IT’S TELENOVELAS TIME!
Family secrets, evil stepmothers, forbidden love, suspicious deaths, dangerous affairs, revenge…
Who doesn’t like those stories? Well, you can find everything in a Latin American telenovela, the over dramatic serials, which have hooked most Hispanic people some time in their lives. Different from British soap operas, which have a never-ending storyline, telenovelas are concise. They normally last hundreds of episodes, but no more than a year.
Telenovelas are part of Hispanic culture, not just in Latin America, but also in Spain. I remember in my childhood, sitting on the floor in front of the TV while my mother and my aunt were sewing and commenting what was happening in that day’s episode. When I didn’t want to take a nap that was the only option; you couldn’t go out, you couldn’t make noises and you COULDN’T CHANGE the channel to watch something else. Still now, when I go back home to visit my mom, she would have a break in her chores around 4pm to watch a telenovela – and don’t you dare try to change the channel!
The major producer of telenovelas was always Venezuela, especially, in the 80’s and 90’s. During that time, every Venezuelan had participated or known someone who had participated in a telenovela. Classic ones are Topacio (the blind-orphaned girl who is the true heir of a rich family) or Kassandra (a story of gypsies, twins, revenge and romance). It was a huge industry. However, after Hugo Chavez took the Venezuelan Presidency, this changed due to his control of the media.
The weakness of Venezuelan production gave the opportunity for Colombia to take over the Telenovelas throne. This country became an important producer with great successes such as “Yo soy Betty, la fea”, with dozens versions in the world, like the American version “Ugly Betty”; or the popular “Pasión de Gavilanes” (Passion of Hawks), full of cumbias to listen and dance.
We cannot also forget the important contribution made by Mexico since the very beginning, with the classic “Los ricos también lloran” (The Rich Also Cry, 1979) and during the 90’s when all the telenovelas starred the singer Thalía, like “María, la del barrio”until today when most of the telenovelas are broadcast in the USA.
However, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Spain and every Hispanic country has its own production of telenovelas, in which they show their cities, landscapes, festivities, gastronomy, social problems, and their own particular Spanish.
Telenovelas can be clichéd or predictive, but I think they are a very entertaining way to learn different Hispanic cultures and accents, because they show authentic native Spanish with regional accents and colloquialisms.
Do you know any of the telenovelas mentioned in this blog?
Have you ever been hooked on one of these telenovelas? Where was it from? What was it about?