This is a class blog run by Dr. Carolina Acosta-Alzuru and her students in the First Year Odyssey Seminar "More than Melodramas: Telenovelas"



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Social Issues in Telenovelas

Because telenovelas reach such a vast audience, I really appreciate that many use that stage to address very important social issues. One particular example is the telenovela La Mujer Perfecta, in which the protagonist had Asperger’s Syndrome. The way in which they portrayed this was done very well and accurately, which is important as the goal is to educate people about this form of autism. I really like that they chose to incorporate this element into the telenovela, but they also chose to make her the protagonist and to depict Asperger’s Syndrome within the realms of the traditional telenovela love story, as this normalizes it and really conveys the message that the telenovela is aiming at demonstrating, which is that people with Asperger’s are not weird or abnormal, they are just different, which is a very important message.


I was very surprised to learn about the heavy censorship of telenovelas that occurred in Venezuela, especially when I learned that government censorship became such a strong driving force of fear for telenovela producers that self-censorship became stronger than government censorship. The fact that there was an important Venezuelan writer, Leonardo Padrón, in the telenovela industry who continued to write nuanced work that somehow managed to get past all of the censorship so that he could continue to convey important social messages to the audience is very brave and inspiring. I think that the social medium available to those who write and produce telenovelas is a very important one and that Leonardo Padrón chose to continue using in, despite the fact that it could be potentially dangerous considering the political climate, is honorable and gives me a greater appreciation for telenovela writers.  

Telenovelas Ability to Globalize the World

It's crazy to think that all stories have been passed down from one generation to another or one culture to another. A prime example is the story of Cinderella, a young girl with a good heart placed in the hands of an evil step-mother. This tale that was originally told by an American audience is seen mimicked throughout many countries and incorporated into television shows. This idea of an evil stepmother is extremely popular in telenovelas. This plot is so successful because it's extremely relatable. A successful show strives to connect with an audience and aims to reel the viewers in with compatibility. One line that I found agreeable in the Globalization pdf file was, "if novelas often draw on the harsh realities of life in parts of Latin America, their plotlines still generally devolve into sentimental fairy tales... happy endings are all but certain." Like Senora Acosta stated, many telenovelas try to limit the true idea of harshness in some poor latino countries. Governments would be overwhelmed with anger if other countries were able to see the side of the country they so desperately try to conceal.

Its a pattern

The experience and the knowledge that I gained during this course was very eye opening. And using that newly acquired knowledge, I began to understand the rhythm of a telenovela. Most telenovelas follow a similar story, the classical Romeo and Juliet, or the classic fairy tales. The rhythm isn’t only for the telenovela as a whole but also individual relationships between characters. With this reoccurring pattern we can learn the telenovela and try to foreshadow how the events will happen instead of what event will happen. Since this reoccurrence is seen throughout most telenovelas, the only way that each can distinguish themselves is through the hows; the how did certain events happen since most events are similar. This is what distinguishes the good remakes from the bad ones. The interest of the views is focused on how the producer will make the remake unique and at the same time how loyal they are to the original production. It fascinates me because every next scene is a total mystery yet a ghost at the same time. 

Hidden Messages

After beginning to watch my telenovela for the second time, I began to realize the ideas that the telenovela is trying to get across to the consumers, the television audience. In the telenovela that I am watching, La Fea Mas Bella, the concept of body image is shown from scene to scene. The minor characters from the telenovela are composed of the models and a little inside club, el club de las feas (The Ugly Club). In almost every scene either a model or a member of the club was present and side by side. The juxtaposition in those scenes was evident due to the strong friction between both worlds and by the frequency of scenes involving them. By comparing these two different character groups, the telenovela producers are targeting the female population to encourage them to be proud of the way they are because the members of the club are more liked than the models. The models represent the vision of the perfect female body from society and with them, the consequences that they bring. Such consequences are diseases such anorexia and bulimia that affect many teenage girls all over the world. This isn’t the only problem that the producers allude to, there are many global issues all throughout every single telenovela. If you don’t think that your particular telenovela isn’t hinting at anything, look closer into the characters and watch their surroundings to become aware if there is perhaps a social criticism. 
By being Latino I have seen a lot of Telenovelas throughout my life. I have seen Mexican, Columbian and even some Venezuelan productions that have been shown on United States television. I have many favorites and although most of the telenovelas follow a similar story, they each have their own twist on characters. Some remakes of famous telenovelas become just as popular as their predecessor because of small changes in certain characters. For example in Betty La Fea and La Fea Mas Bella, Don Fernando, the main protagonist, is seen as a more serious man in the Columbian original while in the Mexican remake he has a sense of humor that made him a favorite among the public. Because of this, I enjoy watching the originals and the remakes to compare certain characters and to see who closely the remake mimics the original. If your telenovela has a remake, compare and contrast certain characters to see the overall difference in popularity in both telenovelas. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

My Telenovela

My telenovela is developing at a very fast rate. So much has happened in the first few episodes, it's kinda hard to keep up. It has my attention though so that's good. I hate the protagonist's brother. He's too jealous and immature. It really gets on my nerves. The mother is really mean too but I think she means well. I honestly think the protagonist is too naive and she's going to find a lot more trouble than she already has encountered. I hope the best for her in the end.
Today in class, I thought it was lame how some telenovelas had completely ripped off other successful television shows. There was no originality. I also thought it was corny how in the end of some telenovelas, the term "Fin" would actually show on the screen.

Chávez Puts His Foot Down

Telenovelas are regulated by the government, which has caused Venezuela's production of series to decline. Many Networks have had to close down because Hugo Chávez has enforced too many regulations and rules. For instance, if an episode talks poorly of the country, they have to cut that part out in order to prevent the world from thinking Venezuela's poor. During the last few months of the popular telenovela Cosita Rica, the government pressured the network to supervise the script. The writer of Cosita Rica used one of the characters, Olegario to portray Chávez on screen. When Chávez was almost replaced from office, Olegario was almost overthrown and the real world is paralleled in the series. Chávez unfortunately was not replaced, and Venevisión is still has to abide by the strict regulations. Chávez is prohibiting his country from seeing what they want, and that is simply a good telenovela. Hopefully Chávez will stop being so uptight and for the sake of the networks, let's hope that they will have fewer regulations, allowing more networks to form and grow. I'm currently watching Dueños del Paraíso and I am sure that there are more regulations then I realize. Fortunately it is filmed in the US and Chile which has most likely allowed the writers to write more freely.

