What makes a district "ugly"? Mainly, that it's not compact; to a lesser extent, the specific complaint that one or more sections of the district are connected by only a thin bridge. Districts must be contiguous (in fact, that, and rigorously equal populations are about the only strict rules out there), but in one Ohio district along Lake Erie, Democrats are arguing that "when Crane Creek State Park beach is covered during high water" the district doesn't even achieve that.
My feeling? I'm all for ugly districts. Compactness is, to be blunt, a stupid criterion for drawing district lines. Communities of interest, sure; other political jurisdictions, okay; and as far as I'm concerned, whatever political goals the majority has in mind are fine by me. Note that there's a real limit on partisan gerrymandering because while parties collectively want to win as many seats as possible, individual party politicians want very safe districts -- and safe districts require "wasting" votes won in landslides that could have been used to make some other district better for the party. Since politicians are the ones who pass redistricting maps in most cases, the most likely results are bipartisan gerrymanders, which maximize safety for incumbents of both parties at the expense of maximizing partisan gains. That doesn't always happen, but it happens quite often, even when one party controls the entire process.
At any rate, the question of district shape is really separable from the question of whether political goals should be used to write districts, although in practice reformers use the prejudice against "ugly" districts as a constraint against political motivations that they can't get the courts to knock out. Purely on their own merits, however, I see nothing at all wrong with ugly districts.