Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Building Plot of Pablo Escobar

In Pablo Escobar; El Patron Del Mal,  a serious love triangle has finally been introduced and expounded on, but it is an affair that Pablo's wife is only suspicious of, not certain. Pablo's relationship with his mistress, a news anchor with heavy public influence in Columbia at the time, is very dramatic and passionate, and of course all behind the back of Pablo's wife.
As well as the relationship drama, Pablo's political ventures have turned out to be disastrous to his anonymity in the drug trafficking world, and he is being exposed as a massive drug lord by power politicians that oppose his way of business. In the story, I just reach the point of Pablo's resignation from his position in the Columbian government, but only after he is forced to by the public after information of his past arrest is brought into the public light, exposing him for what he really is. This public spotlight causes tension not only between Pablo and the public, but also between Pablo and his associates in the drug trafficking world, who are upset at Pablo for not keeping a low profile like they suggested. As tensions increase, Pablo also has increasingly more problems with his mother and wife, who are both upset with him for the same reasons, and the suspense is killing me between all of the different angles of cliffhangers, I can't wait until I can get back and watch more.

The Finale

    Talking about the increasing level of censuring of telenovellas in class today brought out some feelings of resentment in me. Some of the things we discussed that had to be censured sounded outrageous to me- not being able to say something as small as "lets have a glass of scotch" is baffling. I enjoyed the fact that the telenovella writer did manage to find a few loopholes in the system and get in a jab against the restriction of speech by wording the dialogues differently. A fact that was said that especially stood out to me was that as the restriction of speech and subsequent decline of show production correlated with a steady increase in the crime rate. Overall our discussions of this topic made me feel thankful for the unrestricted television that I am able to access.
     The last episode of a series always brings out some emotions from their viewers. The audience develops a bond with the characters they see as they watch them go through the trials and tribulations of life, and realizing that they will no longer be able to see them feels like losing a friend . I usually call this post-show syndrome. I actually learned a lot more information from this course now that it has come to its own end. I was shown that telenovellas are not simply just telenovellas- they are influential parts of culture, and they capture a snapshot of life in the country. My own mom was talking with me about how in Russia everyone would rush to the TV to catch the latest episode; it was a nightly ritual. Also, I learned how wide spread their influence actually was! They are in every country, and I had no idea that Ugly Betty originally stemmed from a telenovella. During class I was given the opportunity to peer into the life of a foreign country and learn some of their values and beliefs. Not only that, I was able to make connections with the themes and plotlines of the various shows. Walking away from this class I am happy to have taken it as I have learned a lot more than just about telenovellas and how they are produced. Who knows I might continue to watch some more.

The Final Scene

The final scene in any telenovela is incredibly important to the viewer. It is their last glimpse into the lives of the characters that they fell in love with. Because of how telenovelas air one episode every night, most viewers feel strange not watching the telenovela nightly after it ends. Because of this, the audience creates very high expectations for the final scene of a telenovela in their mind and most of the time the telenovela does not meet these expectations. We watched a lot of final scenes today in class that went about wrapping up the telenovelas in multiple different ways. I believe that the reason the writers and directors end the telenovelas in such different ways is because they are trying to surpass these expectations. For example, one of the final scenes we watched was for the telenovela that revolved around the employees at a magazine (I can't remember the name). It was one long shot that consisted of every character describing their fate, the protagonists kissing as the elevator closes, and the production crew taking the set apart. While this is a very different way to end a telenovela than the norm, I think that a majority of viewers were/would be satisfied by it.

That's a Wrap

As we come to the close of this class, I realize that telenovelas are so much more than dramatic scenes and good looking actors. They tell stories, stories that we can all relate to. We find ourselves hooked on them, no matter how many times the storyline has been retold. Each different actor acts the story in a different light. The most interesting things I have learned from the class have been things one doesn't typically think about when talking about telenovelas. For example, last week we learned about regulations, particularly in Venezuela. It never occurred to me how many people were involved in producing telenovelas, I never thought the government would be involved. So many people impact the way the telenovela is produced, how it is written, and ultimately how it is presented. Even with the way they are shot, I never thought about how much worn truly went into telenovelas. From the writing to directing, to adding music and editing, so much has to be done for the show to be perfect. So in that, I really did appreciate this class because it made me realize that for the 40 or so minutes that it takes me to watch an episode, months and months of hard work went in to make that possible.

El Fin

The ending of each telenovela is met with both excitement and sadness; excitement to finally discover the fate of each character and sadness about having to say goodbye to characters that you have grown to know and love. However, like many good things the relationship between the audience and the telenovela must come to an end. The characters, once strangers, are now apart of the lives of the audience and the audience is not ready for things to change. The ending of this relationship is not always received happily, for many the final episode of their beloved telenovela leaves them with nothing but disappointment. Therefore, the responsibility for this "break-up" with the audience falls to the director. The director is left to try to leave the audience content and bring them to terms with the way everything ends. All of his choices from film-style to music contribute to the audience's final view of the telenovela and how they remember it. The director wants to reach the audience one last time in the final episode, and may make decisions based on the intended audience. In the final episode of La Reina del Sur there were two possible endings with only one slight change, the music. The music in one ending reflected the Mexican audience it was aimed toward, however, the music in the final episode that aired in Spain was more symphonic, appealing more to the Spanish audience. This musical choice successfully appealed to both audiences. The ending of a telenovela, like most relationships, is remembered by the way it ended, and a good ending means the difference between being forgotten and being remembered as one of the greats.

Rebelde: Depictions of the Characteristics of Telenovelas

The telenovela I chose to watch for the course was Rebelde. Rebelde centers on a group of teenagers at the Elite Way School that have various conflicts that intertwine with each other. The telenovela was actually a remake of an Argentinian version from 2003. The main cast of Rebelde also form a pop band known as RBD thus the telenovela allowed for greater publicity and sales for the group. Watching this telenovela, I thought I wouldn't become very addicted but I was proven wrong after the first episode. Overall, many aspects of Rebelde reflect the characteristics of a telenovela as discussed in class including many love stories, production, and representation & identity.

