This is a class blog run by Dr. Carolina Acosta-Alzuru and her students in the course "Telenovelas, Culture and Society" at the University of Georgia during Spring 2011

Sunday, May 1, 2011

After the word FIN, the acknowledgements

This class exists thanks to every person that has made possible my research on the successful and fascinating genre of telenovelas. This semester a few of them came to our class and enriched the course immensely. I thank and celebrate them. They represent the people who work in, and consume, telenovelas, who've given me their time and insights for over a decade. They didn't hesitate when I invited them to join the class and taught my students with intelligence, generosity and warmth.

Brazilian director Claudio Callao joined us from Sao Paulo

Brazilian director Claudio Callao

Primera actriz Julie Restifo joined us from Caracas




















First actress Julie Restifo

Christian walked over the desks like Roberto Benigni to get up close to Marisa Román

Actress Marisa Román

Marisa Román

Writer Alberto Gómez joined us from Miami

Venezuelan writer Alberto Gómez

The day technology failed us: We couldn't hear actor Guillermo García. Our loss!

Writer Leonardo Padrón joined us from Caracas

Leonardo Padrón







































This class would be meaningless if there weren't students interested in the topic and willing to learn about media, culture and society via the telenovela genre. I was privileged to teach 23 bright, enthusiastic students majoring in mass communication careers and Latin American and Caribbean Studies. They were the heart of this class, the ones that made the classroom a magic place, and the real protagonists of the semester:














To all: 
THANK YOU!

Real People

Through all our skype dates this semester, I have learned a lot about the world of telenovelas. It was nice to interview and talk with writers, directors and actors. It helped with forming an understanding of all sides and views of the telenovela culture. The talk with Padron was interesting because of the extensive amount of work he has done in the telenovela trade. It was fascinating to have a normal conversation with someone who as at the top of his profession, especially since we have studied him for a majority of the semester. It's nice to have personal reinforcement for the materials we have discussed in lecture and seen in the works we have studied.

Sometimes you forget that these are real people when you are only studying them and hearing things about them in lecture. It always fascinates me to see what people in positions of fame are really like outside the spot light. Especially with the actors and actresses. For example, Marisa Roman and Julie Restifo play many roles with varying personalities in their trade. It was really interesting to see who these actresses really were. Julie was super professional and sounded extremely knowledgable of her trade. Despite speaking with a younger audience, she still remained as if she was conducting a professional interview. Before we talked with Marisa, I was curious to see what she was really like off the set. She was very entertaining. Her personality was comforting and made all those around not help but smile. I was talking with Christian the other day about how of course we thougt she was attractive, but we had no idea she would be that cool and fun to be around (even though it was via skype). We felt as though she'd be fun to go out on the town with and despite her obvious fame over Christian and I's, she would probably still makes us feel as though we were all just a few young people out on the town.

The skype talks were absolutely helpful for rounding out our studies of the telenovela culture and the people that make this culture.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

El Final

Well, hard to believe it's finally the end of the semester, and the end of our wonderful class about telenovelas. It's funny because when I signed up for this course last semester, I thought about it and really wondered how much there really is to learn about telenovelas because most of them follow the same trend: Girl and boy fall in love, they have issues, but in the end, they are together happy forever after. Well, I definitely was proven wrong. There is MUCH much more behind a telenovela than meets the eye. It's not just about a television program, but a part of a culture. I also learned a lot about different countries besides Mexico, because I was used to the typical Mexican telenovela rosa. Although I had seen a few telenovelas that were closer to "de ruptura" than a telenovela rosa, I had never seen any that were anywhere near what we learned about this semester. I enjoyed learning about the differences between the two, and seeing how the Latino cultures from country to country respond differently to the different types of telenovelas. Overall, I am definitely happy and grateful that I took this class. I enjoyed it thoroughly and definitely enriched my knowledge on different Latino cultures. I would just like to thank you Dr. A for teaching this class because not only is it full of information, it also very fun and definitely one of my favorite courses I've ever taken at the University.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Fin

Well, we've reached el fin of our semester, and I must say I'm going to miss this class. It was so diffferent, while so informative and pertinent. I loved watching all of the Padron endings, and cannot say enough about his genius as a writer. The rosa endings were interesting as well, but as predictable as the plotlines which they hail from. I don't have any problem with happy endings and love stories, or the gushy flashbacks from the first kiss to the wedding and everything in between, but I really enjoyed the ruptura endings a lot more. I believe that they represented a much higher level of creativity on the part of both the actors and the writers. I guess that included in that distinction should the entire crew as well. The one shot final of the magazine one was absolutely mind-blowing to me. I cannot imagine the amount of coordination and professionalism required on all parts to pull that off. I remember having to break my one minute, one shot scenes for my high school Spanish videos into at least five parts usually to get anything resembling decent. This class has cultivated in me an entirely new level of respect for the people associated with novelas. From stretched budgets, hectic filming schedules, and what are in real life extremely uncomfortable seeming love scenes to shoot, these people pull off incredible productions. The ability to captivate a nation every single night of the week for a solid hour or more is something that, growing up the way I did, I simply cannot really conceptualize. The dedication required to make these successful is evident in those on the screen and behind it, but most of all it shines through in the cases of the fans. Homemade tributes, street vendors holding signs, explosively popular internet followings, and the cutthroat battle for ratings are all proof of a fandom which we haven't even come close to seeing in the US. All in all, an amazing journey, from the first hook, to the despechos and betrayals, to the bittersweet Fines. Not bad for a genre I literally thought I would never watch.

Actually I'm not done....

I just happened to also think about what Dr. A said just before we all left yesterday about bilingualism. I would just like to say that the ability to speak more than one language should really truly be cherished. I personally have wished my entire life that I could have been raised bilingual, because something I have learned through not onl this course but also through my studies as a linguist is that speaking a second language does so much more for a person than merely allow them to speak to more people. Speaking a language opens a door into a culture, a language carries with it the slang the humor and the values of a culture. When you meet someone and tell them you speak there native language an immediate bond is created ESPECIALLY if that person lives in a country in which their language is in the minority. That language is their security blanket it's the one things that they can always carry with them from home. A language can't get lost at the airport or left in a hotel or lost under the bed a language is always there for you, it's always there to comfort you to remind you of home and where you came from, to remind you of the roots that you should ALWAYS be proud of. To be able to share something that precious is truly a privileged that should be appreciated and never taken for granite and never pushed aside, forgotten or hidden. So those of you blessed enough to have been raised bilingual, cherish that gift and take advantage of all the opportunities that are open to you because of it. I personally have a fascination with cultures and language and would have traded ANYTHING for the same gift some of you were raised with. So no matter what you do don't lose that language and that gift, you would be closing so many doors if you do.

