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

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Poor reactions to Sin tetas no hay paraíso

Just like most people in the class, I have become utterly obsessed with my telenovela. I find myself wondering about my favorite characters during the middle of my history class, while cooking dinner, while going to bed... it never escapes me! I have even expanded outside of STNHP and watched several other Colombian telenovelas. MTV 3 has a novela with Colombian and Mexican actors called Niñas Mal that I have been watching at work (instead of actually working). I have also watched an episode of Rosario Tijeras, another novela dealing with the drug trade, sicarios, etc. Rosario Tijeras would have been really cool to study for my Representation and Identity with regard to gender relations in the novela. Rosario Tijeras is a female character in who becomes a sicario, which needs no other explanation.
However, the aspect of these telenovelas that I have been most interested in has been the reactions of my roommates and friends towards them. I was excited for my roommates to walk into the house and see me on the couch watching "Mexican soap operas" (their words, not mine). Like an experiment, I wanted to see how they reacted. However, their criticisms really disappointed me for several reasons. At least twice, I was asked why I was watching "smut." Nobody could understand why I would be studying such a thing.
After several long conversations, friends and roommates at least came to accept that telenovelas were an incredibly interesting topic worthy of discussion. That being said, I was never quite convince any of them to watch an episode with me. Excuses of every type were made, ranging from unfamiliarity with Spanish, no time, etc. I wondered how these novelas could be any different (despite a smaller budget and language) than the shows that my friends watch. Surely the issues depicted in STNHP are far more interesting than those of The OC. Right? Although I would certainly never say that my 6 friends were any indication of a broader trend in the US, their reactions intrigued me. The genre is obviously popular worldwide, including here in the states. I wanted to know why most of them considered what I was watching to be trash. Their responses were unexpected.
Nearly all (5 out of 6) of the people who I asked the question responded as saying that the "low-budget quality" was why they were not interested. What does this mean on a broader level? Here in the US, people are obviously more accustomed to gaudy special effects and big-budget blockbusters. Directors like Michael Bay and James Cameron make their names by ostentatiously throwing huge budget effects, stars, sets, and plots at an audience willing to exchange it for any sort of real substance. Maybe I should have shown Caminho das Índias to them. Or maybe this says something broader about or society, but as to what it would say, I don't know. I would like to study this topic more as the semester progresses!


  1. I saw parts of India the other day!
    There were parts filmed in Dubai, which was kind of cool, but even the massive budget couldn't shake off that purely telenovela feel (i think it's the dramatic climaxes in the music. Even if i'm in another room, i can recognize that a telenovela is on because of this)
    If i hadn't known about the massive budget, and hadn't recognized Dubai, it could have been like any othere telenovela.

  2. I am very invested in my telenovela, the dialogue is incredible. But call me American, but the low-budget quality is why I have a hard time watching it for long periods at a time.

    I guess it's just more difficult for me to get into it for the long haul marathons when the quality always makes it seem like actors on a set.

    But apparently it's not just about budget anymore. My aunt just got a new type of tv a Vizio High Def thingy (yes, technical name) that makes everything look like it's real life/a reality show. It has ruined everything. It's supposed to be "really nice" and "super high def" but when I was watching one of my favorite shows on her new tv, it looked exactly like a telenovela-- just actors on a set. What had happened to the smoothness, the picture? It was miserable. It changed what the shows were originally shot to look like. It ruins the "movie magic" of it all.

    I am trying to get over it, but man, a beautiful picture really makes a difference.