One of the major aspects of a telenovela is a love triangle. The main love triangle in Rebelde is between Mia Colucci, Miguel, and Celina. Mia Colucci loves Miguel but he instead decides to be in a relationship with Celina who is one of Mia's closest friends. Miguel however doesn't actually love Celina as he wants more information about Mia's father, Franco. Miguel main purpose in attending Elite Way School was to exact revenge for his father's death and he blames Mia's father for the demise of his father.As a result, Miguel goes expresses fake love to Celina who actually loves him. He gets various pieces of information including a business card and even gets to meet Franco but doesn't express his hatred. Overall, this shows one of the love triangles on the telenovela.

Rebelde has many characteristics of a traditional telenovela production. One example is the emotions as spectacle which is shown with the outgoing personality of the protagonist Mia. Another major characteristic is that almost all of the episodes end with a cliffhanger. One example is when Mia and her friends go on vacation, they go back to her room where they are met with a guest but the audience does not know who it is. The identity of the individual is not revealed until the next episode, thus showing a major characteristic of telenovelas. Another major tradition seen in Rebelde is the usage of telenovela actors that have been in several other telenovelas. An example if Ninel Conde, who plays Alma Rey, has played roles on other telenovelas such as Lo que callamos las mujeres and Como en el cine.

One of the major aspects of representation & identity shown in the telenovela is social class. Students at The Elite Way School can either pay their way in or earn a scholarship. Several cast members have a very poor attitude towards individuals that come into the school with a scholarship. An example of one person who came to the show as a scholarship student is Giovanni who avoids being labeled as a scholarship student by telling fellow classmates lies about the finances of his family in order to make himself better. Thus showing the effect of social class on the personalities of some characters. Miguel, one of the main characters, also gets a scholarship to the school and is a prominent example of a student from the lower class.


Today was a sad day as we wrapped up the last class of our First Year Odyssey: Telenovelas. Though, just like class, telenovelas end too. We learned many interesting facts about ending telenovelas, and how the music foreshadows the event. Foreshadowing is not only very important throughout the whole telenovela, but also in the very end. The finale should put you in a mood where you are content with everything that had happened from beginning to the end. Music plays a large role in making that happen. Directors will change the ending according to the audience also. For example, La Reina del Sur has two endings. One ending has music playing that would fit a more diverse audience, but the other appeals to an audience form the origin of the movie. Both endings were spectacular, and really captivated the audience.


It is usual for viewers to be sad when their show comes to an end. I often fall into a small sadness when I finish a binge-worthy Netflix series. However, I believe that telenovela viewers are exceptionally sad when the show ends. To go from watching a nightly telenovela for months to suddenly not watching at all can have an emotional effect on people. There is usually a strong attachment between viewer and character. Viewers are invested in these fictional lives. Some even feel as if they are a part of their lives; they love, hate, and root for these characters. This often makes both writing and watching a final episode very difficult.

To many diehard telenovela watchers no ending is a good ending. It can be extremely hard to say goodbye after earnestly watching a hundred episodes and getting emotionally attached. Due to their attachment, viewers generally have extremely high expectations for the final episode. This makes creating an acceptable ending very hard for writers. Because of this, telenovela writers often create similar endings. Common endings usually range from a stereotypical wedding scene or a sentimental walk into the sunset. Although most endings are slightly different, all endings have some sort of happy resolution. In Fatmagul Sucu Ne, Fatmagul finally sees her attackers answer for their crimes. She receives an outpouring of support and lives happily ever after with Kerim. I actually found this ending to be extremely satisfying. It was great to see Fatmagul's journey from depression enter into happiness.

Musical Madness

Music is a distinguishing component of a telenovela that always sticks with the audience years after its prime time. A telenovela’s theme song is an audible icon, and the music within the episodes craft the series into what it truly is. Incredibly, music relays passion from shot to shot, and also reveals cultural contexts of the show. In the telenovela Avenida Brasil, the music is critical to its production. The show has a medley of English, Spanish, and Portuguese songs that all play into the drama of every scene. Each character has their own song that furthers their individual personality profile. For example Carminha, the villain of Avenida Brasil, has a menacing song that plays whenever she is on scene or about to be. This song creates tension because the audience knows that when her anthem plays, Carminha is coming to wreak havoc. Music provides foreshadowing frequently in this telenovela. Flashbacks in this telenovela even have their own song as well, and this incites nostalgia that helps tell the story. Interestingly enough, Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain” is the theme for the main protagonist couple, Nina and Jorginho, in the show. This is quite contrasting to the rest of the show because a lot of the music is very Brazilian in nature. Nonetheless, this is yet another example of mini theme songs within the Avenida Brasil. These songs together make the show more distinctive and outstanding. Next time you find yourself watching a television show or movie, take note of how the music shapes the scene. 

"No One is Immune to the Telenovela"

One night as I was watching La Reina Del Sur, my roommate was sitting on the futon working on an assignment. I had the show playing on my laptop. At first she was making fun of me because she only saw the over exaggerated movements but understood nothing because it was all in Spanish. She then kept watching irregularly between study breaks and following the show and not even 14 minutes later, she made me pause the show and catch her up, asking me so many questions after every cliff-hanger. It amazed me how she picked up the story line in the middle of an episode in the middle of a series and still was drawn to the show. That reminded me of what Dr. A said during one of the first classes-- you can start a telenovela in the middle of an episode and still know what's going on. I now cannot watch the show without her, and she texts me with questions or comments regarding how she can't wait to finish the episode. She would have been probably one of the last people I would guess would be hooked on a telenovela.