A happy ending after all...

After having watched telenovelas all semester long, both in class and outside of it, I am beginning to see the world from behind a telenovela lens! Behind every relationship, I see a love triangle. Behind every moment with my twin, an interesting plot to trick, dazzle, and bewilder onlookers with our similarities. Thus, it only makes sense that when we had our final class yesterday night, I viewed it in such a way. As I left Dr. A's house, I pondered to myself: viewing our class as a semester-long telenovela, what sort of ending did we have? Obviously we can throw my telenovela's ending out of the window. Sin tetas no hay paraíso is a sad ending, and ours was anything but. I ending was not a rosa ending either. There was nothing cliche about our last class like there is in the rosa weddings that we saw. After all, in what other class can you eat pizza and tres leches at the professor's house during the last class?? In the end, I decided that Leonardo Padrón's post-modern endings were what best described the way our class ended. In most of the endings that we saw of his novelas, at the end the focus becomes much broader as the audience is allowed to step back and see the novela for what it is: La vida entera ended with cameras, set up crew, and raw production as the last images presented to the viewer. Cosita rica transformed into a 4th-wall breaking theater performance with Padrón himself making an appearance. In a way, this is exactly what occurred for us on Thursday. Having studied every inch of telenovelas during the semester, we were finally able to take a step back and view the completed project through the endings. All of the actors, writers, etc that we met on Skype we saw in action. All of the production, writing, design, directing, etc was right before us. Things were much more clear from this perspective, and I would have it no other way. Thank you again for all that you have done for us Dr. A! This was truly an amazing class, and I have learned SSOO much that I would have never been introduced to as an International Affairs major. The way you ended the semester was brilliant. Maybe Padrón is rubbing off on you too much!

Mirror? Window....Wall?

So for some reason perhaps because I was contemplating my essay topic I was thinking about the connection between telenovelas and culture and the debate about the connection between the two. I know that Dr. A mentioned earlier in the semester that there was a bit of a debate about what was more accurate and about how there are many views of the issue, but I personal believe that telenovelas and media in general are really all three. For instance we know that there are some telenovelas set centuries ago that are obviously incredibly based in faction, where as there are some with real messages to society for example Cosita Rica or La Mujer Perfecta that present the morals but are still a bit of an exaggeration of the real world. Then there are those such as brazilian telenovelas that are all about realism. All three connections exist in telenovelas as well as media in the U.S. I think to really understand anything about culture you need all three connections. The complete fiction gives the viewer insight into the fantasies a culture shares and the dream about what they wish their life was like, where as the realism present, within a limited scope of course, the truth about society what citizens deal with each and every day and the mirror telenovelas are something of the happy medium between the two, they exaggerate every problem from autism to censorship to make them known but nonetheless feed the desire for fantasy and utopian society. In order to truly assess culture you must look at the whole of the telenovelas not merely the episodes alone but also how they connect to the audience, how the audience perceives interprets and responds to each and every episode, after all not every viewer is going to to receive the same message. I personally am not in any way involved in media and took this course for the cultural aspect. Though many questioned how I would learn anything about culture through a class about television shows based entirely in fiction I personally feel that I've gained a deeper insight in Latin American culture than even I expected. I know much more now about the values, goals, and morals in these culture than I ever expected to be able to learn without actually immersing myself in the culture directly. I've taken so much from this class that I truly feel will help me in the future and help me progress with m career and ultimately the life I intend to lead after school.
Thank you so much Dr. A!

Fin

As I say goodbye to this class, I know I’m leaving more knowledgeable about telenovelas and Latin American culture and society. I entered this class expecting to watch a few Spanish “soap operas,” and I leave knowing that telenovelas are much more than a soap opera; they are the epitome of a melodramatic love story.

I’ve learned about the production of telenovelas not only from Dr. A’s class lecture, but also from famous directors and actors in the telenovela world. This class was a cultural experience and I've learned how powerful and influential telenovelas are. Their themes messages are broadcast to millions of viewers who are then influenced by those messages. Telenovelas have political and social power, that’s can be a scary thing. But the creators of the novelas know this and use this power to help the people Writers like Leonardo Padrón expose a nation to the realities of Asperger’s syndrome, humanizing the issue and bringing attention to a disorder that affects millions of people.

Whether the telenovela is rosa or realista, their stories can entice nations. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to learn so much about a field I initially knew little about.

Fin.

Do they get it?!

The semester is nearing its end and as Dr. A sums up the last few topics, I ask myself one question: Do they get it? They of course references the telenovela audience, those who faithfully tune in to one (or several) of their favorite novelas daily. Are they aware of the subliminal messages being sent through their television sets? Each and every scene infecting their subconscious. I've come to the conclusion that they haven't. Telenovelas represent one of many popular media genres that excercise a sizeable amount of influence over the general public. With many media sources there lies an internal dipute over the responsibilities of the media: 1) give the public what they WANT to see vs. 2) give the public what they NEED to see. Personally, if it were up to me (which it isn't!), I would opt to give people what they need. I applaud writer Leonardo Padron in his efforts to bring about social change with the use of telenovelas. What better way is there to mobilize people than to use elements of popular culture?! These efforts are present throughout many of his works. For example, in Cosita Rica the protagonist, Paula C is a hip-hop street dancer in Caracas. Hip-Hop music has played a significant role in helping at-risk youth express themselves and and their frustrations within Venezuelan society. Another example is in La Mujer Perfecta with the protagonist, Micaela. She has Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism. Padron stated that he used this character to represent people who are marginalized by Venezuelan society and to bring awareness to people.
To answer my question, (Do they get it?) I believe some do. However, for the most part many do not. When looking at the blogs and fan pages, people are obsessed with the characters appearances and fail to truly recognize the deeper message that writers like Padron are trying to tell them.

