20 moments that prove Ugly Betty was ahead of its time

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The struggle of substance abuse, and the stigma around it

Ugly Betty never shied away from tackling heavy topics, from transitioning to immigration, even murder. One topic they also helped shine a light on was substance abuse, especially alcoholism.

When we’re introduced to Claire Meade, it’s revealed that she has a drinking problem. Claire’s drinking problem comes up a lot throughout the series, and she falls off the wagon more than once. When she’s drinking, she’s disorientated and unpredictable, but when she’s sober she’s a respectable mother and businesswoman.

Her drinking has gotten her into a lot of trouble, too. When the investigation was underway for the murder of Fey Sommers, the prime suspect was Claire Meade, and she was arrested. Everyone assumed drunken Claire was sick of Fey flaunting her affair with Bradford, so she had her killed. But they were just using Claire’s addiction against her.

Claire was drugged by Fey through a perfume that Bradford had given to her. It was supposed to slowly poison Claire until she died, but instead it drove her crazy and she ended up killing Fey.

Not only was Claire’s addiction struggles a topic of interest, but when she meets her long-estranged son Tyler, whom she gave up for adoption, he also struggled with alcoholism. When he comes to New York to meet her and he gets a taste of the Meade family drama, he turns to the bottle, and gets angry and violent.

Christina, the Scottish seamstress and Betty’s bestie, also had to deal with her husband back home being an alcoholic. She left Scotland to move to New York and get away from her abusive drunk of a husband, but he eventually tracks her down. He tells her he’s sober and wants her back.

Christina catches him with drugs, but it turns out it’s because he’s sick. Their relationship isn’t easy, but Christina gets back with him in his time of need.

Ugly Betty didn’t just give one example of addiction, it explored a few different possibilities. Addiction can affect so many parts of your life, and that’s why it was a theme that came up more than once.