FYOS entry 3

How The Background Music help me understanding in Telenovelas
When I watching Telenovelas, I am not clear know what they say in the shot. I did not have any idea to listen and understand clearly from listening the Spanish, I never learn Spanish. English subtitles are really helps me to understand what is going on. In order to analysis the character’s personality, sometimes I repeat to listening the character saying over and over again, trying to find what is the character like from his or her reactions. After watch through all of them, I can know the relationship between the characters. But sometime we could fast know the character’s like and what is going on by the background music. When something bad happened or bad character are planning something, the background music usually performs evil, makes audience uncomfortable. If we only listen the background music, we could find it is negative feelings surround us. Music and the picture are more specific demonstrated the details on story telling. So, some shot just have pictures and music without any spoken language, are perfectly telling the character’s emotions. Even my first language is not English, understanding what happening at the first sight, is bad things or good thing are basic on what the music sound like.        

Abismo de Pasion or Canaveral de Pasiones?

After learning about different aspects of producing a telenovela, I became curious about the production process of the telenovela that I am currently watching (Abismo de Pasion). Thus, I began researching more about this particular telenovela and how and why it was created. I also began to observe different areas within the telenovela itself, such as the variety of music and settings.

Abismo de Pasion is a Mexican telenovela that is actually a remake of Canaveral de Pasiones, and both of these telenovelas are based on the two novels, Una Sombra Entre Los Dos and Al Pie Del Altar, written by Caridad Bravo Adams. It was also aired in Brazil as Canavial de Paixoes and in Italy as Amante. Though the names of the characters are different in Canaveral de Pasiones and its remake, Abismo de Pasion, I discovered that the story lines and character developments are almost the same. The ratings and amount of awards won for each of these telenovelas did not even differ much.

Abismo de Pasion almost always includes some sort of music to match the mood of each particular scene. Whether it is intense and loud music in the foreground or a soft, background tune, music is quite prominent. Some scenes also change so abruptly that it is quite apparent that there was indeed a scene change. When this happens, I have wondered as to whether or not certain scenes were removed, thus making the transitions a bit sharp. Perhaps scenes were not deleted but the funding for this telenovela was being highly regulated. Or maybe even the telenovela itself was being regulated by the government, and certain scenes had to be removed before the it could be broadcast. Though my research ran dry in this particular area, it was quite interesting to learn about the origin of Abismo de Pasion and to know that there are other telenovelas similar to it.


Something I find really interesting about the telenovela that I'm studying, "Marimar", is how successful that is was, despite it being a remake of the telenovela, "La Venganza." It was broadcasted on Televisa in 1994, whereas La Venganza was broadcasted in 1977. I also think that it's very interesting that La Venganza and Marimar are both Mexican telenovelas so there was not really a competition between which countries produced the more "successful" telenovela. Taking what we learned from today in class about globalization and remakes, La Venganza was very successful and because of that success, they made a remake of it. The telenovelas were extremely similar and had the same melodramatic storylines. However from what I've taken from readings online, I feel as though Marimar was more successful and is seen as one of the best telenovelas. I find this interesting because I feel as though originals are usually better however not in this case. There was also a remake of Marimar that aired in 2007 and was made in the Philippines due to the high success of the Mexican one.
In my telenovela, I feel as though I'm at the climax because Angélica, Sergio's evil stepmother, belittles Marimar and makes her feel helpless. She's so evil to the point where Angélica calls the police to tell them that Marimar stole a bracelet from her because Sergio worked and earned money so that he and Marimar could escape from Angélica's evil wrath. However, this incident caused Marimar to go to jail. Although this seems rather harsh and very melodramatic over a bracelet, it has to be because it gets us hooked and it makes me want to keep watching to know what happens. Also taking what we learned from class, I know that it won't last long because us, the watchers, would get very bored watching Marimar in jail and not watching the two protagonists "fall in love." The theme in this telenovela that "poor and rich do not get along" is a theme that is seen throughout many telenovelas and is a common theme. But in the end, we all know or hope that the two protagonists will bend that rule because from what we learned in class, "love conquers all."

Why a Telenovela is More Than Just a TV Show

The impact of a telenovela reaches far beyond just being entertainment. It not only serves as an outlet for the writers and producers to comment on political and social problems, but it also serves as a very unifying factor across country, political, and socioeconomic lines. It has the ability to sway opinions on certain issues and raise awareness for others.

The most prominent example of this would be in the telenovela "La Mujer Perfecta." In this telenovela, the main character Micaela suffers from Aspergers syndrome - something that is not extremely common and there is not much funding or awareness about it due to the diagnosed individuals' such high level of functioning. However, by the end of the telenovela not only had it provided an way to raise awareness about the disease, but it unified the people that suffered from it and those whose family and friends suffered from it. Many people before the show aired did not know what Aspergers was and by the end everyone who watched it had some sort of understanding as to what individuals with Aspergers go through on a daily basis.

One of my friends suffers from Aspergers and I was very surprised when we started learning about a telenovela that had a protagonist with such disease. Previously, I had always come in contact with a protagonist who people idolized and wanted to be like. Why would they have the main character have a disease such as this? Through watching many of the clips of scenes I grew to understand why and how Leonardo Padrón wrote this particular telenovela the way he did. Micaela is one of the most captivating characters I have ever seen - even in just those few short scenes. After reading the letters written by parents of children with Aspergers to Mr. Padrón, it was like my friend's mom had been writing them. Then, I truly understood just how important telenovelas are to people and how they can unite communities and shape opinions.