My Appreciation

I would like to take this time to applaud Dr. A for introducing me to a culture that I had never been properly introduced to before. I am not only referring to telenovelas, but more specifically the Venezuelan culture. For me, this class was about more than just watching telenovelas and discussing their significant themes and characters, but also a chance to grasp an idea about the Venezuelan lifestyle. At the beginning of the semester, I caught a glimpse of the culture by watching clips of Venezuelan telenovelas that were filmed in the country, such as "Cosita Rica" and "La Mujer Perfecta". I hadn't even heard or seen Hugo Chavez before this class and now I speak his name as though I am from the country myself.

During one of our class periods, Dr. A mentioned how loud the streets of Caracas are and that sirens are constantly going off throughout the day and night. I have tried to picture myself here several times, walking the crowded streets of Caracas and visiting the markets. I would love to visit Venezuela one day just so I can recognize something that I learned from this class and enjoy the feeling of being somewhat attached to the country, like I like to believe that I am.


Our class visit to Dr. A's home made me even more intrigued in Venezuela. And no, it wasn't just the "tres leches", although it was amazing :). But, watching the final episodes and hearing about the murder of Yanis Chamaras made me want to further investigate everything about Venezeula! Yesterday, when I came home after our class meeting, I began googling Yanis to learn more about his life and role on "Cuidad Bendita". I also searched for pictures of Caracas so that I can have a better idea of what the city looks like. If it wasn't for this class who knows if I would have ever been exposed to the Venezuelan culture. Yes, I learned quite a bit about telenovelas, but I think my new-found interest in Venezuela was the most valuable gift from this class. I will never forget the Skype calls with Venezuelan actors, actresses, writers and producers. I will cherish everything that we learned from this class.


Oh, and I'm adding 'visit Venezuela' to my list of things to do soon =)

Reflections

I want to use my last blog post to reflect on the semester. I can't believe how quickly it has flown by. It seems like 2 weeks ago that I emailed Dr. A on the last day of drop/add and stole the last available spot for this class. Thank goodness I did. Business Spanish would have been slightly less exciting. It kind of seemed like fate that I heard about this class so last minute and was able to get into it. It is so great to have a class that you look forward to going to every day, and that is how this class was for me. I loved learning about the telenovela world, and Latin American culture in general.
I am really glad that we were asked to watch a telenovela of our own. I enjoyed Corazón Salvaje, although looking back I wish I could have watched La Mujer Perfecta, or one of Padron's other telenovelas that we looked at. I think I might watch one over the summer. I loved learning about Padron's telenovelas. It gave me a whole new perspective on telenovelas, as I can see the depth in what he does. His telenovelas are much more than just melodramatic entertainment, they are insightful, artistic, and educative. Very cool.
Another one of my favorite parts was Skyping with various people of the telenovela world. I loved hearing from Julie Restifo about being a woman, and an older one at that, in the telenovela world. I also of course loved talking to Marisa Román. I think I was giddy the rest of the day. It was so neat to see how down to earth she was, even though she is such a big star. Some of the actors here in America need to learn a little something about that. It was neat to hear from Padron as well. Hearing how poetic his every day speech is made me realize how talented he really is. And I have to say after realizing what Guillermo García looks like I am a little disappointed that technology wouldn't allow us to talk to him.
Overall, it has been such a great semester and I have loved this class so much. The final episodes "class" last night was so very fitting. I think if I were a Senior I probably would have cried (I'm a very emotional person when it comes to endings). But luckily for all of you I'm not graduating and therefore did not cry. Thank you Dr. A for a great semester! I hope I will still see you around.

Fin, Al Estilo Padron

First off let me start by stating that I loved this class. I wish we could've hung out at Dr. A's house earlier in the semester and grown closer as a class (you know set up downtown hang outs and 90's dance offs and even better Casa Mia salsa night). Loved it. Now to the topic at hand.
When we were watching the finales I was convinced nothing would top my "Sin Tetas" finale (yes I am a bit biased) but Padron blew me out of the water. How does one guy think of such cool scripts and then somehow even cooler finales. The thing that was awesome it that they were all so different and creative.
The one where the young man was the Master of Ceremonies of sorts at the theater was amazing! How do you cast a kid that is that good of a public speaker!? The one shot finale from La Vida Entera was nothing short or brilliant. Sure the actors did fantastic but that crew worked it to perfection all in one shot, that takes extreme precision and teamwork. The only one that kind of threw me off was the Ciudad Bendita one since it was a bit more "traditional" than the others. But given the fact that an actor had just passed away I am amazed everyone was able to pull it together and finish the drill, I don't know if I could have done the same given the short amount of grieving time allotted.
But to give props where props is due, La Mujer Perfecta finale was the best overall. The message of both autism and the obsession with beauty was clear and necessary. This was another one where the casting was perfect. The daughter was not only adorable, to the point where if I saw her I may or may not have to take her and raise her as my own with Marisa Roman (it's not as creepy as it sounds don't worry), but the way they had her say her lines was totally believable as her having asperger. The final message where Micaela's husband states he has two perfect women with him (Micaela and their daughter, duh) might as well had been the magic words to open up my tear ducts and let the tears run down. Beautiful and true.
Basically what I'm getting at is that Padron should write ALL telenovela endings because they are way cooler and serve more purpose than the typical finales. To all those graduating (like me, no big deal) good luck in your future endevours and to those still here next year, enjoy it graduation will come quick and keep a look out for me downtown next year when I visit (I still don't grow much facial hair so I can pull off the college age thing for a couple more years :)
ADIOS!!!

Ending with a BANG

Yesterday's class at Dr. A's house was the perfect way to bring closure to LACS 5060. It was so interesting to see the endings of all the telenovelas we've talked about all year. After familiarizing ourselves with the plotlines and characters, learning and talking to the actors and directors, watching the final episodes was a necessity. Honestly, if we had not sat down and watched these endings, i would have been left waitiing for some sort of closure, like the FIN at the very end. These telenovelas would have been unfinished stories in my mind. Furthermore, yesterday I learned that the end of a telenovela is one of the most important parts, and must be very well thought out. I am glad that we got to see all kinds of different endings. I thought the finales we saw at the beginning were extremely cheesy (especially Juana la Virgen), but I can understand the need for a telenovela to say goodbye to each of its characters. The audience does not only fall in love with the protagonists, but also the secondary and even minor characters. If a telenovela ends without addressing these minor players, their fate and future, then the audience would be left wondering: "whatever happened to so-and-so's pregnant sister?"
I was especially impressed by the endings of Padron's telenovelas. They just seemed a cut above the rest. I especially loved how he found different ways to mix reality and fiction at the end. His creativity helps the audience take the lessons from the telenovela and think of them in realistic terms.
Unlike televison shows in the US, which can have interminable seasons, a telenovela ends for good after a certain amount of episodes. Because of this, it is particularly important for the final episode to end it with a bang and answer all the questions the audence may have left. If it doesn't, the writer is sure to hear about it.

