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

Friday, January 28, 2011

Why the Telenovela Works

The Telenovela has the power to temporarily suspend warfare between countries, influence political races, create fashion trends and launch pop music acts to the top of the charts. But why are telenovelas so successful, while American Soap Opera’s are considered “second class”?

ABC’s “General Hospital” was first aired in 1963. 1963!? In my opinion as a professional TV viewer, 48 years is WAY to long for a show to be on the air. The show loses substance after a while and viewers become disinterested. No one (well I hope no one) has the time to be dedicated to a show for that long. Which is why I believe telenovelas running span of 6-15 months works.

In America it’s rare for any type of show to last more than a few seasons, and that’s due to several reasons. The main one that I’ve discovered in my research is, “We don’t care,” Well at least I don’t. How many times can Bill cheat on his wife? How many times can Mary have an affair with the sexy teenage gardener? After a while, things start to get repetitive, the show loses substance, and then the viewer moves on.

Now don’t get me wrong. American soap operas used to draw large audiences in the daytime slot. But when mothers started working outside of the house, they weren’t able to fill their children in on the complicated storylines that began generations ago. I mean, it’s a little difficult to start watching a show after you’ve missed 2576 seasons of it.

Telenovelas work. They quickly grab your attention, play your emotions and then provide you with the closure you’ve longed for. 6 months to a year is a something I don’t mind. Plus, this is America, who likes commitment anymore?

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