|Date Released||September 28, 2006 – May 17, 2007|
|Number of Episodes||23|
Ugly Betty, Season 1, Premiered on September 28, 2006 and concluded on May 17, 2007. Ugly Betty follows the daily life of Betty Suarez, a promising college graduate from a struggling Latino family in Queens. She was promptly rejected at a "job interview" at Meade Publications in Manhattan based solely on her appearance. However, company CEO Bradford Meade spots her and has her hired as an executive assistant to his son Daniel Meade, the newly-installed Editor-in-chief at MODE magazine. Although Betty is more interested in Editing than Fashion, she takes the job to get her foot in the door.
Betty finds herself helping Daniel both personally and professionally. Daniel at times has been labeled a "himbo" and a "manwhore". Daniel had always been outshone by his brother Alex Meade. He is not experienced in the fashion industry and was placed as the editor-in-chief of MODE solely based on his family heritage. However, as the story progresses so does Daniel's potential.
Much of the plot early in the season involves suspicions surrounding the death of Daniel's predecessor, Fey Sommers. Fey's death and her involvement with Bradford Meade are used as the backdrop for a scheme to take over the company by Wilhelmina Slater, a former model currently serving as MODE's Creative Director, and a hospital patient swathed in bandages who in the later episodes would be revealed as Daniel's brother Alex, post-gender reassignment. Alex staged his own death, as he feared his family would not accept his decision to undergo the surgery. Now, Alexis avenges herself on her father by helping Wilhelmina frame him for Fey's murder. However, Claire, the family matriarch, confesses to Betty that she was the one who killed Fey, because she could no longer stand to see her husband's infidelity. Claire eventually turns herself in to the authorities in order to release her husband from jail after Betty talks her out of leaving the country.
While being detoxed at a hospital as she prepares to face murder charges, Claire names Alexis as the magazine's co-editor-in-chief in an attempt to improve the relationship between her children and her husband. It is revealed that Claire is MODE's actual owner, after Bradford started the magazine under her name to evade taxes. These circumstances give Wilhelmina a new scheme to drive a deeper wedge into the family by intensifying the Meade sibling rivalry (especially Alexis, who turned on Wilhelmina after sensing that Daniel had changed after all and decided against firing him), and manipulating Claire into signing a Power of Attorney (Claire refused). As a result of this, Wilhelmina decides to romance Bradford by offering him "a little company," manipulating him into divorcing Claire, so she can marry him and take over Meade Publications. The scheme makes Claire furious, prompting her to team up with a fellow inmate named Yoga to make a prison break so she can stop the planned November wedding.
Along the way, Daniel tones down his womanizing ways, but at a price. First, starting with Sofia Reyes, who was hired by his father to launch a new magazine, Modern Young Woman (MYW). Sofia later entices Betty (who is a fan of hers) into working with her. Unfortunately, just as Daniel proposes to her, Betty discovers that Sofia was fooling them both; using Daniel as the subject of a cover story in order to launch the new magazine. The chain of events results in Betty quitting MYW because of Sofia's deception. Daniel later dates lawyer Grace Chin, an old flame he once stood up back in college, after Bradford recommend that she represent him. But thanks to Wilhelmina's scheming and Alexis' hatred for her father, that romance ends quickly as well. After a deceptive scheme by Lena and Petra, a mother/daughter team who tricked him into believing that Petra was a teenager and would almost lose his job, only to be foiled by Betty after she learns that Petra was an adult, Betty told Daniel that he might be a sex addict due to his family problems and recommended that he seek help. Unfortunately, after taking the advice of a doctor who was also a former sex addict, Daniel starts taking medication that he eventually becomes addicted to. Later, he is beaten up by a drug dealer and eventually ends up overdosing on the pills.
In between her conspiring, Wilhelmina also tries to win the approval of her father, (a United States Senator), attempts to discipline her rebellious daughter Nico (who, despite not acknowledging it, shares her mother's traits), and starts a relationship with retail mogul Ted LeBeau (which disintegrates as a result of his own family problems). In addition, she is embroiled in an ongoing rivalry with Italian cosmetics/fashion mogul Fabia, which includes sabotaging an ad campaign, using "duck sauce" as an anti-aging product, and making a trade for a wedding date.
Wilhelmina's former ally, Alexis, has been ostracized and abandoned by her friends post-surgery. Because of her transgender status, she becomes the target of a bet between male patrons at a bar (Wilhelmina punched the winner out). She also has issues with her brother Daniel based on their old sibling rivalry, in addition to all the new developments in their family. Alexis's relationship with her father has also gone downhill, prompting her to hire a hitman to cut the brakes on Bradford's car after he paid a creative director from MODE's Brazilian counterpart, Rodrigo Veloso, to romance Alexis (an idea set up by Wilhelmina). Unfortunately, Alexis ends up taking the car herself after learning of Daniel's drug overdose, and in the process of driving him to a hospital, the two crash into a tree and are left unconscious as the season ends.
Some of Betty's co-workers, particularly receptionist Amanda Tanen and fellow assistant Marc St. James often ridicule her appearance and constantly taunt her. They often easily trick Betty due to her naïveté and trusting nature (she ate gluesticks after being led to believe by Marc that she was eating white chocolate, and showed up to work in a butterfly outfit for Halloween party that was fabricated by the assistant). Despite their dislike for her, the two are willing to work with Betty at times. Their personal issues have been addressed, such as Marc multi-tasking for Wilhelmina, mostly in plotting against Daniel, taking advantage of her takeover plans, taking side jobs by tipping off retailers, and coming out to his mother (who would reject him). Wilhelmina even forces him to test his close relationship with Amanda, leading him to trying to keep the receptionist onboard at MODE.