In order to catch an audience's attention, the scriptwriters must create a story and plot that capture the general audience. This includes people from all different types of backgrounds, ranging from categories such as social-economic status, race, age, etc. When most scriptwriters are writing their telenovelas, many are not considering the fact that non-Hispanic viewers are tuning in. Because of the advances in technology, people on the opposite of the world are able to watch telenovelas. This rising global attention to telenovelas is an indicator that proves how popular telenovelas have gotten. They are slowly rising into the Hollywood market. Telenovelas have a wide variety of genres, like American dramas, so audiences of different races are able to watch shows to their own preference. Subtitles in different languages are assisting the globalization of telenovelas. Viewers from around the world are able to empathize with characters in the various situations they are placed in. Because of the rising popularity, writers are beginning to target non-Hispanic countries. They're developing story lines that are more appealing to those outside of the Hispanic countries. Like telenovelas, Korean dramas also are rising in popularity. They are gaining a lot of interest in Hispanic countries and European countries. When I first entered college, I found out that a lot of my hall mates loved Korean dramas. They were fascinated by the culture and asked me a lot of questions about K-Dramas. Marketing for telenovelas are expanding into different networks. I recall a Korean drama website I was on advertising telenovelas. The globalization of telenovelas is spreading the Hispanic culture across the world.

More on Telenovelas

I always knew that Chavez was an uptight ruler, but after last week when we discussed how he wouldn't allow for certain things to air I was honestly shocked. Telenovelas, I think, provide the majority of what is the hispanic culture. Plus people just absolutely love to watch them. A leader that tries to keep their country from being cultured is definitely one that shouldn't be around. I hope for the sake of one of the most important parts of hispanic culture that his opinions soon change.

On a lighter note, my favorite part of watching Les Miserables is how well it appeals to popular culture as well as keeping old traditions. The story line, for the most part, remains the same despite the fact that it is done in such a new way. Without this important aspect, Les Miserables wouldn't appeal to a wide range of people like it does. Young and old people from many different cultures, ours included, are able to sit down and enjoy this show. It has made me appreciate Telenovelas much more than I already did and I'm honestly still extremely excited to keep watching the show.

Breaking Barriers

Globalization is a huge thing in the telenovela world. Some telenovelas are not as successful as others due to the simple truth that they do not adhere to multicultural viewers. Some of the writers and directors do not see that Telenovelas will reach other countries while some writers know that the telenovela they are publishing is strictly for their country and will not or in some cases can NOT be distributed.

Recently I started a new job on campus and started working with a man from Spanish decent. We soon began to have a conversation about telenovelas because I told him I was taking a class on it. He was floored that the class was even offered, and began to get really excited as I told him what I was watching and what we talked about in class. I asked him if he watched telenovelas and before I could even finish my sentence he was spouting off all the many episodes he watches from the time he gets home till he falls asleep he said, "I have telemundo on constantly." This again reassures me that this is a very relevant part of many people's cultures. Never would I have guessed that I would have a conversation about telenovelas with a coworker. He was shocked at how much I knew, and I (for the first time) felt confident about one subject in another culture. This broke down not only a language barrier but a cultural barrier as well.

So in the end my knowledge of telenovelas may not be the most complete, however I do feel as if I have learned many things from the class as well as being able to watch the shows and understand too. I am very thankful for the opportunity I've had to expand my knowledge in a cross-cultural kind of way.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Avenida Brasil: What I'm Noticing So Far

As it becomes closer and closer to choosing a topic on which we want to focus on in our final paper for this class, I am writing a blog post on one of these topics. Character development is crucial for any series or movie in order to be successful and to add discourse to a good plot line. Throughout the course of the show (or in our case, the telenovela) the characters must grow with us. They must change as we change, they must not stay the same from the beginning. They must overcome obstacles and that is how the audience stays interested in the novela.
Avenida Brasil introduces about 5 main characters straight off the back in episode 1. Carminha, Rita, Rita's father, Mona Lisa, and Tufao, Carlito, his wife, his lover, and his daughter. Okay, wow, that is a lot of characters. In the first episode a few things are evident.
Carminha is an evil, shrewd, awful, horrible woman and deserved no good in her lifetime. She is mean to Rita, her stepdaughter, is manipulative towards her husband and is on whole just the worst kind of person you could ever think of. I feel that many relate to the story so far already because we all know a Carminha in our life: whether it's a teacher, a boss, a co-worker, or even our own evil step-mother. This disgust we have for Carminha on the whole in the very beginning sets the stage for worse things to happen as the show progresses. Our mutual hate of her is what bonds the fanbase.
Rita is a cutie but also very sneaky and clever. This is important for the future. Since I already know she's going to be coming back for revenge from Carminha, seeing this early on is good because I know it is a character trait she was either born with or developed early. When she skips school to see what Carminha is up to once her father leaves for work I know that Rita is only going to get better and better as she ages with how clever and cunning she will be. She is very persuasive even though her father does not believe her at first about what Carminha is plotting.
Rita's Father is very loving abut very naive to who Carminha really is. Later on he does realize to a certain extent but of course the manipulatve nature of Carminha pulled him back into her talons. We are a little angered by Rita's father at first for not believing his daughter and choosing the side of Carminha over Rita.
These are just a few of the characters I chose to focus on for this particular blog post because they are essential to the story line and plot of the entire novela. Of course Tufao is also important, as he is about to get married to Mona Lisa but at this point in the story he seems irrelevant to the lives of Rita and her family except for in the way that soccer is the common theme that relates them all. Later, of course we see what Tufao's true role in the telenovela is. Their character development is what makes or breaks the show and seeing them so raw and uninhibited at first glance is what it takes to really appreciate who they will become as the telenovela progresses.

