Monday, May 26, 2008

"Amor de Novela"

Last night, I went to bed late. I was watching a reality show on TV; I will not say the name of the show or the tv network, as I don't want to "advertise". This show was looking for the next "telenovela" star, and went through weeks of competition looking for the person who would go through a series of challenges and in the end win prizes, including a contract to appear in a "novela" in one of the main Spanish-language networks.

A "novela" is more or less the equivalent of the American Soap Opera. But in the "novela", there is a beginning and an end. So is more like a "mini-series", although they are generally longer than an American, in summary, there is not a literal translation for the term.

Growing up, my grandma used to have me sit next to her while she watched her favorite novela. They started on the radio, and then, with the advent of TV, novelas were made for the small screen. My mother did not want my grandma to do this, as she thought the content was inappropriate for children-now I understand she was right! But I loved the drama! My abuela and I had this complicity going on. She would let me watch, but I could not tell my mom. Eventually, it would come out, after one novela ended, but then, the next one would start, and it would start all over again.

In the typical Spanish tele-novela, there are all kinds of plots going on. Star-crossed lovers from different backgrounds who overcome all sorts of obstacles but in the end their love triumphs. Crime. Pre-marital or extra-marital affairs. Mothers forced to give their children up for adoption because they were conceived out of wedlock, or as a result of sexual assault. Or, in the worst case, the children were taken away and the mother made to believe the child was dead. Gossip, intrigue, discrimination...all the possible ranges of human emotion taken to ludicrous extremes. My aunt used to scream, "These people who come up with the novelas are insulting our intelligence!"

The guy who won last night was a handsome Puertorican man who resides in New York. I wish him well. He did well in most of his challenges and showed commitment to the craft. The show, however, was a little cheesy, in my opinion. I don't know if it will come up again for another season. I have not looked to see how well it was received by the audience, Hispanic or not. I don't know that the show portrayed Latinos in a very positive light in general. It did, however, showed what novelas are all about: drama, and our love for it. Viva la novela!!

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