Overall, I am extremely happy about everything I've learned in this class. It showed me a whole different side of Latin American culture.. Just like a good telenovela writer, Dr. A ended the semester with a bang. She even said a small speech summing the lessons from the telenovela class. On the outside, this class seems deceptively simple, but what this class teaches and its incorporation into LACS and Grady is really important, since it shows the interactions between culture, society, and media.

La Mujer Perfecta?

We've discussed La Mujer Perfecta many times throughout the semester, and I think it's a great message that Leonardo Padrón tried to bring to Venezuela. However, I did have some qualms with the telenovela that made it difficult for me to take the message seriously.

First of all, every single one of the six protagonists is a beautiful woman. Gorgeous. I think it is hypocritical to create a telenovela with the thesis "there is no perfect woman, flaws make women unique, etc." while those portraying this thesis could easily be considered perfect. I wish Padrón had included an overweight woman, a woman with a huge nose, a woman with crooked teeth or frizzy hair. How are Venezuelans supposed to receive this message when those delivering it reflect the ideal image that they so desperately strive for?

I commend Padrón for his use of a protagonist with autism. It is very unique and sheds light on a topic not often covered. However, she is still a drop-dead gorgeous actress! I also find it interesting that, as Dr. A mentioned in our last class, each actress has fair skin. I hope that in the future, telenovelas will feature women of all different shapes and colors.

How could I sum it up?

I don't have the answer to this question. I guess the larger question should be what haven't I learned in this class? But if I had to sum it all up in one word I have seen passion. Passion flowing from the people involved in the process of making the telenovelas and passion from the audience.

The amount of love the writers and actors have in order to put in the ridiculously long and crazy hours to produce these shows blows my mind. Writers get up at the crack of dawn to begin the crazy process of writing the days script all within a few hours, everyday, even if they have writers block. As Padron said in our class the other day their passion also includes discipline so that if need be they can "put the gun to the muse" and force something out. I doubt that even literary writers have to have as much discipline. Then you have the actors, who can't schedule anything while working on a telenovela because they never know how long filming will take that day but many of them also perform in plays too! How do they have the time?!


The fact that audience members spend hours EVERY NIGHT dedicated to watching their novela also fascinates me. We have discussed many times that the audience watches the show from the heart, not from the head. I don't know if it was my lack of tv watching as a kid or what but I rarely get that into a tv show. But the audience members are unbelievable faithful to their shows. I just go back to the story dr A. told us about when Chavez interrupted one telenovela for one of his speeches and from her house she thought she heard all of Caracas yelling and banging pots at him.


Dr. A also told us last night that in a recent poll of countries Venezuela was 4th in happiness. Even though there is lots of political turmoil, much poverty in parts of the country, it is still the 4th happiest group of people in the world and I think it has something to do with this passion. These people are giving their all into whatever they do or care about and although life might disappoint you sometimes, if you are investing that much passion into what you enjoy, the positives will far outweigh any disappointments.

Death of an Actor

Dipping my pizza crust in garlic butter didn't stop me from thinking about the tragic death of Yanis Chimaras during the shooting of "Ciudad Bendita." I think it's interesting to see how television deals with not only the death of an actor, but the death of a real human being. In the case of "Ciudad Bendita," it was a simple farewell at the end of the final episode.

But this also made me think of Phil Hartman's death during the period in his career when he was making TV audiences roll in laughter with his character Bill McNeal in "NewsRadio." It was one of my dad's favorite shows, and I remember how stunned he was when the world learned that Hartman's wife shot him in the head after a heated argument, spelling an end for Hartman's life as well as the end of Bill McNeal.

And rather than just a simple written message to Phil Hartman, the actor, "NewsRadio" did an episode titled "Bill Moves On," where Bill McNeal's coworkers discover that he's died of a heart attack.

I just find it interesting to look at "Ciudad Bendita," where Yanis had one death, and the show addressed one death, which was that of Yanis, not his character. In contrast, "NewsRadio" gave Phil Hartman a second death, the death of Bill McNeal.

I'm sure there are similar cases other than those of "Ciudad..." and "NewsRadio," but those are the two I'm familiar with, and I think it's interesting to see that just as different shows take different angles on final episodes, they also take different approaches to to the death of an actor.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spanglish Telenovela!

Even though this class is coming to an end, I honestly don't think that this will be the end of my telenovela watching. I have been officially hooked...congrats Dr. A! I am excited to try and keep up with the new telenovelas that will come out and continue to follow Dr. A's blog to keep up with the telenovela world. Something that caught my eye a few weeks ago was a topic of discussion on the E! News about a telenovela! I thought that this had to be a first, E recognizing the great world of telenovelas! As shocked as I was I was immediately intrigued and grabbed my remote control to turn up the volume and hear what they had to say. They were interviewing actors from a new telenovela, "RPM Miami", that is being produced in south Florida, and were explaining how this specific telenovela was going to be a test run for a new type of telenovela....a bilingual telenovela! I was literally jumping with joy! One of the actors was explaining how this telenovela is set in Miami and its going to be just like the real latin life in Miami. He explains, at home and with family you may speak spanish primarily, but when your on the streets you speak English and Spanish combined creating a unique language in itself, Spanglish. This is going to be the first primetime bilingual drama and has the chance of making history! It is set to air May 1 so everyone should watch and see what they think I know I will be watching! It seems to be a "Fast and the Furious" meets telenovela type of story but I am attaching a link bellow so you can check it out for yourself!

http://www.hispanicallyspeakingnews.com/notitas-de-noticias/details/telemundo-debuts-first-bilingual-action-drama-rpm-miami/7092/

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Tearful Farewell: Ode To The Telenovela

I feel like it's only right to honor the drama that is the telenovela with a deep, heartfelt goodbye. As the telenovela is focused on love and heartache, I felt like there was no better way to bid the class goodbye than with a short poem.

Ode To The Telenovela

You made us laugh, you made us cry,

You made us smile, you made us sigh.

Car Accidents, twins, switched babies at birth...

For the perfect telenovela, we'd walk to the ends of the earth.