The Gift of Freedom Of Speech

After learning about President Hugo Chavez's unrealistic restrictions thrust upon Venezuela's telenovelas, I cannot find the words to express how thankful I am to live in a country that allows its citizens to have freedom of speech and more importantly freedom of opinion. The telenovela within itself should be allowed to express a true picture of the feelings, struggles, and lives of people of all countries. It should be allowed to portray the human condition without such harsh restrictions on the content of the telenovela. Whether or not people choose to accept it, the countries/regions/areas in which people live affects who they are, their actions, their thoughts, and their livelihood. If telenovelas are not allowed to reflect these opinions, how are they ever to be successful?
People, people's feelings, people's opinions, people's conditions are what allow telenovelas to be entertaining and even draw the attention of viewers. If said things are not allowed to be related to what is happening and where they are, than what is the true point of a telenovela?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Production and Dedication

Production in Telenovelas impressed me. I had no idea how much blood, sweat and tears went into making the visuals. I learned a lot about the roles of each person on the set and how important it is that each person get the job done right. One interesting fact I learned was that the scenes of the telenovelas are not filmed in order all of the time. They are filmed in ways that are convenient for the actors so they do not have to move around as much. With that being said, there is a lot of editing that has to be done. I thought it was cool how they would film in the city for some scenes and then in the Amazon. The camera crew were working extremely hard in extreme heat, practically working out, to make sure everything was proper. 
The Director wants to make sure everything is perfect. If one small thing goes wrong, the actors have to redo the scene over and over until they get it exactly right. I'm sure that can be tedious. Sometimes, the actors are on set for 12 or more hours! I couldn't do that...well maybe if I had a beautiful actress by my side. lol. Everybody on the set has to be dedicated.

My Understanding of Telenovela Production

The production process of telenovelas is very complex. When watching, we don't see how much time and effort is put into each and every episode. Everyone on set serves a purpose from the actors, to the director, to the "script". Not to be confused with the actual script, the "script" is a person that is responsible for making sure that there are no discrepancies from one scene to another especially when they are continuations of one another. After watching the clips that our professor shot from behind the scenes that showed the inner workings of each scene, I was taken back to this summer when I was on set of the second Drumline movie. There were a lot of similarities, like the different camera types and angles that the scenes were being shot from. I also remember the back and forth, and the pressure on the actors to get it right. I was actually in the band, so I remember having to stand in the hot sun for hours as we shot the scenes over and over in full uniform. We also dealt with twelve to fifteen hour days that sometimes put us on a nocturnal schedule. I think that this experience helped me to understand the production of telenovelas better.

Love and War

Dueños de Paraíso follows Anastasia Cardona as she escapes from Mexico, after being attacked by gunmen. After the attack, the men break into her house and rape her as her husband has fled the country to Miami leaving her alone to die. Anastasia realizes it is not safe in Mexico, which leads to her departure for the United States. As she travels through security, while smuggling cocaine into the country, she is stopped by a TSA agent her bags are searched. Her mother however is the one carrying the cocaine in her bags, which allows them to slip by security check.

Anastasia and her husband Nataniel Cardona, a big time cocaine dealer, are reunited in Miami where they rent a mansion. While at the mansion, the first love triangle appears in the show between Nataniel, his personal assistant, Gina Bianchi, and his wife Anastasia. Anastasia quickly learns about this when she accidentally over hears Gina speaking on the phone to her sister saying that she will be having Nataniel's baby. Outraged and infuriated, Anastasia proceeds to end the triangle by murdering her very own husband. The audience can quickly learn that Anastasia is not innocent and that she will do anything to anyone that betrays her. After her husbands death Anastasia works diligently to take over her husbands job and become the most powerful cocaine dealer that Miami has ever met.

Nataniel has been in war with the head of the Santa Norma hotel, Leandro Quezada, and is the reason why Anastasia has to deal with the "war" between her husband and his enemy. Leandro has his men steal the casket that Nataniel's body is in to make sure he is dead and to in a way kill him again. Anastasia then teams up with her new partner Conrado as they try and claim territory over Miami.

Telenovelas' Distinguishing Factors

There are many things that can differentiate telenovelas from one another. They all fall into different categories such as country of production, the allotted budget, the country of origin of the cast, broadcast time slot, age group, and time period in which the story is set. One of the biggest distinguishing factors is whether the telenovela is a rosa or a de ruptura. The telenovela rosa is a much more traditional type of story and usually centers around a cinderella and her wealthy prince who fall in love. The telenovela de ruptura is a telenovela with a twist. They center more around social issues or an unconventional storyline. However, many telenovelas try to incorporate both aspects to their story.

While I do love an unconventional story, for my telenovela choice I stuck to a very traditional cinderella story. I chose the telenovela, "Una Maid en Manhattan." Going through this course I have started to notice many of the themes Dr. A talks about are very closely tied with my telenovela. I have started noticing the music, the mini cliff-hangers before every commercial, and the subtle social issues present in each episode. I even did some research on which country the main actors are from and what other telenovelas they had done.

Production of the Telenovela

Taking everything that we learned from class, I really focused on all that went into the telenovela that I was researching. Before I chose my telenovela, I researched on the internet the most popular telenovelas and ones that had good reviews. This is a huge part in the telenovela production: if it successful or not. Because if it isn't, then the producers have to make a character "die" or change the characters so that the audience likes the telenovela. I also found it interesting how Miramar got such good reviews and watched all over even though it was produced in Mexico.
When I first started watching Marimar, you could immediately see the typical, melodramatic storyline of a poor, beautiful girl and a rich, attractive guy. Right from the first episode of this telenovela, I was able to see that there was going to be a feud between Marimar, and Sergio (the boy) because of their different levels of "society's hierarchy." I'm only so many episodes into this telenovela so the big plot twist hasn't happened yet, but I'm curious to see what it will be as I can already tell and taking what I've learned from this class, I know that they will eventually break up (probably from his evil stepmother, Angelica) and then end up falling back in love.
Sometimes, I also have difficulty understanding exactly what's going on, because there are no subtitles in English nor Spanish. I can usually read the subtitles if they're in Spanish but sometimes they speak so fast and I've only visited Spain and I talk to my best friend in Spain and I've gotten used to their accents, so sometimes I have trouble. But I can still see and understand the basics of what are going on. After learning about the production of telenovelas and how much time goes into them and all the time that goes into writing the scripts, casting actors, and shooting it, it makes me enjoy it much more especially because they do it so quickly. Also because this telenovela was broadcasted in 1994, a lot of their scenes are often in similar places and a lot of the shots take place outside near Marimar's house, which is on the beach, and Sergio'a mansion. Overall though, I'm excited to keep watching and I'm eager to find out what Angelica does to Marimar and how it'll cause disputes between her and Sergio!