In my first blog post I talked about how I was not sure how the novela would be able to keep someone hooked for over a hundred episodes. I was not skeptical, but more curious. During the last time that I watched La Reina del Sur I realized that the setting has played a crucial role in the development of the plot. The first few episodes took place in Sinaloa, Mexico, but the setting quickly changes to Melilla, Spain, then again to another city in Spain, and the episodes that I am currently watching take place inside of a prison.
The settings got me thinking about the writers and their collaboration. There is no doubt that writing a telenovela by yourself would be incredibly exhausting, but is having multiple writers perfect solution? This strategy has obviously proven to be successful, but I still have doubts that it is an easy alternative. I guess what I am most curious about is the conflict that arises from having multiple writers. How are ideas received and selected for the final product, or how involved is everyone in any given episode? Definitely something to look into.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Genius Behind the Screen

I don't know about you, but I always forget that there has to be some genius behind all the on screen action that writes these masterpieces in the first place! Unlike my common misconception of the tv process, the actors don't just come out on screen and flawlessly preform a scene out of thin air, but someone has to write all the lines the actors say.

The idea that more than one person writes these episodes took me  a while to grasp. I had no idea that there was a Head Writer who comes up with the main idea for the show and writes a majority of the script, but he has a team behind him of writers who assist him. The writers have to produce a show to air everyday; a task that would be impossible for one man. There are certain people on his team for writing specific characteristics such as dramatic scenes, funny scenes, sad scenes etc... Once this team has come up with a script they are content with, the script then heads to the editing process before it is finally brought in front of the producer and directer to be shot.

In many cases, the writers are the hopeless romantics and creative geniuses who sometimes forget they only have so little times to shoot these episodes. Sadly, some of the writers ideas have to be changed in order for it to plausibly fit within the time frame. This prevents some tension between the producer, director, and writer, but in the end a masterpiece is produced nonetheless even if it wasn't part of the initial vision of the author.

It is important to not forget to give acknowledgment to the many people that appear behind the scenes of these telenovelas. Yes, the actors bring the script to life, but these shows would not exist without the genius of the Head writer and his team!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Practice Makes Perfect

Lights, camera, action! Over and over and over again. They say to never read a book by its cover, and this applies to telenovelas in more than one way. Underlying what the viewer sees on the screen, is hours of blood, sweat, and tears. Okay, well maybe not blood. The work that goes into the production of telenovelas is no easy task, as many people are working together to try and achieve the best possible take of a scene. Not only do the actors have to get into character time and time again, the behind the scene directors, stage managers, and many others are doing everything they can to capture the necessary mood of the on-screen actors and actresses. It is rare that the first take will ever be perfect, because just about any part of a scene, whether it's the people or the props, could go wrong at any moment. The incorrect placement of a hand or the incorrect placement of a pizza delivery can affect a scene, requiring all of the contributors to start over. Not only can on scene errors occur, but also behind the scene errors, such as, the shadow of the boom, the misdirection of a camera, or improper lighting. Many factors contribute to the final product of the telenovela, both positive and negative. When we watch telenovelas, a sense of perfection drifts across the screen, making us believe that nothing could ever go wrong. And that is the ultimate goal of all the behind the scene workers. Perfection is not handed to them, yet it is worked and strived for. And if numerous shots is what it takes to reach this idea of perfection, then so be it, because you know what they say: practice makes perfect.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

La Patrona

The Telenovela I chose to watch for my report is La Patrona. I went in knowing nothing about the plot, and it was safe to say that from the first couple minutes of the first episode, I felt confused and overwhelmed. Within the first couple minutes a man was on the floor dying as his wife coldly watched on, a woman was being harassed in the mine for her work, and a many other characters were introduced without a proper explanation of how all these characters were related to one another and what role these characters played in the entire scheme of the plot. As I watched on, I felt as though there were a couple episodes that were supposed to have been watched before the first episode that would have helped me understand everything that was going on. However, I eventually realized that this is how Telenovelas create cliffhangers and mystery in order to keep the audience watching for the upcoming episodes.

Usually in American television shows, I feel like the characters, their relations to one another, and etc. are all introduced within the first episode to give a clear foundation for the rest of the series. However, in this case because Telenovelas go on for 100+ episodes and the writers need to keep the audience watching, I realized that withholding crucial information from the very first episode is one of the techniques they use to keep going for as many episode as they do.

An example of this would be Fernando's odd obsession with Gabriella from the very first episode. The series showed no previous interaction between the two characters, and because information is withheld for the sake of mystery, I kept on watching in order to figure out exactly why Fernando was so fixated on the female protagonist. The foreshadowing the series provided when showed Gabriella's rape also led the audience to assume that Fernando was the one who raped Gabriella and was the father of her son, David. These subtle hints that eventually weave into a complex, but complete plot once all the ideas are weaved together provide for a very exciting and attentive watching experience, where if the audience looks away for even a couple minutes they are left confused and bewildered.

I also remember learning in class at one point that Telenovelas are contracted in a way that if one were to start in the very middle, they would still be able to get hooked on the show due to the cliffhangers. However, one thing I realized while watching La Patrona was that starting from the middle would not be the best decision due to the fact that some characters tend to die between the beginning and the middle, characters may go missing, change identities, and they may suddenly appear older due to a time-skip. Overall, I enjoyed watching what I have of this Telenovela, and look forward to watching more episodes.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Creation(behind the scenes)

