Vietnam's 175-episode "Cô Gái Xâu Xí" (Ugly Girl) premiered on VTV3 on February 11, 2008. The series starred Ngoc Hiep as Huyen Dieu and Chi Bao as An Dông, the new president of SB Brands Trading J.S.C. This version, like Russia's "Ne Rodis Krasivoy" before it, was very faithful to the story of "Yo soy Betty, la fea". In fact, "Cô Gái Xâu Xí" basically remade the "Betty la fea" episodesof which there were 169practically scene for scene, even though near the end of the run they extended the series a little by adding six extra episodes. This was the first project for which the state-owned VTV partnered with private studios (i.e. BHD and Viet Film). "Cô Gái Xâu Xí" was filmed at Viet Film's studio in Ho Chi Minh City and not at a rented studio, unlike most other Vietnamese television programs. Because of its close adherence to the original plotline, I will not summarize the story synopsis here. You can go to the "Yo soy Betty, la fea" page and just substitute the Colombian characters' names with those of their Vietnamese counterparts, shown in the Cast section below.
- The name Huyen Dieu means "miracle" or "magical" in Vietnamese.
- Huyen Dieu's group of friends is known as G7.
- An example of a small difference between this adaptation and the original series, possibly culturally motivated, occurred in the episode in which An Dông (Armando, in the original) lost a bet with the company's designer, Hung Long (Hugo), and had to go out to a gay bar in drag. In "Betty la fea", "Ne Rodis Krasivoy", "La Fea más bella", and "Sara", that is exactly what happened, but in "Cô Gái Xâu Xí", An Dông refused to allow anyone to see him in the dress that Hung Long had picked out for him, so he ended up wearing it beneath a black cape, and he had the makeup artist put a Harry Potter lightning bolt scar on his forehead. He still went to the gay bar, where Hung Long appeared on stage in drag, as did other bar patrons, but most other people in the scene were dressed in the kinds of costumes you might see at any Halloween costume party in the U.S., at a fancy dress ball in the U.K., or at any other kind of masquerade elsewhere throughout the world.
- Appropriately, this adaptation featured real-life fashion models in prominent roles. Nguyen Binh Minh (right), who played Tien Manh, competed in the 2002/03 Manhunt International competition and finished in the top ten. Phi Thanh Van (Phuong Trinh) worked as a top model and has freely admitted that she owes her beauty to the wonders of plastic surgery. Ly Anh Tuan (Dang Duong), Trinh Kim Chi (Huyen Thu), and a number of supporting players also started out as models.
- Phi Thanh Van's real-life husband, Thierry Blanc, appeared on the show in the role of Allan.
- Product placement was featured prominently in the series, particularly during the last few months when the fictional SBBT partnered with the real Vietnamese fashion company, NEW NEM Fashion. Posters for NEW NEM could be seen throughout the SBBT offices and the NEW NEM logo was emblazoned on the wall behind the catwalk during one of Hung Long's fashion shows.
- This series was the first telenovela to be filmed in Vietnam. Although some viewers felt that a length of 175 episodes (3 per week) was too much of a commitment for any series, the high ratings were consistent until the very end. Before the finale even aired, producers were so pleased with their success that they were already planning to create a 120-episode novela that would feature some of the cast members from "Cô Gái Xâu Xí", such as Phi Thanh Van (Phuong Trinh) and Minh Khue (Huong).
- Life imitated art in March 2009 when actor Chi Bao (An Dông) opened a chain of shops to sell fashion accessories with the brand name ZAA. Many of Chi Bao's co-stars from "Cô Gái Xâu Xí" appeared at the official launch celebration for the opening of his first store.
- Singer Thuy Uyen had to spend a lot of time sunbathing in order to darken her skin for the role of Huyen Dieu's friend and fellow G7 member, Dzenda Thuy Van.
- The last episode aired on March 31, 2009. The final scene of the finale was a flash-forward, twenty-something years in the future. In the scene (below right), Huyen Dieu and An Dông sat in their home watching their wedding video on TV. After the video ended, their grown son, who looked just like his father had during his younger days, entered the room and introduced his parents to his girlfriend, who happened to look just like a somewhat nerdy version of Mai Lan, An Dông's ex-fiancée. Many other adaptations had flash-forward scenes in their finales, but those series only jumped about one year into the future. This is the only version in which the child was a male.
- When Huyen Dieu quit her job at SBBT to work for Cam Linh it was to organize the Miss Vietnam 2008 pageant (episodes 121 through 133).
- The series featured four new songs by Quoc Bao, which were sung by pop stars Phuong Thanh, Minh Thuan (who played Ninh Lam), Hong Ngoc, and Lam Truong, who performed the opening theme song.