I’ve been rewatching the first season of Ugly Betty with my boyfriend lately, since loves it but isn’t “caught up” on the goings-on at Mode. And all this time, I’ve been rediscovering my deep, deep love for Becki Newton, who plays Mode‘s fiercely stupid yet cagily catty receptionist Amanda Tanen.
As Amanda, Becki is about 50% popular high school bitch and 50% drag queen, which is pretty much a formula for gay male worship (see also Mean Girls, etc). With her pleistocene facial expressions, campy line delivery, and smoking figure, it’s clear she attended the Belle Spalsy School of Acting. But I love it. Amanda has some of the funniest story lines, and her odd character trait—she’s a notorious stress-eater—has led her to some of her funniest scenes, like when she first meets Betty’s family, insists it’s pronounced “HO-la” because “it has an h in it,” and then tastes flan for the first time during a particularly stressful period—and continuously demands more and more.
She’s a great foil to Michael Urie’s Marc, equally bitchy and drag queeny as Wilhelmina’s “flying monkey” assistant, but beyond that, she’s known heartbreak. She’s known disappointment. And when these tender moments where a vulnerable Amanda show through are quickly paved over with her superficial persona, we understand why she is the way she is.
Becki Newton, I love you.