I have a lot of time spent behind the cameras from me accompanying my dad during the filming of his several documentaries. So the information that we went over in class, specifically the effort and countless repetitions of a scene to get it just right, were of no surprise to me. I remember going with my father to shoot a five-second shot of the "Welcome to Georgia" sign over ten times over the course of an hour to make sure it was perfect. But I suppose I cannot be mad considering that this is an art to the directors, producers, and all the individuals involved, so perfection must be attained. The part mentioned during class of how the shadow of the boom mike ruining the shot is also a similar experience that I have shared (I was holding the boom mike). Also during the power-point it was mentioned that the actors and actresses always cared about how they looked on camera, which I would too if I was them, due to which I have had to see countless retakes of the same lines and scenes. 
Even beyond the filming portion of the movie or show, there is always the editing. While I do not have as much first hand experience of this portion, I have been there for the numerous times editors and tech savvy professionals have come over to help edit films and scenes so that they are smooth and pleasing to the audience. In my opinion the editing process is just as important if not more than the filming one since it is what brings all of the pieces together. Overall I feel that the creation of a film or series is infinitely more difficult than what the audience can imagine with all of its moving parts and details that are required to flow in prefect unison. However, when they do the following work of art is beautiful and captures not only the audience's attention but also their emotions and minds.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

La Patrona

I am watching La Patrona and one of the things that I noticed about my telenovela within the first episode was how all of the characters act exactly like stereotypical men and women act, besides the protagonists. The female protagonist differs from traditional stereotypes dramatically. Gabriela is a single mother who works in a mine, which basically means that she is doing the exact opposite of what everyone else expects a woman her age to be doing. In the first episode alone, Gabriela suffers almost constant abuse because of how she is living her life. For example, in the very first scene her ideas to improve the mine get ignored because of her gender and she is then touched inappropriately by a male miner. Alejandro, the male protagonist, also deviates from the behavior of the other men on the show. While all of the other men are loud and obnoxious drunks, Alejandro is quiet and calm. Multiple events take place within the first thirty minutes or so of the first episode where the protagonists are placed side by side with these stereotypical characters and I think the main purpose for having these foils is to help the audience understand who the protagonists are as quickly as possible. For example, at the funeral all of the single women besides Gabriela are busy trying to throw themselves at eligible bachelors while she is only there to grieve. Another example would be when a man in a bar begins to grope Gabriela despite her protests until Alejandro steps in and fights the man and his buddies alongside Gabriela. Both of these encounters and multiple others really help the audience understand these characters well enough so that the audience can become heavily invested in them and want to tune in for the next episode.

NBC's Telenovela: What Is Truly Depicted?

Since December 2015, the American television network NBC has aired a sitcom starring Eva Longoria known as Telenovela. The television series gives a behind the scenes look into the lives of telenovela actors and actresses. The decision making behind greenlighting this television series by NBC can be attributed to globalization and a rising hispanic population in the U.S. With an increasingly globalized world, telenovelas are becoming more popular in foreign markets that are just not inclusive to Latin and South America. Those markets include various European and Asian countries including Turkey which has spawned its own telenovela, Fatmagul. With telenovelas gaining in popularity around the world, NBC executives most likely have been convinced in creating the series after seeing the great expansion of the telenovela to those new markets. Another major factor that may have heavily influenced NBC in greenlighting the show is the growing Hispanic population in the U.S. Overall, the series does have some similarities in regards to the traditional characteristics of telenovelas however it also has major differences in the areas of production.

There are major differences in production between NBC's Telenovela and a traditional telenovela mainly due to the environment of the local media. One of the major differences is the number of episodes American television shows are typically 13 or 22 episodes long per season which translate to roughly around an episode per week from September to May. On the other hand, traditional telenovelas can have hundreds of episodes and be broadcast daily. For example, the telenovela I am analyzing for the class paper is Rebelde which has 440 episodes.Another difference is that Telenovela is only broadcast in primetime while telenovelas can be broadcast during the afternoon and primetime blocks.

NBC's Telenovela is overall an American sitcom but shares several characteristics of traditional telenovelas. One of the aspects depicted is the love "triangle". The lead character, Ana Sofia, is the star of Las Leyes de Pasion which is a telenovela within the series. Her telenovela lover is played by Gael Garnica. Conflict arises when Ana's ex-husband Xavier is hired to be on Las Leyes de Pasion. Thus, forming a "triangle" of conflict between the three characters in the show.  Another similarity between most telenovelas are the usage of beautiful actresses as the protagonist. This is shown with the hiring of Eva Longoria to play Ana Sofia on Telenovela. Many telenovelas in Latin America tend to hire beautiful actors and actresses in a similar way in order to bolster viewership. Overall, NBC's interest in the show further depicts the rising influence of telenovelas in various markets and the hope of attracting new demographics of viewers including the rising Hispanic population.

A Cinderella Story

Everybody loves a happy ending. That is one of the reasons it is in our human nature to cling to the unrealistic hope of experiencing our own "cinderella story." Telenovelas provide the perfect platform for this classic idea of a cinderella story to become a reality.
There are many reasons my the telenovela industry has been so successful when producing this cinderella story type of program. First of all,  a majority of the viewers of these programs come from countries with large rich poor gaps. The idea of an almost forbidden love that breaks with the cultural norms of the society in which the program is produced serves as a beacon of hope for the viewers at home. This hope stems from the idea that the status quo can be broken and love can conquer the socio-economic divide that is so prominent in many of the countries where these programs are watched and produced. A twist of fait or a role reversal of sorts truly resonates with the viewers of these programs since the majority are so accustomed to lives of economic uncertainty.
These ideas previously mentioned are very valid reasons as to why the "cinderella story" has brought so much success to the telenovela industry, but i believe the main reasons this type of plot line continues to prevail is due to the fact that we as viewers cannot resist rooting for the underdog. A telenovela cannot succeed unless the audience truly falls in love with the protagonists and wants what is best for her. The underdog character is the easiest to support because we all want to watch her succeed and complete her "rags to riches" transformation with grace.
Obviously, not all telenovelas tell the  stereotypical tale of the poor naive cinderella making her way from the rural countryside to find love with a wealthy man in the big city. The industry has ingeniously developed many variations of this typical love story to provide for endless hours of entertainment based off one simple plot line. For example, my favorite twist on this classic situation is when the male protagonist takes on the role of the cinderella.
Telenovelas serve as an escape from reality and provide every viewer with the chance to live vicariously through the main characters and achieve their own "cinderella story."