Drama, love triangles, and evil step mothers,

You showed us the danger of unknowingly falling in love with our brothers.

Fake funerals, shot gun weddings, and dangerous affairs,

Who could forget the murders that happened, the people who were pushed down the stairs?

I will miss all the fist fights, plastic surgery, and shirtless guys (mostly shirtless guys),

Isn't it crazy how the episode flies?

I will never forget the lessons I learned,

Of how the love of your best friend's husband is earned.

I'll always remember the law of telenovela land,

That you can get what you want if you sleep with the right man.

So, telenovela I bid thee farewell

Listen, can you hear the dramatic, good-bye music swell?

I'll never forget you, I promise you this...

So in telenovela fashion let's end with a kiss.

XXXXXOO,

Suzanna


Wrap up

I cannot believe that the semester is almost over, and these are our final blog posts! I was in a Latin American and Caribbean Culture class when Dr. A told us about her research on "Cosita Rica." After hearing her speak about Leonardo Padron's piece of literary work that somehow managed to present very crucial social and political issues into a telenovela, I immediately knew that I wanted to take Dr. A's class. Plus, I knew studying Edgar Ramirez and Marisa Roman's work couldn't be that bad…Haha.

The entire semester has been filled wish such great topics of discussion and lectures. The way the class was organized gave each of us the optimal way into the telenovela world. We began with the basics and typology, worked our way into representation and identity, and are concluding the semester with production and consumption. I have gotten more out of this class than I initially expected. I never would have thought that I would anxiously await Tweets from Dr. A, Marisa Roman, and Leonardo Padron! Thank you so much Dr. A for a great semester -- we are looking forward to our final episodes dinner tomorrow night!

Leonardo Padron

I really liked our skype conversation with Leonardo Padron on 4/26 because it is truly an inspiration for what it is like to work hard and use your talents to the limit. For me, it is amazing that he can create some of the most ground-breaking telenovelas in the world by pushing the boundaries and sucking people in.

For me, it is absolutely amazing that he can come up with all of these fresh ideas for telenovelas and to write 40 pages a day for well over 100 days. For him to be so innovative shows the talent that many people can only dream of.

Personally, I would love to watch some more of Leonardo Padron's telenovelas because they completely suck you in. I hope that when his newest work comes out that I will be able to watch it and stick with it (it's hard being a college kid with tons of work). Needless to say, talking to him was one of my favorite parts of the semester.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Using literary themes, motifs, and examples to explain why Corazón salvaje's latest remake did not work

Dr. A brought up an interesting topic of how pop culture will abuse and exhaust itself, namely through television remakes. I've seen the videos of Corazón salvaje (2009) online, and I, personally, was not sold enough to watch it outside of Youtube. The production value is significantly better than the originals, but that's only because everyone in television has better technology to work with. Scene cutting in Corazón salvaje (2009) is rough and erratic, but that's something that occurs in most telenovelas due to the time constraints and multi-camera model of their productions. What first bothers me is that the actors of the 2009 cast are sub-par compared to the actors, both protagonistic and antagonistic, of Corazón salvaje (1993) because the 1993 cast, quite frankly, kicked ass. That cast had a great deal of talent that is hard to find, namely Palomo, Gonzalez, and Colchero. Notably, the cast also included Enrique Lizalde who played Juan del Diablo in 1966 and Noel Mancera in 1993. The 2009 version has actors who portray their the relationships and dialogging with a somewhat forced and farce air at times, which is detrimental to the suspense of disbelief within any medium of drama. However, let's refer to the "classics" to explain the 2009 adaptation's failure in quality:

What irks me the most is the abuse of a large theme that has defined the Corazón salvajes throughout the years: scandal. Corazón salvaje is an epoch novela taking place during the turn of the 20th century when socioeconomic status still meant everything to the upper classes. For most during the this time period, status was fragile and could be easily lost; the effect of social scandals did not really diminish until the thirties, when everything kinda stunk for everyone (refer to F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, which takes place in the twenties). The scandals in the 1993 version revolve around the timeless Cinderella motif manifested in Juan del Diablo and the struggles of the Altamira family within itself and with the Alcazar y Valles. The Altamira scandals are akin to the ones observed in Edith Wharton novels, namely Ethan Frome and Age of Innocence - both novels of which elaborate intensely upon the drama of one affair. Key word: one.

Now read the synopsis of the 2009 version of Corazón salvaje. Notice something? The scandals repeat themselves amongst all the members of the family. The parents and children cannot seem to keep their hormones and genitals under control whereas before only Aimee, Juan, and Francisco Alcazar y Valle were adulterers. Juan, Monica (now named Regina), Andres (now named Renato), and Aimee are all more related to one another than being siblings and second cousins (I know they marry one another, but it was different times people) - they all seem to be children created out of lust or obligation, both situations of which are not nice circumstances to be born under. It's an interesting topic to evaluate, but not necessarily to observe over the course of 100+ episodes; its entertainment value would lose flavor after a while. Repeating their parents' mistakes just gets too old and boring to watch. You can't really have scandal when the whole world created is scandalous. Scandals disrupt society and its conventions; if all the cool, rich kids are doing it, then why is it still so shocking? Simply put, the 2009 version is too sexual to be tasteful, which is what society aims for now and always. Don't believe me? Let's compare - which of the following characters seem to have more "taste" as characteristic in the late 1800s/early 1900s?


























Let's elaborate upon the feminine side of society more: another timeless dramatic tension of Corazón salvaje can also be found in Jane Austen's novels; this drama is the subtext and the silent feuds between sisters. Monica (now Regina) and Aimee are now twins - equal in age; however, there are less social stigmas behind the Altamira (now Montes de Oca) sisters being identical in both age and appearance in addition to being played by the same actress, Aracely Arámbula. Again, nice idea on paper but not so visually. Aimee marries Monica's former lover and their cousin, Andres, disregarding and leaving Monica to become an old maid. Unlike today, back then this would've been a huge *gasp* and "I'd never!" moment. Being an "old maid" back then was social suicide not only for the maid but also for her family. Classic old maids that act as proof of what could've happened to Monica Altamira are Mary Bennett (third of five daughters) in Pride and Prejudice and the the royal old maid Princess Concetta Corbera of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's Il Gattopardo, who ends her family's dynasty in Italy. If you were wondering, nothing good happened to these women. They died lonely and disliked. Monica's only option to save her family and herself is to evade social suicide by escape through religion; she becomes a celibate nun. Because of Aimee's insensibility and actions in the early plot, Monica marries Juan. All these choices are made behind closed doors in the night by the women. From what I observed, the silent tensions that build this immense drama are not very silent at all in the 2009 adaptation - Renato forces Regina and Juan to marry. Serene Monica feels a sense of duty to save her family; Regina is just bitter. The tensions lose power, and without this power, the 2009 version of Corazón salvaje lacks the squalors that we so loved in the originals.

