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, 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.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

My journey on Telenovela

Every cultural is unique. It always shows the diversity of amazing world. Perhaps the most recent advancement of significance has been“Telenonelas”. I am really glad to enter this space, which I never know them before. What is more, I have never know that Spanish, Nor analysis the most representative popular culture of Telenovelas.

Telenovelas are the TV networks popular among the Latin American Most of the audience may think that the Telenovelas are the TV programmer in Spanish as I heard Telenovelas at the first time. After I got the first Telenovelas class, it is quite different from general soap opera. As a soap opera on television, it needs to follow a script on the below in the television. Every couple in the end would have the happy end or bad end are depends on the writer’s mind. In Telenovelas, the end of the stories almost depends on the audiences, which means that if is does not have the full script, that the story could not follow with the beginning the story would have gone. It may have 10 or more episodes at the first. It is really interesting that when the audience are trying build their own story to cheer themselves. The film producer does in this way; maybe it explains why they become more and more popular in the society.  The methods of interact with the audience. Let lot of ordinary people enter into those stories. It is easier to arouse audience’s personal experiences of life. I found that it is formula to become popular and success: feedback + effective action for feedback=popular and success. Not only showing on the Telenovelas, it gives evidence shows on every product. Letting the customers know they are really caring about their feelings, and do their best to provide the best services on every cents of the pay. Like New Balance always have the page that you could design a pair of shoes for yourself. Every apps update about better services on eBay is basic on the costumers’feedback and so on. Feedback services are would become the much important things on Commercial products.

‘No te tomes la vida en serio, al fin y al cabo no saldrás vivo de ella.’ It is traditional saying in Spanish. It means No one could escape from the life until die, so just accepted it. Watching the Television Programme is the usual performance of accepted life in urban. To amuse and follow the people will become most important things on Telenovelas, and the Telenovelas just improve to us.

Monday, January 5, 2015


In this space you will practice the fundamentals of critical thinking via blogging about telenovelas. Your blog entries should reflect your thought process and your learning experience as you go through the course. In other words, your posts should be a thoughtful (and creative) expression of yourself. If you wish, you can complement the entries with images or other media.

Specifically, blog entries will be of two types:
§   Open topic entries: You are free to analyze, comment and/or reflect on any of the topics and readings we will cover in class. You can also write about the telenovela(s) you are analyzing for your class assignments. Be warned that mere description won’t meet my expectations.
§   Responses/comments to entries: A good blog builds a community. In that spirit, you should comment on the entries posted by your classmates or by me, be those open topic entries or responses to others’ posts. Your comments must be substantive and add to the conversation. In other words, merely stating “I agree” or “good point” is not nearly enough.

You must write at least three open topic entries and four responses/comments before the course ends. These entries should be spread out. Therefore, I expect to find at least one new open topic entry written by each of you by:
§   January 21
§   February 4
§   February 18

There are no predetermined deadlines for responses/comments. All are due by February 25.