Stereotypes in Telenovelas

     In some cases, telenovelas magnify the stereotypical characteristics given to people in various races, nationalities, genders, occupations, etc. In my telenovela La Reina del Sur, this is especially true. The men are depicted as very macho, especially the leading characters, while the women are generally weaker and more naive. Occupations also define the characters, for example, El Colonel is very commanding, macho, and respectable, however Dris, the club owner, is very sneaky, maniacal, and not at all to be respected. Nationalities are also magnified through the personalities of the characters. Teresa is portrayed as a hot tempered mexican, a stereotype often placed on people from her country. In many cases the telenovela uses the magnification of these stereotypes to increase the drama of the story.
     Although telenovelas like La Reina del Sur place stereotypes on their characters, they also challenge some of them as well. El Colonel is a general from Morocco, and a muslim. The islamic culture is portrayed in the telenovela when Teresa and Fatima visit Morocco to bring Fatima's son to Spain. Although the islamic culture is usually portrayed as very demeaning of women and an extremely patriarchal society, El Colonel is different. He shows great respect to Teresa and even values her as an advisor on several occasions. Telenovelas also challenge the stereotypical role of a women. Teresa is shown as strong and on some occasions more "macho" than Santiago. Creating a character like Teresa also breaks the stereotype of the typical telenovela, it creates a new vision of a female protagonist in a spanish telenovela. La Reina del Sur uses this new idea of a woman to set itself apart from the average telenovela.

Teresa in La Reina Del Sur

Teresa Medoza in La Reina Del Sur is the character that the audience is rooting for. It's impossible not to fall in love with her and to stop yourself from becoming emotionally invested in her success. She is a woman that continues to defy all the odds. The antagonists- the people that want her dead- cannot seem to kill her. She is smart, cunning, and quick thinking. My favorite part about her is that she challenges the traditional roles that women have in telenovelas. Women are typically portrayed as submissive to men, but here, Teresa is arguably just as strong as the men in this illegal drug trade industry. Women are also seen as innocent and vulnerable, susceptible to violence. Time and time again Teresa proves those portrayals to be incorrect. As I watch the episodes, I can't help but feel sorry for her. She puts on a brave front, but her life isn't easy. Since the death of her husband, Teresa has lived this "roller-coaster life". She is always on her feet, never finding real peace. Teresa knows more than the stereotypical telenovela woman, and she demonstrates her knowledge through the actions she takes. She shuts down the idea of "machismo", masculine pride, in Latin American society. I am impressed by her abilities to manipulate people and think for herself, and I think it is wonderful that there are shows that portray women with such a powerful image.

¡Cinco y Acción!

     Those behind the scenes of telenovelas are extraordinary people. On camera, we fall in love with the actors who are falling in love with each other, but it is those in production who invent the magic that makes us become so attached. For every one hour episode, there goes dozens of hours of work that is put into producing the story. Contrary to many American television shows, telenovelas can come out daily-- thus creating a time crunch that regular show do not face. The production crew must have stellar ability in multitasking and thriving in pressured environments. I am amazed that the writers can be creative on the spot to come out with a new episode the next day. Each show is a grueling process, and is by no means effortless. I enjoy seeing  how each camera angle crafts the writers image. I also ask myself the question: Is this really what the author's vision was? It is compelling to look away from the melodrama, and analyze the technical face of telenovelas. 


From the few clips of Avenida Brasil that I was able to find online, I have gotten the general plot of the show. I love it. I really want to binge-watch all of it and drown myself in the tears, angst, romance, and everything that is wonderful about Jorginho and Nina. I ship them with everything that I am, and though I sometimes want to shake him for how many times he misunderstood the situation, and how rude he sometimes was to Nina, I can't help but continue to devote hours upon hours scouring Youtube for more clips of the most perfect couple I've had the pleasure of meeting.

However, with the plot development, and the epiphanies that come with the ever-developing plot, I also wonder if there is character development as well. We've discussed in class before that the stereotypical heroines in telenovelas are those who are basically the damsels in distress. Those are the Cinderella stories that may portray the female protagonist as naive, innocent, and kind, while the male protagonist may be portrayed as very macho, kind, but naive. These characteristics seem to be prevalent in many telenovelas, but my question is do these characteristics remain the same throughout the entire series? Does the female protagonist remain naive and trusting until the very last episode despite all the obstacles that are bound to come her way, or does she change with the flow of the plot, exhibiting a more tough exterior as time passes? Excluding the antagonist, who may or may not be redeemed by the final episode, are the other characters static or dynamic? In regards to Avenida Brasil, I wonder if Nina remains vengeful until her need for justice is satisfied, or if she ever ends up focusing just on her present rather than her past. I look forward to continue my search for the English subtitles episodes in order to find out.

