Colombia: “Yo soy Betty, la fea” (1999)
It all started in Colombia with “Yo soy Betty, la fea” (I am Betty, the Ugly), which starred Ana Maria Orozco as Beatriz ‘Betty’ Pinzón Solano, the sweet and intelligent ugly duckling who fell in love with her womanizing boss, Armando Mendoza Sáenz (played by Jorge Enrique Abello), at EcoModa, a prominent Bogotá fashion house. Through her strength of spirit, and with a little help from her family and friends, Betty’s inner beauty emerged for all to see.
India: “Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin” (2003)
India’s popular “Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin” (There’s No One Like Jassi), starred Mona Singh as Jasmeet ‘Jassi’ Wahlia and Apurva Agnihotri as Armaan Suri. Jassi worked for Armaan at the fashion house, Gulmohur. This show was so popular that it stayed on the air for over two and a half years.
”Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin”
Turkey: “Sensiz Olmuyor” (2005)
Turkey’s “Sensiz Olmuyor” (Won’t Work Without You) condensed its story into 26 episodes. When it debuted on Show TV in January of 2005, Özlem Conker played Gönül Üstünsoy and pop star Emre Altuğ appeared as Arda Gazioğlu, Gönül’s boss and love interest. After 13 episodes, the show moved to rival network Kanal D and the role of Gönül was then portrayed by Yeliz Şar for the final 13 episodes.
Germany: “Verliebt in Berlin” (2005)
Germany’s “Verliebt in Berlin” (In Love in Berlin) starred Alexandra Neldel as Elisabeth ‘Lisa’ Plenske and Mathis Künzler as David Seidel. Lisa worked for David at the fashion house, Kerima Moda. After their story wrapped up, a second season of the series was ordered, retaining many cast members from the previous season, but now focusing on Lisa’s half-brother, Bruno.
”Verliebt in Berlin”
”Ne Rodis Krasivoy”
Russia: “Ne Rodis Krasivoy” (2005)
Russia’s “Ne Rodis Krasivoy” (Be Not Born Beautiful) was the most faithful remake of “Yo soy Betty, la fea” to date. It starred Nelli Uvarova as Ekaterina ‘Katya’ Valerievna Pushkaryova and Grigori Antipenko as Andrei Pavlovich Zhdanov. Katya worked for Grigori at the fashion house, Zimaletto. The show’s title is a reference to a Russian proverb, “Be not born beautiful, but be born happy.”
Mexico: “La fea más bella” (2006)
Mexico’s “La fea más bella” (The Prettiest Ugly) featured the most slapstick humor of all the “Betty” adaptations. Angélica Vale played Leticia ‘Lety’ Padilla Solis in a very broad manner, much like the sketch comedy characters she used to play on “La Parodia”. Jaime Camil played Fernando Mendiola, Lety’s boss at Conceptos, a video production house. The show’s huge ratings, both in Mexico and on Univision in the U.S., led the producers to extend the run of the series more than once.
”La fea mas bella”
The Netherlands: “Lotte” (2006)
Holland’s “Lotte” starred Nyncke Beekhuyzen as Lotte Pronk and Lars Oostveen as Vico Maesland. Lotte worked for Vico at the fashion house, Emoda. By the time the protagonists got married, many of their friends had linked up into cozy couplings that were different from the pairing combinations that were seen in any of the other adaptations.
Spain: “Yo soy Bea” (2006)
Spain’s “Yo soy Bea” (I am Bea) starred Ruth Núñez as Beatriz ‘Bea’ Pérez Pinzón and Alejandro Tous as Álvaro Aguilar. Bea was Álvaro’s assistant at bulevar 21, a glossy fashion magazine. Bea’s name sounds similar to the Spanish word bella, which means beautiful (and is only one letter away from the word fea, which means ugly). So when you say, “Yo soy Bea,” it almost sounds to a Spanish-speaking person like you’re saying, “I am beautiful.” The series continued for fourteen months after Bea and Álvaro got married and departed.
”Yo soy Bea”
”Maria, i Asximi”
Greece: “Maria, i Asximi” (2007)
Greece’s “Maria, i Asximi” (Maria, the Ugly)—originally called “Glikia mou Asximi” (Ugly Sweetheart)—premiered on January 1, 2007 and starred Angeliki Daliani as Maria Papasotiriou and Anthimos Ananiadis as her boss at Ecomoda, Alexis Mandas. The show was an instant hit, often capturing 40 to 47% of the viewing audience during its timeslot.
Belgium: “Sara” (2007)
Belgium’s “Sara” premiered on September 25, 2007 on the VTM network and starred Veerle Baetens as Sara De Roose and Gert Winckelmans as her boss, Simon Van Wijck, at Présence, a prestigious Flemish fashion house in Antwerp. In many ways this telenovela format series resembled Germany’s “Verliebt in Berlin.”
”Ne daj se, Nina”
Croatia: “Ne daj se, Nina” (2007)
Croatia’s “Ne daj se, Nina” (Don’t Give Up, Nina) premiered on October 30, 2007 and was a co-production of FOX Televizija Srbija and RTL Televizije Hrvatska (Croatia) for broadcast in Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Macedonia. The show starred Lana Gojak as Nina Brlek and Robert Kurbaša as her boss, David Glowatzky, at H-Moda, a prestigious fashion house.
Vietnam: “Cô Gái Xâu Xí” (2008)
Vietnam’s 169-episode “Cô Gái Xâu Xí” (Ugly Girl) premiered on VTV3 early on February 11, 2008. The series followed the central plot of the original very closely and starred Ngoc Hiep as Huyen Dieu and Chi Bao as An Dông, the new president of SB Brands Trading J.S.C. The final episode flashed forward to show the protagonists two decades later.