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



Tuesday, January 20, 2015

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. 

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