Telenovela Production

When the audience watches a telenovela, no one really thinks about all of the work done behind the scenes. The process of getting the telenovela aired is not something the audience thinks about. There are so many people that invest a lot of time and money into the making of one telenovela. This process is much like an entrepreneurship. These people are making these investments not knowing the outcome. The telenovela may end up being super successful, spreading to other countries and becoming a world-recognized telenovela or it could end up failing miserably. Everything is up to the opinions of the audience. I think that's such a hard job for scriptwriters and casting directors. They have to put themselves in the position or perspective of the audience and figure out exactly what the audience wants. In order to do this, they do extra behind the scene research on the internet, looking at popular opinions on rising stars or best plots. I think it's really hard for scriptwriters to create a unique storyline that will not bore the audience because there is such a wide variety of telenovelas. They have to make sure that it's not the same as another telenovela because it might more the audience. There is so much work put into making just one episode of a telenovela and no one realizes that while watching the program. The risk that these people take in order to entertain the people is amazing. They could end up losing more than they gain, but they take the risk anyways because they want to ensure a telenovela that can be 5 star entertainment. That is so brave and I applaud all of the behind the scene workers for their hard work in establishing such amazing telenovelas.


Just as I explained in my previous blog, I was extremely excited to being watching the show that I had chosen. After watching a couples shows, I am extremely intrigued at how they were able to do everything that they did. You can tell that there is just so much effort and work put into the production of all these shows. The best part about watching the telenovelas is that I can see a lot of similarities between them and American shows. Especially with my show, Los Miserables, it appears very modernly done, which I would say is how most American TV shows are done. This show looks as if it is just straight out of hollywood, which I really enjoy seeing in a show that isn't form America. I would even go as far to say that Los Miserables does a better job than any similar show made in hollywood.

My favorite part about watching this telenovela is seeing how well they incorporate all of the drama into their show. Not only is it scripted well, but the actors are so professional in acting everything out. It's extremely impressive to me and I'm ecstatic to watch even more of this show.

"Abismo de Pasion"

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, not only was I intrigued by telenovelas, but I could not wait to begin watching one and experiencing the 'magic' for myself. Even after learning so much and knowing what to expect when it comes to telenovelas, I still had not fully grasped the amount of emotion portrayed and the amount of emphasized passion that I would encounter while watching one. When a character cries, it is a deep and heartfelt sob. When a character is angry, a boisterous voice is heard and objects are sometimes seen flying across the room. When a character is loving, it is almost as if the viewer can feel the warmth of that character radiating from the TV.

I am only so far into Abismo de Pasion, and I am mesmerized by the constant and abrupt changes seen in each character as well as in each situation. The protagonists and antagonists have not been hard to distinguish between and each have particular characteristics that add to the excitement of the telenovela. Augusto Castanon and Alfonsina Mondragon are the two prominent protagonists of this telenovela, and each show signs of suffering, heartbreak and heartache, and despair. Carmina Castanon, Augusto's sister-in-law, is the most established antagonist that I have seen so far in this telenovela. Very beautiful but very deceptive, she has created many quarrels and much strife between other characters. Initially, one might feel pity for the 'other woman' in the situation, knowing that, in the end, she will remain alone. However, Carmina's evil characteristics of betrayal and deceit allow no room for sympathy.

I am thoroughly enjoying watching Abismo de Pasion, and I cannot wait to see how this particular telenovela unfolds. There have already been deaths, separations, tears, and lies, and I am hoping for a much-needed happy ending.

Behind the Scenes of a Telenovela

I find it incredibly fascinating how Latino telenovelas have integrated into different parts of the world instead of sticking to Latino soil. Over a decade ago, the commercial broadcast television and radio network, NBC, bought out one of the largest Spanish networks called Telemundo. After this purchase, many opportunities opened up for Spanish actors and producers to showcase their talents to the world. Despite the language barrier, I noticed that there are great similarities between telenovelas and American TV shows. Great thought is put into developing a gripping plot to capture the audience's attention. Audiences don't realize the blood, sweat, and tears of months and months of hard work producers and writers must do in order to bring their ideas to life. Also, I underestimated the work hours of the producers and actors. Aurelio Valcarcel Carrol's diagram of inside a telenovela states that actors only have one day off during half a year of production where they dedicate half of the day shooting and perfecting a scene. That's crazy! Usually when viewers fall in love with a specific telenovela, they give all the credit and claps to the actors but without the talent behind the production crew, the telenovela would not exist. I give major props to the post-production crew because they have to piece together six months worth of footage in a month before airing time. This specialized work must be nerve-wrecking because so much effort is instilled in this project and high stakes are involve since audiences tend to have high expectations behind shows they have been anticipating!

Production of Telenovelas

Exactly what I expected! Telenovelas production is described in detail in the magazine article from Hispanic Executive Magazine. This articles tells about how popular telenovelas have become especially because of growing diversity in the telenovela industry. This interesting article also provides a timeline of how telenovelas are made with plenty of preparation. From 2-3 months of scripting then 6 months of filming followed by actually air time, THEN all of the following can be changed or re-casted due to the popularity or non-popularity of the telenovelas most of the time to make plenty of money. We learn about what's in the telenovelas, but actually learning about the production, casting, and airing of the telenovelas is what is uniquely interesting to me. All of this to say that these actors put a lot of time and effort into their series to sometimes just be cut off or hated by the public.

