Thursday, August 29, 2013

Initial thoughts on "La Reina del Sur" and Telemundo

      Coming into this class, I knew very little about telenovelas. The most I'd ever seen was bits and pieces from Argentinian "Floricienta." While "Floricienta" obviously has the Cinderella plot line we looked at in class, I didn't think this was something for me. I typically like more action. Luckily, telenovelas come in all shapes and sizes. A personal interest of mine for years has been drug trafficking and Cartel violence in Latin America. The narconovela caters to this interest almost perfectly. While doing a little bit of research, I stumbled across "La Reina del Sur." While she is not based on a real life person, her character has been equated with Sandra Ávila Beltran, a Mexican drug lord recently released from prison, who I also had written about in a paper my sophomore year of college. Teresa Mendoza sounded interesting. Then, in class, we watched a preview of "Escobar: el Patrón del Mal." I thought to myself, "What could be more interesting than a narconovela? A narconovela based on real life!" I had changed my mind, Teresa Mendoza would have to wait another day. The next morning I awoke only to realize I hadn't ever sent Dr. A my new choice in telenovela, so I begrudgingly began to watch "La Reina del Sur."
      I can't say I didn't like it once I began watching, however, two things disappointed me a bit. Firstly, the entrada was not what I expected it to be. It just doesn't seem to fit. It shows flashes of moments during the show, which seems pretty typical. The viewer gets small teasers of the men in Teresa's life, of her escape, and her business. What really stood out to me was the music. This is a very serious show; in the first episode Teresa gets raped, el Guero gets burnt alive, children are killed...so what is the obvious choice in music for the telenovela? Mariachi music, of course! It made me go "Huh?" I just didn't expect a band to be narrating Teresa's life throughout the entrada to what feels like happy music. I'm sure it's a cultural thing that I'm just not getting. But more than the entrada, I am disappointed in the man they chose to play el Guero, not because Rafael Amaya is a bad actor, but because he dies in the first episode. He is a very good looking man, and while he's showing up in flashbacks, I'm worried he won't be in the show for very long. This makes me sad.
      I'm pleased that I chose a telenovela made by Telemundo mostly because of it's accessibility. However, I'm also coming to find that I really enjoy the commercials. It's interested to see commercials marketed to those living in America but in a different language; and apart from the never-ending pasta bowl at Olive Garden commercial, all are very well done. I recognize all of the products. A recurrent theme I've seen in several of the commercials is interracial couples. The first one I saw was a Wendy's commercial where a white blonde-hair blue-eyed guy sits across from a typical latin beauty as they both eat burgers. He's says something along the lines of "juicy meat," she responds with the Spanish translation, the same thing happens with "melty cheese" and "pretzel bun," and then in his very American accent he says "Es dayleeziosa" and the two move in for a kiss only to be interrupted by an entire family watching. I can't say it didn't make me smile. Another commercial featuring interracial couples is for the Galaxy S4 cell phone. A young couple, once again white blonde-hair blue-eyed guy and a latin beauty, are shown standing together. She says in English "Don't worry! They'll love you," and runs to an older couple who are obviously her parents. The guy nervously follows, looks at his phone, and then says "Un placer conocerlos." The father then makes a joke to the mother about how terrible his accent is. But it's cute, and I liked it.
      I'm looking forward to seeing some more commercials like those two, and definitely looking forward to watching more "La Reina del Sur." It shouldn't be too difficult to watch 63 episodes in the next few weeks.

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