Telenovela on PTSD

         In the telenovela, Fatmagülün Suçu Ne, the main character Fatmagul is gang raped. While most people would consider Fatmagul to be a victim of an atrocious crime, her loved ones treat her as if she were to blame. She subsequently becomes the town outcast and is forced to marry a man that she believes raped her. While the writers of this telenovela initially used Fatmagul to represent victim shaming and/or victim blaming, they now use her character to represent much more. Although the writers want to draw attention to the social injustice of rape, they also draw attention to the aftermath. As the show progresses, viewers can not only see the physical toll of rape, but the emotional one as well.
        Throughout the episodes, Fatmagul is drained of life. Her misery is evident for she continuously cries and can't bare to have anyone touch her. She is not only a victim of rape, but also post traumatic stress disorder. Fatmagul and Kerim eventually move to Istanbul to try to start a new life. While they are in a new environment, the rape still haunts both Kerim and Fatmagul. Although Kerim quickly falls in love with Fatmagul, he still feels shame for not helping her. Fatmagul also carries the same shame and hates Kerim for being involved in her assault.
      While I was watching these episodes, I couldn't help but feel sorry for Kerim. He loves a woman who hates him and feels guilty for her attack. I found myself secretly hating Fatmagul for not reciprocating his love; I couldn't understand why Fatmagul couldn't love Kerim. Then I realized that she is still a rape victim. Acts like loving, trusting, smiling, touching etc. would be extremely hard for Fatmagul. It would be rather unnatural and unrealistic for her to immediately fall in love with Kerim. I believe that the writers are suggesting that society forgets the toll sexual assault has on people. Unlike other crimes, I believe that sexual assault is the most traumatic because it is an extremely personal crime. It robs people of their ability to trust. While I want Fatmagul to get over her PTSD and fully love Kerim, I have to realize that all victims heal on their own time.

Telenovelas: An Instructional Experience

Learning a language is a process that takes time. One cannot simply sit down for a day and suddenly become fluent in a foreign language. Like all other endeavors, there are many routes in which one can take to speak another language, whether it is reading instructional books, watching tutorial videos, or implementing the language into their daily lives for practice. Whichever route is taken, they all require tedious repetition and constant practice, making the idea of learning a language seem difficult and arduous, taking a ridiculous amount of time. What is the answer to all this treachery that could take the arduous labor away, making learning a language seem easy and enjoyable? Telenovelas. Although these drama packed episodes are thought of as pure entertainment, underneath all of the emotions is something much, much more. It may be difficult to understand what the characters are saying at first, but as the show wraps you into its crazy and dramatic plot, you begin to feel as though you can understand exactly what is going on. You start to hear the emotion behind words, and there is a real understanding in what is meant by certain phrases. You begin to recognize the same words used over and over again, and it becomes possible to associate these words with actions and feelings. When a woman cries, the words she speaks become a universal language that can be felt and understood by the viewer. When a man yells, the emotion and anger portrayed through the words spoken encompasses the viewer into a state of frustration for the character. Whatever the scene, telenovelas are sure to instruct the viewer on how to feel and the foreign language becomes easier and easier to understand. Although the technical aspects of the language may not be covered, the setting and emotional aspect of the language are expressed, which provides the backbone of the language as a whole. With the help of telenovelas, learning a language can be a fun and relaxing experience, teaching the viewer the Spanish language through the emotions and excitement of the telenovela characters.

Gender Roles

During one of the last episodes I saw of La Reina del Sur I saw something that caught my attention. It was a scene where Santiago is offered a job, but Teresa tells him to drop it or she is going to leave him. He becomes agitated but then catches himself and tells her that he is sorry, but that he is not used to having women talk to him like that. This shows the machismo found in Latin American countries. If I had seen that scene alone, I would have thought that Teresa would be intimidated and apologetic for upsetting him. However, having gotten to know Teresa in previous episodes, I was not surprised when she snapped at him and continued to berate him. I think this is interesting because it shows the machismo being suppressed. My family and I visit Mexico every summer and, from what I can see, the society is still male dominated to an extent. However, I would not say that being macho is the natural law anymore; it is still common to see guys acting tough and courageous around girls but not anything too extreme. Having this in mind, it only seems natural to have stronger female characters in television, because the programs shown on T.V. are representations of the society that it is shown to.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Women's Roles in Telenovelas

In my telenovela, Dueños del Paraíso, the main character, Anastasia, takes over her husband's cocaine empire and soon becomes more powerful than she can control.  Her partners are Conrado, Adán, and Alejo, who all have spouses, Erica, Analia, and Veronica.  Of course in most telenovelas, women are very beautiful but don't really have any significant role besides being beautiful and sitting at home.  With Erica, Analia, and Veronica, most of this rings true.  They all live off what their spouses make, which only adds to the stereotypical role of housewife.  They do have positions of power, sometimes, for example, Analia catches her husband cheating, and threatens to take away any power that he had.  Erica comes into money of her own, by becoming a porn star.  Veronica almost turns Adán and his partners into the police when she finds out that he is dealing cocaine.  Anastasia is different, she comes from a broken home and has to take care of herself.  She marries rich and is happy and carefree for a while, until her husband Nathaniel leaves her.  Once this happens, her role changes.  She finally comes to the forefront as a leader, and her story is ultimately what makes the telenovela.  She is beautiful, very much so, but her intelligence is recognized more and more as the story progresses.  This to me, is different from how a woman is typically portrayed in telenovelas.  Rarely is a woman seen as not only beautiful, but intelligent and powerful.  It's great that a woman takes the lead and is able to have such control.  Of course, being practically a drug dealer is never a good idea, but having a woman in power is a nice change.

Telenovela vs. Netflix Series

My telenovela is Pablo Escobar; El Patron Del Mal, and it's very similar to the Netflix series, Narcos, but you can tell there is a big difference in the production style. I watched Narcos a couple months ago and loved it, which is one of the reasons I chose the telenovela that I did, and they both seem very factual and similar in storyline. The biggest difference other than the lack of English, since Narcos is meant for an English-speaking audience and Pablo Escobar; El Patron Del Mal is meant for a Spanish-speaking audience, is the increased dramatic effects in production of the telenovela, especially the background music. The music is purposely placed to increase the gravity of certain character's lines or behaviors, and gives the audience a clear indication of when something important is happening. There is much more relationship drama in Pablo Escobar; El Patron Del Mal as well, putting a large focus on Pablo's relationship with his wife, which was not nearly as prominent in Narcos. The increased drama really hooks you in a different aspect than the high-stakes operations carried out by Pablo and his "banditos," reaching a larger audience than Narcos.

