Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Telenovelas Rosas

      Coming into this class, I admit that I was a little apprehensive. I did not know if my rusty spanish skills would be enough to get me by. I was worried I would be the only one who had never watched an entire season (or multiple seasons) of a telenovela. I was scared I would be unprepared to talk about the cultural and social implications of such a vast genre of television. But now, after we have gone through the first couple of lectures and I have watched almost ten episodes of the telenovela I will study this semester, I can already see the ways telenovelas can and have impacted cultures all around the world.

In my opinion, one of the many interesting things we have discussed in relation to telenovelas, culture and society (and one of the reasons I chose La Tempestad as my telenovela to study) has been the history and typology of telenovelas rosas. It amazes me that countless telenovelas with the same basic structure have been recreated over and over again. What is even more amazing is that many of these telenovelas share the same twists and turns: Twins separated at birth. An evil stepmother. A cinderella story. Betrayal and revenge. An ugly duckling. These things have appeared over and over again since some of the first telenovelas and likely will continue to appear in telenovelas rosas of the future, yet massive audiences are still drawn in by the latest telenovela that has these elements.

I think this might relate to society in ways that are deeper than the obvious reason that these things are entertaining to watch. Perhaps there is something comforting about watching a telenovela, being engrossed in it and entertained by it, and knowing exactly what is going to happen in the end. Telenovelas are not only constant and consistent in the way that they appear in people's lives every day at the same time of day, but they are also constant in the fact that what is expected is exactly what is delivered. When watching a telenovela, it is not surprising when the pretty girl ends up with the hunky guy. But why would someone want to be surprised by their telenovela when they are already exhausted from the constant surprises of the ups and downs of their real lives?

I see the telenovela rosa not as a tired genre, but a genre that serves a specific purpose in the lives of its viewers. It's comforting to know that everything is going to work out in the end, and it's entertaining to watch how that unfolds. The question is which characters and settings will fill in the blanks next? What I am discovering is that the typical devices can come up in unexpected ways. For example, in La Tempestad I have no doubt that Marina and Capitán Fabre will end up together, but instead of Mariana being a "Cinderella" character she is a powerful, successful businesswomen from the city. It seems that he might be the one that fits better in the "Cinderella" position. We'll see what happens!

1 comment:

  1. I like how you talk about the telenovelas with the same structure that are recreated over and over again — yet they are still always popular. This actually reminds me a lot of the American reality TV shows The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. I think these shows have a lot in common with telenovelas, particularly in the repeating structure/character elements. If you have watched a couple seasons of these shows (or a lot more than a couple like me...) you realize that basically every season is the same. The main "character" is always a perfectly gorgeous person who has overcome some sort of heartbreak and is now "ready to find love." Every new season's batch of "contestants" is widely diverse but there are always a few to fill the required roles — just like telenovelas often repeat the same character types (i.e. Cinderella, Evil Mother-in-Law, Prince Charming, etc.) There HAS to be someone on The Bachelor(ette) who everyone else pegs as "not there for the right reasons" (aka on the show for fame). Then there's the person with a secret significant other back home. Then there's the parent who just wants to find someone to love his/her son/daughter. And, just like in a telenovela, you know exactly how the story line will go. There will be crazy dates, lots of kissing, a slew of tearful goodbyes, a dramatic entrance by the aforementioned secret significant other, an invitation to the "fantasy suite," a selection of Neil Lane engagement rings — and finally...a romantic proposal and a happily ever after. Every season promo promises "more drama than ever before." And Americans eat it up. We are perfectly willing and eager to be pulled into this fantastical world of love and obstacles. We can't wait to talk to our friends about the latest developments. And we don't care that every season is the same because, well, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."