Henry. No offence to Chris Gorham

*My Rating (out of ten): 9 and a half