The Inner Workings of the Telenovela

       Each day, I run out on the elliptical while watching "La Familia De Al Lado," and I do not know if it is the sweat in my eyes or the weariness of my body and brain that is deceiving me, or is the real love story of this telenovela between Gonzalo and Pilar?? The love between Ignacia and Gonzalo might have been the focus at the beginning, but once I dove deeper and deeper into the plot line of the story, I find myself rooting against the relationships of Pilar and Javier and Igancia and Gonzalo. The soothing smile of Gonzalo should not be the one to comfort his cheating wife who could be pregnant with another man's baby or even a murderer, but it should be the one that is like a safe haven to the brutally battered Pilar who is lost in a loveless marriage and trapped in a prison-like home. The inner workings of the telenovela really have grabbed me and interested me much more than I thought they would. Sure, they might be sometimes overly dramatic and almost fake, but for that moment it allows me to focus on a different kind of pain rather than the burning feeling in my shaking thighs.

Telenovelas: Not just a a form of entertainment

My father would always poke fun at my mother for coming home after a long day's work and immediately grabbing her iPad, sitting down, propping her feet up, and watching her Bengali Soap Operas. He thought the shows were mindless and a waste of time for housewives and women to be crowded around the television when they could be doing something more important like, I don't know, feeding her kids. I agreed with him to a certain extent just watching my mother become so obsessed and completely consumed by another woman's life on a little screen. 
This past summer I was in Bangladesh for the entirety of the summer. Here, I also observed women all over the country huddle around the television every night to catch their favorite episodes of multiple shows. I occasionally would walk by and join my aunts and cousins, my mother, and neighbors to watch these addicting tv series, or as I now know them as telenovelas. There was a phenomenon I noticed, however. The influence these novelas had on the public was astonishing. There was one girl in one of the series that would always wear these beautiful, unique dresses. Before we knew it, these dresses hit the markets and every. Single. Girl. In the country, just HAD to have these dresses. They were then called Paki dresses, after the main character's name, Paki (which weirdly means "bird" in Bengali). In my own city alone, there were riots and suicides that were occurring over not being able to have these Paki dresses. A little girl killed herself because her father couldn't afford to buy her one for Eid, a national holiday in Bangladesh. A housewife did the same when her husband refused to feed into her obsession with the show by allowing her to purchase one. I felt really guilty because for Eid my own mother and family bought me four of these dresses 
It just goes to show how serious these novelas really are and the effect they have. This, I believe, was a negative way to show the effects of novelas on the population. It was used more in an economic way to encourage consumerism. In class we learned about telenovelas that served to educate and inform people about various issues, like participating in the census, diabetes, Asperger's, cancer...etc. I believe that is a great way to utilize these telenovelas that have been sweeping nations to the advantage of knowledge. I wish that all telenovelas would have some element of positivity, to teach and educate people about things that they otherwise would know little to nothing about. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Telenovelas- A 'Not-So-Spanish Soap Opera'

When I originally signed up for this class, it was merely out of necessity. I put off taking an FYOS course simply because I did not want to take another class that, in my opinion, seemed pointless after having to take so many of them in high school. Needless to say, I had no idea what the name of the course even was aside from the fact that it was an FYOS. When I arrived to class the first day and discovered that I would be taking a course concerning what I concluded as a 'Spanish soap opera', I was not very enthusiastic. These were the sort of shows that my brother and I would briefly joke about as we flipped channels and passed over one that was playing a telenovela. 

Now I know that my views were both ignorant and hypocritical. In the past three weeks, I have learned many different aspects concerning telenovelas- from specific themes and story lines to the cultures surrounding them. Many telenovelas even follow a basic 'Cinderella' theme-one that I have loved for years-where some damsel in distress gets her prince charming, despite all obstacles, and lives happily ever after. I have also discovered that getting hooked on a telenovela is no different from the way one gets hooked on a specific TV show. I dare not say how many hours I have wasted with my nose in front of a TV watching endless episodes of some Netflix drama, and I am sure that, once hooked on telenovelas, I will be wasting many more. 

I am intrigued by this concept of a telenovela- a concept very new to me. Thus, I have retracted my previous remarks about this 'not-so-Spanish soap opera'. I am looking forward to learning more and more about the telenovela and its mysterious attraction. 


When I originally signed up for this class I was very unsure about what I was getting myself into. However, after the last couple of classes and some research to find the show that I finally decided I would write my paper on, my skepticism faded. My interest has definitely peaked, and I am excited to learn even more about these types of shows.

My grandfather was from the Philippines, so that side of the family is extremely dramatic. When they are angry, they are extremely angry. When they are happy, you would think they just won the lottery. Every emotion is almost overly expressed, so you are never left wondering how they feel. Studying telenovelas reminds me somewhat of my extended family. Everything in these shows seems to be very dramatic and the actors are extremely passionate. I think that this is the root of my interest in these shows. Watching them feels almost just like a family reunion.

I'm looking forward to putting an excessive amount of time into watching the show I chose, and I hope my interest in telenovelas continues to grow overtime.    

Telenovelas... Need we say more?

Telenovelas, what a word! I had no idea what I was signing up for when I chose this First Year Odyssey course. I thought maybe we would watch episodes the whole time, or talk about how telenovelas are so much like soap operas, little did I know that I soon would become fascinated with this topic, and drawn into the many different cultures of telenovelas.

When fellow students ask me what FYOS I was taking, I simply tell them telenovelas to see what their response will be. Most are confused, others laugh, and a lot say, "Spanish Soap Operas?" So I simply tell them what I've learned in the few classes we have taken. Some are enthralled by the details I give them, and others find it silly that I would enjoy such a thing, however I enjoy their petty debates and rebuttals.

One of the things I find most interesting about telenovelas is that although all telenovelas follow the same pattern, each one plays their story in a different way drawing the audience in closer and closer until soon they are addicted and just have to watch the story unfold. I feel like telenovelas are under represented to American teenage girls, because I know how much my friends love the drama of the TV shows they watch so I feel as if they would love telenovelas that much more.