As for the information given in the storylines, Narcos spends more time explaining the information given and how Pablo Escobar is affected by political notions through the use of a narrator, which is not present in Pablo Escobar; El Patron Del Mal. While helpful for understanding the plot, the narrator is used for informative reasons, which seems to not be as heavily focused on in the drama-filled telenovela.

There is also a huge difference in the progression of the plot in terms of speed. Narcos uses 10 episodes to tell a major chunk of Pablo's story (although it will be continued in another season), while the first 13 episodes of Pablo Escobar; El Patron Del Mal coincides with episode 7 or 8 of Narcos.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Irresistable telenovela

Limiting myself to only one episode of La Patrona is a difficult task. So many hooks keep me wanting more, but due to the fact that every night I have endless loads of homework I can only watch one episode in a sitting. Anyways, back to La Patrona. The first episode is full of twists and unexpected turns. The first episode is based around the wake of the boss of a mine. This mine is what is keeping this city going. The Bosses death was caused by the sheer fact that his wife is more in love with money than her, now dead, husband.

There is already a love triangle between the new boss, the lead female character (Gabriella Suarez), and the Boss’s son. Both the guys like Gabriella, but she is not interested in either. Her main focus is on providing for her son that is being bullied at his school. At the very end of the first episode, Gabriella and the new boss get stuck in the mine because the mine was unstable and caved in. This cliffhanger made me want to sit down and binge watch every single episode. This is why telenovelas are irresistible. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

More than entertainment

I have always loved watching drama on television, so when I saw my first telenovela in high school I was instantly hooked. When I was taking Spanish in high school, we would watch portions of the telenovela Destinos practically every day in class. Destinos is a telenovela that was specifically created with the intention of teaching Spanish to beginners. Raquel Rodriguez was a Spanish speaking lawyer from California who was hired by a dying man’s family to track down his first wife who had been presumed dead after the Spanish Civil War. Raquel travelled to multiple different Spanish speaking countries while also teaching our class basic Spanish. Needless to say, it grabbed all of our attention and made learning the Spanish language fun. One of the things that I think makes telenovelas so cool is that they are not only super dramatic, but they are also great tools to help learn the Spanish language. If my high school Spanish class had not watched Destinos then I would not have cared enough to learn as much of the Spanish language as I did. This is one of the main reasons that I'm excited about watching the telenovela that I chose, La Patrona. While I am obviously looking forward to the drama, I am also looking forward to having another tool to help me in my Spanish class this semester.

Cant Stay Away

Like most people of this generation, I have mastered the art of "binge watching." I thought I had finally controlled this addiction after years of trying to control this habit, but I was very wrong. After being introduced to the world wide phenomenon, the telenovela, my addiction quickly returned. How am I supposed to stop watching after only one episode when every single show ends with a dramatic cliffhanger leaving me wanting more?! I thought I had watched dramatic TV series in the past, but nothing compares to the action packed 45 minutes of the telenovela. Not only are they dramatic, but there are so many different varieties, so there is a telenovela catered to everybody's specific tastes. Personally, I am a huge soccer fan, so of course I picked a telenovela that involved a lot of futbol, "Avenida Brasil." I was hooked after only watching the trailer as one of the first scene opens with the view of a beautiful stadium. The trailers for telenovelas, specifically this one, are also very different than commercials for normal TV series. They explain the basic plot of the series and provide just enough drama to reel you in, leaving you wondering at the end of the clip. I know this is exactly how i felt after watching the trailer for "Avenida Brasil." I haven't even begun the show, but I already know that once I start, I wont be bale to stop. That is the pure power of the telenovela.

Extremely Spicy Plotlines: Telenovelas

     After looking up a few of the telenovelas mentioned in class today I decided on watching "Duas Caras". As we talked about in class, telenovelas have very intricate story lines with many characters and copious amounts of cliffhangers, and "Duas Caras" seems like it will live up to those expectations. I plan to start watching it over the weekend, but I did read the beginning of a summary of the show and oh man does it look like something that will get me hooked. From what I gathered the series takes a reversal on the Cinderella archetype where it is a young, naive girl who falls for a poor boy, but that is where things take a 180-degree turn.
    The poor boy is actually a con-man who divorces his new wife for her riches, moves away, and changes his name. Maria, the protagonist, then begins to track down her ex "Double Jeopardy" style, and that is as far as I read since I did not want to spoil the obvious chaos that ensues for the remainder of the show. This telenovela interests me because the stereotypical protagonist is usually a naive girl who slowly becomes less and less so as she adapts to her new surroundings, but here her naivety is broken early on in the series when she is orphaned and later betrayed by her husband which causes her to mature more quickly than usual. I believe that the author of this show also wants to showcase the male superiority stereotype and introduce to the audience a female character who beats the stereotype and not only exacts her revenge but ends up in a better place than she was before. Of course I have yet to actually start watching the series and these are just assumptions, but I do look forward to watching and learning the truth for myself.

Analysis of Hugo Benavides's Latin American Telenovelas: The Political Power of Melodramatic Resignification - Taking a Deeper Look Into Telenovela Monopolies

The first reading for this course was Hugo Benavides's section on Latin American Telenovelas: The Political Power of Melodramatic Resignification. The work dealt with how telenovelas became popular in various countries including the United States through aspects such as globalization and how telenovelas can connect to a viewer. A quote from the work that heavily interested me was, "It is this powerful process of cultural commodification and reconfiguration that has made even the original national groups lose their economic monopoly on telenovela production". Before attending the course, I had assumed that many countries in South America and Latin America had produced telenovelas. Instead, I learned that countries such as Mexico, Argentina, and Venezuela had large monopolies which weakened with competitors from Brazil, Peru, Colombia, etc. That was a very eye-opening concept of which I committed further research in the topic of telenovela monopolies and how it has affected monopolies and it's loosening due to globalization.