One final note I would like to make: in the 2009 version, Juan del Diablo is the son of Juan de Dios. Clever.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Corazon Salvaje and Conclusions

I think the Corazon Salvaje group presentation was a great way to sum up one of the main themes of this class: Telenovelas really do break boundaries when it comes down to it. As the group members showed us, even though the best version of Corazon Salvaje was made in 1993, people to this day still talk about, still swoon over Juan del Diablo, and still stop dead in their tracks when they come upon one of the character names in real life.

It was so interesting to see the outrage and horrible comments in regards to the most recent remake of the show. The fact that the production of the new version made it look more modern could definitely have been one of the reasons for the lack of interest. From the clips I saw, the 1993 version was simply "classic".

This is similar to the recent version of 90210 that was released on the CW. I have heard that the new version does not even compare with the original version of the show that ran from 1990-2000.

Even though I don't think I'll become an avid telenovela watcher because of this class, I still think that I will use the different types of analyses we discussed (such as the Cinderella situation, etc.) when I watch American shows in my everyday life. Although they may not be exactly in the same format as telenovelas, some of the American shows definitely have similar characteristics involved. For example, shows on the CW such as Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill may be separated into seasons, therefore taking them out of contention of being a telenovela/soap opera (well besides the fact that they're in English), but they are chalk full of love triangles, violence, and more drama than one could ever imagine.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Marisa Roman

For my last blog post, I wanted to share my favorite part of the semester. By far, my favorite class was when we skyped Marisa Roman. I had really enjoyed watching Marisa play Veronica and Maria Suspiro in Cosita Rica, so when Dr. A told us she was going to skype with our class, I was looking forward to seeing what she was like. Our conversation with Marisa completely exceeded my expectations. There are few actresses in America who I admire because of both their looks AND personality. Marisa definitely has both. Her hilarious sense of humor, natural confidence and welcoming personality made our whole class fall in love with her.

Throughout our conversation with her, I appreciated her honesty and sincerity, and it was neat to see and understand the entire picture of her life as an actress. Even while we were talking with her, she was drinking this healthy oatmeal shake. I found it really interesting when she explained the task of taping scenes TWICE in Cosita Rica ( I don't know why I didn't think of this- since Maria and Veronica are twins after all). She spent a lot of time explaining how the cast members in scenes with the twins would dread having to tape scenes twice, but I'm sure it was just as exhausting for her to tape these scenes over and over and over again (playing Maria a couple of times, and then Veronica). Switching gears back and forth is not an easy task, and Marisa was able to successfully play that role.

Thank you, Marisa, for speaking with our class! You kept us laughing the entire time.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Not Everyone in Entertainment is Crazy

In class on Tuesday we skyped Primera Actriz Julie Restifo and the renowned Brazilian director Claudio Callao. At first I was really nervous because I’ve never spoken to anyone in the television industry before and I didn’t know what to expect. My previous impression of celebrities and their personalities stem from the media; for example, crazy Lindsay Lohan or Charlie Sheen.

I found it really neat how easy to talk to both Julie and Claudio were. It was really cool to talk to Julie and Claudio and learn that people that work in the entertainment industry are down-to-earth and easy to talk to. They both had really interesting life experiences to share with us and I'm happy I got to talk with them.

Being able to connect everything that I’ve studied and researched with our conversation Tuesday was really beneficial. I really appreciated all of the inside scoop on the telenovela world that Claudio and Julie shared with the class. Through working on the class assignments (having to watch a whole season of a telenovela) the papers and the presentations, I have really gained a greater appreciation for the telenovela genre.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Body Image

I am pretty far from a feminist, but something I've found very interesting in class is looking at the issues of body image and how females are portrayed in telenovelas. I have a lot of respect for Leonardo Padron after learning about the normal Venezuelan view of women. Seeing his telenovelas addressing this issue outright, like in La Mujer Perfecta, is really cool. I consider our culture as having pretty harsh standards for women as far as looks go, but it sounds to me like we are a far cry from Venezuela when it comes to standards. I feel the pressures here in America as we are bombarded by images of beautiful models and movie stars. I can't imagine being a young girl in Venezuela where you are bombarded with Miss Universes. I would hope that I would still have confidence in myself as I am, but it sounds like the pressures there are more etched into the culture than here. Here, I think we recognize that the pressures exist, where in Venezuela, from what Dr. A has said about conversations with her family and friends, the pressures are not recognized but are accepted as commonalities.
A twist to this that I also find interesting is the issue of women using their bodies to get what they want. This takes the body image issue to another level. Not only are women pressured to look perfect by the mere beauty of the women they see, they are also seeing that being beautiful and sexy is also a necessary attribute to get what you want in life. The whole body image issue is always going to be a big one, but I think recognizing the issue is very important, especially for young girls. Using Hispanic television's most popular outlet of telenovelas is definitely a great way to do this.

I know many others have talked about how much this class has affected them but it’s so true, this honestly has been one of my favorite classes I have taken at UGA! I now it sounds cliché but this class has brought back the fun in learning. I am currently working on a Spanish minor and for a while was beginning to contemplate whether or not I wanted to continue pursuing the minor or not. I was feeling school itself was turning into a telenovela and wasn’t sure I was going to be able to keep up with it all! It was this class that made me decide to finish my minor, and made me remember that learning Spanish is fun!