In the end I am looking forward to how each week unfolds as I learn more about telenovelas, and who knows I may be hooked on them now too.


When I first signed up for this, I didn't know what to expect because I don't know much about telenovelas. However, I love Spanish and I'm hoping to minor in it, therefore I figured this would be a helpful class. I've never watched any Soap Operas before so I've never known the differences between the two, let alone if there were any so learning the how different they are have really changed my perspectives on the two. About a year ago, I traveled to Spain on an exchange program, which is where my love for Spain and speaking Spanish sprouted. I got super close to my family there, so I went back again this past summer and stayed with them. I loved learning about their culture and way of life and it came to the point where I felt like I was becoming accustomed to their lifestyle. I had made a new group of friends there and in fact my exchange student to this day is one of my best friends and I talk to her almost everyday. I thought watching telenovelas would help improve my Spanish and I thought that it would be interesting to talk to her about them especially because I know she and her family watch them.
When choosing a telenovela to watch and study this semester, I of course went and talked to my Spanish friends about which one they liked and watched. I also asked her not only which ones she liked but I asked her general questions about watching them too. She told me that her favorite telenovela series was "Rebelde" and that her family often watched them together, but her mother and grandma often watched them more together. Their popularity there is much higher than it is and will ever be here. When searching for a telenovela to watch, there were so many and they all seemed to have the same plot about a poor girl falling in love with a rich guy. Therefore I was stuck between "Marimar" "La Usurpadora" "Luz Clarita" and many others. However, I chose to watch Marimar, which is about a poor girl who lives on the beach and one day meets the handsome rich boy and falls in love. He lives with an evil family who won't let him escape and therefore he marries her (poor, uneducated) to make his family even more angry. I think that watching this telenovela will not only improve my Spanish, but will help me form a deeper understanding of telenovelas and why they're so important.

Telenovelas and Korean dramas

When I was signing up for this class, I wasn't really expecting much. To be completely honest, I wasn't necessarily interested in the topic, but after my first class, I found that telenovelas are actually really interesting. I guess I never really bothered to take interest in them because they're in Spanish. As we went over all of the different genres of telenovelas and the factors that contribute to their making, I realized that telenovelas are extremely similar to Korean dramas. I'm not exactly sure, but I feel like Korean dramas stem from telenovelas or were inspired by them. The different plots we went over like the prince and the pauper or Romeo and Juliet are all similar to plots in Korean dramas that I've watched. After realizing this similarity, I'm more interested in telenovelas. They seem very interesting and I like that there's such a wide variety of genres I can choose from. From horror to romance, there's such an abundance that I don't even know where to begin!

Growing up in a Korean household, my mom was always watching Korean dramas. Because of this, I grew up watching scenes of an evil stepmom splashing water onto her daughter-in-law's face or twins switched at birth. The short clips of scenes from telenovelas remind me of all of the dramas I've watched in the past. The dramatic music and the over-dramatized scenes are so familiar to me. A lot of the scenes seem ridiculous because there's a lot of emphasis put into the actors' facial expressions, tone of voice, and background music, but it's entertaining and once you get into it, you can't stop! After watching one episode, I found myself getting hooked because I wanted to know what horrible thing could happen next. I noticed that there's no end to all of the misfortune a protagonist undergoes. The fact that the scriptwriters can come up with such a twisted plot amazes me because it takes a lot of skill and talent to write such a dramatic script. I love the way the scriptwriters leave cliffhangers so that the audience will come back for more. Overall, telenovelas are familiar to me because of my past experience with Korean dramas, but they're different in the fact that they are Spanish and have the Spanish culture incorporated in them. I'm excited to learn more about the Spanish culture as I watch telenovelas!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


I grew up in a home with no cable television. This left my family and I with very few options as to what we could watch. I remember we would spend forever searching for something to watch. One thing that always stood out as we flipped through was the Spanish channel. There were always these shows that looked so fascinating, but my dad never would stop and actually watch them. Every once in a while, when it was just me and the television, I would get stuck for a minute, mesmerized by all of the dramatic emotions that were being displayed.
That was about the extent of what I knew about telenovelas before coming into this class. Everyone always assumed they were the equivalent of American soap operas but after these first couple of classes, it has become obvious that they are so much more. I am excited to learn more about telenovelas and the role that they play in the lives of many.

Telenovas: More Than Just A Melodrama

The first thought that comes to mind when I think of the concept of a 'telenova' is the idea of over-dramatic scenes filled with unrealistic events. This narrow-minded vision was completely overturned after I joined this seminar. I admit that I'm avid fan of Netflix and binge-watching television shows but I have never expanded from programs outside of my comfort (and culture). After Senora Acosta introduced us to all the telenovas that have been floating around for almost a century, I couldn't decide which telenova to choose for my final paper. There were so many options: Should I go with the modern remake of Les Miserables (Los Miserables)? Or the Argentinian remake of The Count of Monte Cristo, where a woman seeks revenge against those who wronged her (La Duena)Or a mystery-thriller about a family filled with secrets and deceit (La Casa de al Lado)?

I didn't realize the impact that telenovas had amongst their viewers. Before telenovas existed, people depended on story-telling and passing stories from generation to generation as a way to transport themselves from the up's and down's of life to a world where they could vicariously live through another character. For example, cigar workers in Cuba were able to anticipate their tedious and repetitive schedule after the idea of a hired story-teller would come in and read them a novel. As technology evolved, these stories were able to adapt into radionovelas where Latino audiences could listen in the comfort of their home. As television sets were created, people from around the world were able to tune in on the low-budget telenovas that aired during the daytime and the prime-time telenovas that aired during the nighttime. I find that incredibly exciting that nowadays, multicultural groups are globally homogenizing through the means of television.