On the other hand, Amanda was one of Daniel's many paramours, until she realized that he would never commit. In addition to her binge eating she attempted to replace Betty and would find herself the target of a series of pranks made by another Meade employee after she received a Hobble Dress that she thought came from a designer. She also had a relationship with a straight designer named Tavares, who was pretending to be gay so he can get his designs noticed, but would end the relationship after he took advantage of her generosity. Prior to working at MODE, Amanda was an actress (one of her former roles was working as a "Serving Wench" at a restaurant), but when the offers dried up her father got her a "Lifetime Receptionist" job. Amanda would later find out why she got her job after she stumbled upon Fey's secret "Love Dungeon", where she would learn that Fey kept pictures of her as a child and a birth certificate that revealed Fey as Amanda's mother.
Betty did briefly befriend a group of similar outcasts. Her best friend and confidant at MODE is Christina McKinney, the Scottish seamstress. Christina's goal is to be a fashion designer. But in pursuing her goal, she finds herself becoming an unwilling minion of Wilhelmina's when she is coerced (by winning a spot at Fashion Week) into turning a package to the police that results in Bradford's false arrest. Fearing that Wilhelmina will manipulate it to look as if she was responsible, Christina goes along with her bidding to protect her friendship with Betty whom upon discovery she fears will turn on her, which eventually did happen after she invited her to a club. However the two would make up and Christina offered to give Betty any info on Wilhelmina's schemes. Christina would also find herself getting locked up with Amanda after learning that Amanda found the "Love Dungeon", where after the two end up intoxicated, told Amanda that she was married to an insurance auditor back in Scotland and that she walked out on him. Christina would be the one who opened the safe that contained Amanda's birth certificate and photos.
At the Suarez home, Betty's father, Ignacio, is a former chef and ex-boxer whose health problems (he has heart problems and has been warned not to drink any products that has caffeine in it) is one of the reasons Betty needs to work. But after learning that he avoided an HMO provider and discovering that he used the name of a person who had of old 117 years, Betty and Hilda learned that Ignacio is a illegal immigrant who had not applied for residency as he murdered the abusive ex-husband of his[Ignacio's] now deceased wife Rosa (Betty and Hilda's mother) in his home country of Mexico. His residency status, however, depended on responding to romantic tactics from his caseworker, Constance Grady, which would be thwarted after learning that Constance was fired for being too involved in her clients. After an effort to obtain a visa was denied, Ignacio was told to stay in Mexico, unaware that he is currently the target of a revenge plot 30 years after he murdered the banker, now that he has returned to his home country.
All this puts the Suarez family in a legal bind, as they also struggle to deal with Betty's older sister Hilda, who is unemployed after the health supplement company she represented is placed under investigation by the government. In addition, Hilda became the victim of a scam perpetrated by Leah Stillman, an attorney Hilda hired to help Ignacio gain American citizenship. Leah takes a large cash deposit from the family after they retain her services, and then vanishes. After several setbacks in her attempts to find a real job, Hilda later her talent for cosmetology. Hilda and her pre-teen son Justin, whose interests have sparked questions about his sexual orientation, slowly let Justin's father, Santos , a gambler who runs into trouble with loan sharks, work his way back into their lives as he attempts to understand his son. Santos eventually asks Hilda to marry him, and Hilda says yes. Unfortunately, the wedding plans take a tragic turn when Santos is shot and presumably killed trying to foil an armed robbery.
In between these events, Betty also finds herself dealing with a pair of romantic situations. At the beginning of the season, Betty discovers that her long-time boyfriend Walter has cheated on her with her next-door neighbor Gina Gambarro. Betty reluctantly takes him back, but eventually realizes that she had lost her attraction to him and they ultimately parted ways. After the split, Betty thinks that she had found a soulmate in Henry Grubstick, an accountant at Meade Publications. However, Henry's on-again/off-again flame Charlie shows up, prompting Betty to hold off on her pursuit of Henry. But the friction between Henry and Charlie, whose relationship has been on the rocks, heats up as Charlie becomes jealous of Betty and tells her to back off. After seeing a vision in Mexico that she thought was Henry, Betty discovers that he might be the right person for her, and when she returns she tells him that she wants to be with him. Henry and Charlie have just broken up, and he and Betty begin seeing each other. Unfortunately, Charlie shows up in the middle of their first date at Betty's house to say that she is pregnant, crushing Betty's dreams. But Betty later learns that Charlie had been cheating on Henry with Betty's orthodontist, Dr. Gabe Farkas, after Betty introduced him to Charlie at Charlie's birthday party. As Henry and Charlie prepare to go back to Arizona, it is unclear whether Henry or Gabe is the actual father of Charlie's unborn child.
- "Swag" was originally scheduled to be aired as the 4th episode, but was moved to 11th by the network. The change resulted in a number of continuity problems, which were "fixed" by making most of the episode a flashback and adding scenes with Betty telling Christina the bulk of the story. In Italy, Denmark, Spain, India and the Philippines, the episode is retained as the 4th episode.
- On the season 1 DVD box set, "Swag" is listed as episode 4, without the scenes of Betty talking to Christina in a flashback. Other noticeable changes on the DVD were the reversed order of the show's episode chronology: "The Box and the Bunny", which is the second episode, is listed as the third episode, having swapped places with "Queens for a Day". However, "The Box and the Bunny" should be the second episode.