Why I’m a Shameless Telenovela Fan
…it’s not just about Jaime Camil (pictured left, in green, though he is reason enough).
I came to my telenovela-watching late in life. When I lived in Madrid, we had literally 5 channels and I was a bookworm, so tv really didn’t hold much attraction. And then, after I moved here, our considerably broader American cable still did not include telenovelas.
It wasn’t until my husband and I were in Guatemala, in the process of adopting our older son and daughter, that I really “got” novelas. One afternoon, we were eating lunch, and our son started being fussy, and, to give us a break, the friend we were staying with scooped him out of the high chair in the comedor and into the kitchen where a novela was playing. He immediately stopped crying and watched the drama with rapt attention. Our daughters, too, watched novelas at their foster home (a practice which we credit with our younger daughter’s hilarious former habit of alternatingly play slapping her father across the face and then enthusiastically kissing him).
So at the convenient time of our move last summer, I lobbied to ditch the cable in our area and opt for satellite tv instead, so we could get Spanish-language cartoons, news, and, of course…telenovelas! I don’t watch as much as I’d like (3 kids 3 and under, se acuerdan?), but in the last year, I credit my favorite novelas with teaching me a few important things.
The top five of which are:
1. When something suspicious is going on, look close to home for el culpable. Especially when there’s a fortuna at stake.
2. Beware of el primero con quien te acuestas. You’ll either be stuck with him…or he’ll be back.
3. Life is lived to the fullest when dating a much older/younger person across class divides…sometimes even while comitting social taboos. Besides, the sirvienta might be an heiress and your hermano might not be your hermano after all.
4. When life’s not going your way, yell out a threat followed by “o te corto la cara!“
5. If that fails, desmáyate o desaparécete. That’ll teach ‘em.
In the last year, I’ve followed Querida Enemiga, Al Diablo Con Los Guapos, and Las Tontas No Van Al Cielo . (I’ve also heard very fun things about Cuentame Como Paso…pero el tiempo todavia no me alcanza para seguirla)
What about you- do you telenovela, too? Sure, the plots are over-the-top, but I can recognize rasgos de mis seres queridos in them, sin duda. And they fill a cultura-shaped hole and a want for español for me, to boot.