Learning about the differences between Telenovelas and Soap Operas has really given me a new appreciation and understanding of Telenovelas. One of the things that I have come to really appreciate about Telenovelas is that while they do tell interesting love stories that grab the audience, they also use their platform to address relevant issues. For example, in the Telenovela that I have begun watching, Rebelde Way, one of the issues discussed is the class division present between the students. Because it is set in a private school, there are some kids who come from wealthy families, while other kids, who go there on scholarship, come from a lower socioeconomic level, thus creating conflict between the richer and the poorer kids. This Telenovela is aimed at a younger, teenage demographic and this issue is one that is very relevant at that age, so the fact that there is a show that addresses this issue gives people something to relate to. With American Soap Operas, there are very view issues that are relatable and they do not very frequently address any problems of relevance to the audience, unlike Telenovelas.  

Fathers, Virgins, and Telenovelas

The premiere of Jane the Virgin really brought Telenovelas to a new light for young adults. Even though as essentially an American show there isn't going to be aired every single day with new episodes, the style of the show is very similar to a telenovela because it is an adaptation of a popular Venezuelan telenovela. Although similar attempts were made before, such as Ugly Betty, it was uncertain how the new generation would react to such an old tradition of Latin American Entertainment.
The results were phenomenal and the show was received with much praise. The actress who plays Jane, Gina Rodriguez, even received a Golden Globe for her performance. The high quality of the show and bright, vivid sets have distinguished telenovelas from a "lowly form of entertainment" for bored housewives in Latin American countries. The history of these telenovelas is vast and complex, and the years of development is reflected in the modern day telenovelas around the world. 
Growing up, I haven't watched many telenovelas, save for the few times I would walk by the living room when my father would have them on. He does not understand a bit of Spanish nor has he ever, but he still enjoys watching the older shows he says because "of their rich storylines and plots." That's where I see history. Where I see richness. I am taking this class to experience the same rich history as my father claims he experiences when watching these telenovelas. I would often ask my father why he watched the novelas if he didn't understand what was being said and he would tell me that these shows were worldwide and not meant for just Spanish speaking people. "You can see it in their actions," he said. "You can tell that when they're flailing their arms around so melodramatically that they're secretly winking to the non-spanish speakers to give them hints as to what is going on." I figured he was just being an old man saying that but now I'm starting to wonder if he actually had a point. Starting off with Jane the Virgin as my first point of reference, I think I have received just a sample of the telenovela fan base experience. I am ready to dive further in and receive it fully. 

The Telenovela: A Refuge From Reality

       Telenovelas create a whole new world for those seeking an escape from realities of the physical world. The fantasy world of a telenovela provides a source of entertainment that relieves people, even if for just a portion of an hour, of relationship stress, emotional turmoil, and sociological burdens of the real world. Telenovela's portrayal of hardships, whether it be in the world of love, economic situations, platonic relationships, or any other situations, allows people to take a break from their reality to invest their attention in the fictional drama before them. From the Rosa telenovelas to the De Ruptura telenovelas, a mental getaway from the happenings of everyday life is offered. Even though the situations portrayed by the telenovelas are emotionally heightened versions of real human conditions, they still strike a cord of empathy in their viewers that then switches their focus from the plights of their own existence to the endeavors of the telenovela's characters.

       One powerful example of telenovelas being able to relinquish focus, emotional and psychological, from the happenings of the real world to those of a fictional world was found in the small factories of Cuba.
Cuban women used to spend numerous hours a day hand rolling Cuban cigars, a task that was not only mind-numbingly boring but also tedious and difficult to endure. "Radio-novelas," which are dramatic readings of literature done over the radio (so basically a telenovela without the visual image), provided mental relief for these laboring women. Physically, they still preformed their tasks, but mentally, they were able to focus on the events of a life story that is not their own and involved riveting tales of love and human experiences in another setting. In this situation, a form a telenovelas relinquished these women of their own present hardship by presenting them an escape from reality to a world of numerous, ever-changing stories of love and humanity.

Las Telenovelas

As I signed up to take this class, I thought that it would be a good class to take since I am minoring in Spanish. I thought that we would be watching a telenovela in class and discussing it, which would help me practice my spanish. My idea of the typical telenovela was the American Soap Opera. Growing up, my mom has been following the show "Days of Our Lives." Sure, I have seen it in the past when she has watching it, but the whole time I have just thought of how corny the whole thing is. However, now that I have learned that Telenovelas and Soap Operas are not the same at all, I completely understand why the Telenovela is so successful.

The telenovela does not continue on over the course of a few years. Instead, it has an unlimited number of shows that typically stop around 120 episodes. This makes so much more sense to me then having the typical soap opera, like General Hospital whose series has been continuing on for years, but has not drawn any real conclusions that will make its viewers finally satisfied.

The particular Telenovela that I will be studying this semester is the new show Dueños del Paraíso, which will be telling the story of Anastasia Cardona getting involved in the drug business as she tries to take over the South Florida territory. The setting takes place in the late seventies and eighties, as Anastasia she tries to become the most powerful woman in the world.

Telenovelas v. Soap Operas

Coming into this class, I knew nothing about telenovelas. I assumed they were simply American soap operas but in Spanish. After all, they are both melodramatic, delivered in installments, and both have an extreme love story. However, telenovelas are broadcast in prime time while American soap operas air during the day. American soap operas never end while telenovelas are more similar to drawn out movies with around 120 episodes and no seasons.

When I was younger, my mom would watch the soap opera General Hospital every day so I roughly knew some of the plot. When Dr. A mentioned the story line of the famous couple Luke and Laura, I immediately made a connection. Tony Geary has played Luke Spencer since 1978. Telenovela actors are much different. They can transform into different roles for each telenovela in which they are cast. I found the comparison between the American soap opera and telenovelas to be extremely interesting – mostly because I felt as if I had some kind of understanding of the soap opera.

Because of this small understanding I had for the soap opera, it was easier to recognize the similarities and differences between the two methods of entertainment. I realized the large impact telenovelas have on Spanish culture in comparison to the small impact soap operas have on Americans. Telenovelas for some serve as an escape from the socioeconomic hardships many Spanish countries face, which is a very important quality for entertainment to have in order to be successful.