Learning about telenovelas has been so interesting. I was curious coming into the class what all I would learn from a course just on Spanish soap opera and I was amazed at how much goes in to make the shows, all the social aspects and connections there are to the real world and real world issues. The telenovela isn’t just entertainment ( though there is much of that!) but its history. To the Latin culture it is what their life revolves around! I love getting to share all that we learn and of my new love for telenovelas to my friends and family. Everyone is always so baffled that I’m taking a class on soap operas but once I explain it they are jealous they aren’t taking the class! I’m so happy that I took this class and got to now get hooked onto one more form of entertainment!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Beauty in Telenovelas

Per our group presentation, my group members and I were challenged to look deeper into the women's issues present in the telenovelas we are studying. Present in each telenovela is a similar depiction of beauty. I wonder who in the telenovela industry, or the media industry, or even the world for that matter is responsible for these concepts of beauty and it's seemingly uniform definition. Consumer industries feed off the unrealistic expectations that they sell to their consumers. Everything from makeup to clothes to food is advertised by the world's most "beautiful" people. Continuing what I stated in class, it saddens me that we live in a world where now even supermodels, the most gorgeous women alive, are even more unattainably beautiful due to technological advances in media. It's amazing to me how contradictory our world is today. In a new age where people are being told to express themselves, be comfortable with their own identities, we are steadily and even more forcible trying to sell them an image of being even better than that. For Christ's sake, animals are now getting testicular implants. Somewhere we've gone horribly wrong. I feel that mass media outlets, and telenovelas in particular should be held more responsible for the consequent effects their shows cause. As consumers we have a lot of power. If as a whole people demanded more media responsibility, I think we'd see some changes in how things are done.

Unhappy telenovela-er

So, when I was researching for our group project on consumption I happened to stumble across some plot spoilers for my telenovela, Rubi. NOT COOL. I was innocently minding my own business, being a good student, etc...just researching away when there it was, right in front of me...in big, black, bold letters--THE ENDING of my telenovela. When I saw it, I think I literally groaned out loud...maybe even shed a tear (okay, okay I'm exaggerating--but, I thought about it). Not because the ending was terrible (actually I kind of think it is) but because I wanted to live every moment of my telenovela on pure emotion, never knowing what was coming next...And now, and now my dream was ruined.
Needless to say for the rest of my researching, I had to cover my eyes and peer through the cracks in my fingers to make sure the web page I was looking at was a safe zone ( AKA a place free of spoilers). I already knew the ending, but I was going to make darn sure that I did not spoil the events between now and then by reading too much. Although this was an unwelcome learning experience, I have to say my strong reaction to the end-ruining information got me thinking--isn't funny how people spend the entire time watching a show trying to predict the ending, yet they actually don't want to know? Watching a telenovela is a very delicate process. We want the details, but there is a process we must endure to gain insight into the plot. If this process moves too quickly, if we miss an episode, or skip to the end via a plot spoiler---we are instantly thrown off balance- and we don't like it.

Watching a telenovela takes patience and dedication. I have sat for hours so far watching my telenovela. I have sat through tortuous break up scenes and tragic death scenes in order to earn my right of passage to the finale of the episode. In a way, I feel like I have been cheated as the ending was just throw in my face--no warning..no nothing. This also goes to show how much technology affects the telenovela. Twenty-five years ago the only way a telenovela would be spoiled for someone is if a heartless friend or family member gave the ending away. Now a days, with the Internet spilling over with information we have to tread softly and carefully in order to maintain the mystery of the telenovela...

In any case, I am currently trying to forget that I saw the ending...I am hoping if enough time goes by I can push it way, way back into brain storage...and go into the final season untainted. Ya, ya I know...fat chance.

Social issues in telenovelas

In previous blog posts and essays for this class, I have focused on the issue of social critiques being made by telenovelas. In class, we have talked about Cosita rica's portrayal of the Chavez regime, La Mujer Perfecta's analysis of beauty, etc. In my telenovela, Sin tetas no hay paraíso, the issue of beauty too is brought into question. As I have mentioned before, the novela questions a society that treats women like commodities, prefers "fake" over "real," and values only a woman's physical appearance. However, despite its efforts at social commentary, the women in the novela are still portrayed in this same way. Only Miss Colombia worthy women are ever seen, constantly in bikinis, having sex, and seducing men. I argued in my Representation and Identity essay that for this reason, the novela fails in challenging hegemonic power relations between men and women, and thus fails as a social critique. However, I just didn't understand WHY this was the case. Why does the novela, despite all of its efforts at questioning society, fall into the same trap as every other telenovela. It wasn't until we started studying the consumption of telenovelas that I got a sense of why this was so.

Consumption has everything to do with why telenovelas fail in making serious critiques of society. Despite the efforts and good intentions of the writers, actors, directors, editors, etc, at the end of the day telenovelas are a product to be sold by a large network. These networks exist for one reason and one reason only: to make profits. Network executives could care less if their telenovela challenges the status quo, so long as it makes the network (and of course, themselves) lots of money. It is exactly this reason why telenovelas constantly fall back on the same tropes. They want to draw in as large of an audience as possible, because as we have seen, ratings are like God. For this reason, social critique is included with violence, sexist imagery, and other things the run contrary to the critical message of the telenovela (if it even exists in the first place). Networks want to appeal to the intellectual side of their country, as well as wanting their telenovela to "sube cerro." It is this unfortunate combination that makes the medium of the telenovela a poor one with which to make commentary.

Hopefully, however, things may one day change. Seeing issues like autism being tackled in La Mujer Perfecta give me some hope, but only some. Don't get me wrong, I am still hopelessly addicted to my telenovela. However, I am increasingly disillusioned with novelas that try to make social commentary while working for a large network, but such is the way that things are.

Part-Time Job

It has occurred to me that telenovelas are truly more than just a form of entertainment and past time to its viewers. I’m not so sure if I’d be correct in saying telenovela fan-hood is a way of life but for lack of better terminology, let’s go with saying that it is a way of life. The commitment that goes along with watching a telenovela honestly is no walk in the park. It very different from the typical TV show fan-hood in the U.S. where you only have to donate an hour of your time, once a week, for maybe 5 months to be a true and die hard fan. Oh not so fast my friend. In el mundo de telenovela, it’s a week long, possibly one hour a day commitment, trumping the die hard fans of American Television shows. So all you The Office fans out there, don’t even try to trump on the fan-hood of those La Mujer Perfecta fans out there. After a week of putting in work in front of the tube (Television), La Mujer Perfecta viewers have seen five times the episodes that American TV Series viewers have. And to be truly honest with my peers, I never committed to a show/series like I did for our mid-term paper. I watch tons of Donde Esta Elisa? and maybe watched as many episodes of that as I have ever seen of the HBO series Entourage.