One of the countries that has a very strong hold on telenovela production is Mexico which has had recent political troubles in the past 10 years over its media structure. Mexican media is mainly dominated by the oligopoly Televisa which is the largest multimedia company in the Spanish speaking world. Televisa is known for producing recent telenovelas such as A que no me dejas and La vecina which are broadcasted worldwide through networks in the U.S. such as Univsion (Which Televisa owns a 5% stake in) or Telemundo along with various other channels across the world. Televisa does have a competitor in Mexico for telenovela production known as TV Azteca which has made some progress in chipping away at the monopoly of Televisa in the country but is still overshadowed by the strength of Televisa. However, the 2012 Mexican Presidential election has led to calls by protesters to break up the oligopoly of Televisa in Mexico. Televisa was heavily accused of supporting candidate Enrique Nieto throughout the election in many ways including to not show the first national debate between candidates in order to preserve Nieto's lead. If Televisa's control over the media in Mexico can be decreased, it will also lead to many other countries to have a chance at better distributing their own telenovelas without the monopolistic power of Televisa around the world.

An aspect that has greatly loosened the monopolistic control of telenovela production by certain countries is the rise of globalization. Globalization can encompass many aspects but a simplistic definition is the process of integrating communications, economics, and cultures around the world. Telenovelas has played a major role in globalization by spreading around the world in various continents which has led viewers to experience a new type of genre never seen before along with many of its cultural aspects depending on the country of origin. This has allowed countries such as Peru and Colombia to spread its telenovelas while weakening the strongholds of countries such as Mexico, Argentina, and Venezuela as described by Benavides. One of the machinery or tools of globalization that has allowed for the growth of telenovelas in many nations is the internet which in turn allowed viewers instant access to vast amounts of telenovela programs of his or her liking on websites such as YouTube and Netflix. This further weakens the telenovela monopoly by allowing viewers to choose any type of telenovela without being forced to watched telenovelas from certain countries on televisions. Overall, globalization has been a major force in weakening the monopolistic forces of telenovela production although Mexico, Venezuela, and Argentina still are major leaders.


1. Benevides Reading

Plot Development

Novelas have always been present in my life. Since I was a young child, I could remember my mom, my aunts, and my grandma discussing the latest episodes or the stories of a novela. Since we all lived in the same apartment, it was something that I would hear almost every day. I never thought anything of it. I figured novelas were mostly for women since the only people that I knew who watched them were women. Around ten years later, I remember my dad asking my mom about some novela because he was not caught up with it. I still refused to believe that they were something that anyone could enjoy; I just figured that my dad was watching them to connect more with my mom. However, my cousin, who is as close as a brother to me, also mentioned watching novelas every night with his mom. That is when I realized that anyone could enjoy this genre of television.
Honestly, I still did not watch any novelas, mostly because I did not watch much television during this time. However, seeing the previews got me very eager to start watching them. There are scenes that were very intense, scenes that were comical, and scenes that were relaxing to watch. What I really am interested in is the plot development in novelas. I do not understand how they can keep someone watching for over one hundred episodes, especially when the the major characters are introduced in the first episode and they seem to fall in love immediately. Watching a clip from Michaela today in class made me question that.
I am excited to start watching La Reina del Sur to find answers to my questions and to get involved in the story. Maybe I could also see where Kate del Castillo started interacting with famous drug lords.

A Part of Life

It's interesting to me that telenovelas can become such a huge part of a person's life, watching the same telenovelas for years and years, sitting down at the same time everyday to watch their favorite show. Audiences become connected to the characters in ways unlike any other genre of entertainment, and it's impressive that it can affect people in such a way.

It also amazes me that telenovelas can be successful after so many years of repeating the same stories. It would seem to me that people would lose interest in a telenovela if they knew what was going to come, but the intense drama and the audience's connection to the characters give them a reason to continue watching for so many years, enough to be a part of life for many people. 

The immense variety in telenovelas allows for everyone to have their favorite show, anywhere from romance to action, such as Pablo Escobar: El Patron Del Mal, the telenovela that I am beginning to watch. I'm interested to compare it to the show Narcos that is on Netflix, to see the differences between a telenovela and a regular TV show on the same topic, specifically the differences in budget, production quality, and amount of different actors throughout the story. 

Telenovelas: A Platform for Social Reform

Telenovelas are popular because they are really more than melodramas. While the plot may be twisted and convoluted, the writers often address much more important problems. They present political and social issues in an extremely entertaining and theatrical way. The complexity of the storylines mixed with everyday issues makes telenovelas the most addicting shows on TV. Similarly, the Turkish telenovela Fatmagulu Sucu Ne addresses social issues in an extremely captivating way. Unlike other telenovelas, Fatmagul moves at an exceptionally slow pace and does not end in a cliffhanger. While this show is not the stereotypical telenovela, it is still both addicting and powerful. It addresses the issues of rape and victim shaming while having a complex Romeo and Juliet love story.
In the first episode a beautiful young woman named Fatmagul is gang raped by three men. She is subsequently shamed and ostracized by everyone she knows. Her “loving” fiancé, Mustafa, leaves her and burns down their future home. Then she is forced to tell the police she lied about the rape and is pressured to marry one of her rapists.

From the first episodes, the writers obviously want to draw attention to the Middle Eastern culture’s reaction to rape. After Fatmagul was assaulted, she is treated as if she were to blame. No one seems to care about catching the culprits or getting justice for her. While Fatmagul is wrongly scrutinized and shamed for being raped, her ex-fiancé Mustafa, receives nothing but comfort and support. From this, the writers are hinting that Middle Eastern women are often treated unfairly in this situation. While western women usually receive support after an assault, Middle Eastern women may not have the same comforts. This show suggests that sexually assaulted women are treated like outcasts and their lives and reputations will never be the same. The extreme drama and blatant cruelty in Fatmagul Sucu Ne demonstrates the severity of this issue and the need for social reform.