Before taking this class, I was skeptical. I assumed every telenovela and soap opera consisted of the same melodramatic love story told by mediocre actors and actresses and played throughout the afternoon for women around the world. However, after some convincing from my advisor, I decided to give this class a try. Now, I admit my original perception of telenovelas was completely wrong.
Telenovelas, for one thing, are different than soap operas. Telenovelas have a finite number of episodes, and broadcast in primetime as well as in the afternoon block. They can go beyond the traditional telenovela “Rosa” and can tell stories about a variety of different topics. Not only do women enjoy telenovelas; many telenovelas around the world have captured the attention of men, women, and children. Telenovelas can also shed light on political and social issues, which leads me to the telenovela I have chosen to watch, “Pablo Escobar, El Patrón del Mal.”
When choosing my telenovela, I originally thought I wanted to watch a more traditional telenovela featuring a Cinderella type protagonist and a heart-wrenching love story. I thought I wanted to study the more traditional structure of a telenovela “Rosa.” During our class discussion on telenovela typology, however, Dr. A played clips from a couple telenovelas that centered on the drug world. These telenovelas, or narconovelas, immediately caught my attention. I loved the idea of worldwide networks using telenovelas as a medium to bring attention to social issues. In the case of “Pablo Escobar, El Patrón del Mal,” it was important for the country of Colombia to finally publicly release the story of Pablo Escobar, and allow the people of Colombia to grieve and move on from the terrible events that took place due to this now infamous man.
I have only watched a couple episodes so far, but from the first episode the presence of a Cinderella was clear. I was surprised to see that even a narconovela had some traditional elements in it. Paty, Pablo’s wife, is a much younger and very naïve girl. But, although the age difference is large, Pablo knows from the moment he meets Paty that she will be his wife. Pablo loves her with all of his heart, and Paty believes she is also in love. However, Paty has no idea of the business Pablo has become enthralled with. His love for money and power is almost more than his love for Paty. It will be interesting to see how their relationship continues as Pablo´s quest for power also continues.
I also thought the “entrada” to the telenovela was very interesting. You see Pablo as an older man on the phone. It appears he is about to be caught, and has hit the end of his domination of the Colombian drug industry. It is apparent this is how the telenovela might possibly end. Then, the telenovela switches back to Pablo as a young boy growing up in Colombia. The beginning gives you an immediate idea of what is to come. I think for this particular telenovela it was appropriate to structure the first episode in this way because everyone around the world knows the story of Pablo Escobar. Showing a clip from the end of his life is not going to spoil the entire telenovela. What makes this telenovela so fascinating is not what is going to happen next, but its ability to give the public a look inside of the every day life of one of the most infamous drug lords in the world.
So, I have realized there is a lot more to a telenovela than I originally thought. Telenovelas are an important part of Latin American culture, and I cannot wait to continue to watch the telenovela I have chosen, “Pablo Escobar, El Patrón del Mal.”