The commitment does not stop with just merely watching the episodes and tuning in daily. With social media ever so important in all industries in our current era, posting comments on blogs, on Twitter, and Facebook are now a major part of the viewership of telenovelas. This is where, in my opinion, viewership is taken to the next level. This separates the minor leaguers from the major league right here. The seriousness of the telenovelas and their fans are expressed through these interactive beacons of opinion and concerns. As we heard from one of the presentations last week, people express true feeling for characters of these shows through these social media. In a way, social media helps to further develop the characters in these telenovelas into real figures for its viewers and those who read these comments on social media. I’m not sure if viewers of Soap Operas have the same kind of passion when it comes to expressing opinions on social media. I did check out a couple blogs for Soap Operas and from my initial visits I can say it didn’t quite have the same affect as some of the comments we have read in lecture and presentations.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Greater Appreciation

As we begin to wind down our semester together as a class, I must say that this class taught me more than I expected. Yes, I knew that we would learn about the craft of telenovelas and their importance to the Latino community, but I didn't expect to become so attached to my recent in-depth knowledge of telenovelas to the point that I would be willing to share what I know with others who I'm sure could care less. I feel as though I have discovered something that no one knows about, partly because those in my social circle have either never seen or heard of telenovelas. While I have attempted to watch a telenovela or two in my past, I was never fully aware of its impact on the lives of others.

I can now say that I understand all of the hard work put into the production of telenovelas, especially those that lack a significant budget, yet are still able to work with what they have and the final result doesn't look half as bad as an American soap opera. I also realize the love and passion put into writing the script for a telenovela, especially those involving real life issues. It takes a lot of skill to incorporate a story plot around actual events and emotions as seen in the production of "Cosita Rica", where the reactions surrounding Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez are a major part of the entire production.

I hope more Americans will develop a better appreciation for telenovelas like I have. It's important to experience other cultures and with television being one of Americans favorite pastimes, watching a telenovela is a great start.

victim of superficiality

I'd like to share something that I've recently begun to notice in my workplace. As a disclaimer this is not intended as a stereotypical or racist blog merely an observation which I have also discussed with my fiance, who agrees that vanity is a bit of an epidemic in his culture. You see I work in a restaurant and I personally am not one to waste my make up and hair care products unnecessarily. This means that my pre-work preparation consists of a shower a ponytail holder and my uniform. No make-up, not straightening no jewelry. However all of the other females I work with seem to put a significant amount of effort into their appearance and though they are required to wear their hair up while at work they nonetheless proceed to straighten it and apply a full face of make up. Well that being said I've never really cared whether I look attractive at work because quite frankly I'm not trying to impress anyone. The only people who's opinion of my appearance I really care bout are my fiance's and my own. Well recently I've noticed the females I work with "subtly" attacking me and my appearance through snide remarks like this one "Oh I looked at some of your pictures on facebook and it doesn't even look like you, you must only put the really good pictures on facebook." I mentioned this to my fiance and he was a bit infuriated and then proceeded to rant about the superficiality and jealousy in his race. I just find it interesting because yes it's true snide remarks such as this are to be expected from females of all cultures however the women I work with seem to deny the existence of natural beauty. It's as if they believe that without makeup and everything it's not possible to be attractive. I asked my fiance about why he thinks this sort of vanity exists and he said that in his opinion he believes it's because the perceptions and roles of women has made even less progress in hispanic countries than it has in the U.S. therefore putting more focus on physical appearance than other aspects of personality. I suppose this does make sense because not too long ago when women were more discriminated against there was significantly more emphasis on there appearance and less often was it acceptable for a women to walk out of the house without fixing herself. I haven't yet reached any sort of conclusion about this at this point its just something I've observed that has quite frankly begun to irritate me. I suppose once I do come to some sort of conclusion about this topic I will expand but as of now it is what it is I suppose.

Coming to the end and wanting more

I can't believe this class is coming to an end soon. Not because I am graduating in May (unfortunately), but also because I had no idea it was going to affect me in this way. Its not like I'm gonna tune into Univision and watch a telenovela night in and night out, BUT now that we have been working on our consumption projects my group member's telenovelas look soooo cool I need to watch em. I'm gonna start watching some that are online as condensed versions. I still think telenovelas run a bit long but the stories are so captivating! My grandma always watched them when I was a kid and I had to also since it was the only TV in the house, it was always a chore. Since then I always thought, "oh yea, telenovelas, that's my grandma's thing," well move over G-ma, because it's my thing now too!
For too long she has hogged these dramatic masterpieces, and it took a class in college to reel me in when I could've been watching these all along!?! Full disclosure, I took this class half-jokingly because I never thought we could go so in-depth with telenovelas beyond the sometimes shady acting, but boy did we ever. I still am anti-rosa, but hook me up with a ruptura and I'm hooked, a story with a message/lesson, that's what I need.
My next endeavor is watching Cosita Rica, I mean come on, sticking it to Chavez via entertainment...genious!!! La Mujer Perfecta also intrigues me because 1. I love mujeres and 2. the thought of women thinking they must be perfect blows my mind! Ladies, I don't discriminate, stop with the fake, all natural is better. Stop being so skinny, a little thick looks healthier and way hotter.
Yes, JRLC 5060 has opened my eyes to a medium of entertainment I seldom glanced at, gracias Dr. A.

Disabilites on TV shows

Good job to Leonardo Padron on his inclusion in some of his telenovelas of disabilities. A recent study found that at least among American tv shows, there was a very small percent of characters with a disability, which doesn't at all portray the reality of one in eight people having some disability.

Padron has in several novelas included main characters with disabilities and realistically these characters don't magically get healed in the end. In his most recent, La Mujer Perfecta, the protagonist, Micaela suffers from Aspergers Syndrome which is a form of Autism. He infused the show with depictions of real life issues and struggles that people with this syndrome face, infusing awareness raising information with entertainment. Another show he did this with was Ciudad Bendita, where the main character, Bendita Sanchez suffers from a limp.

The article on the Inclusion in the Arts & Media of People with Disabilities website focused more on how actors and actresses with disabilities are not hired for major tv network shows but also mentions the small minority of characters with them. I think that if shows can powerfully hold an audience like novelas can, that the writers should use this to help inform people about the world around them. Although, for some tv shows are an escape from the sad realities of things like disabilities, I commend Padron for his efforts to help raise awareness of disabilities and diseases.

The article was published last September in preparation for October which is National Disability Employment Awareness Month:

http://www.iampwd.org/new-study-reveals-lack-characters-disabilities-television