Here is one of the forementioned jams: very cheesy but undeniably adorable...
After learning about the characteristics of telenovelas in class, many primetime dramas that I watch on television strongly share these traits. One of my all-time favorite teen dramas is “The O.C.” “The O.C.” was on air from 2003 to 2007, and it took place in Orange County, California. As we have learned in class, in the first episode of the telenovela, the two main characters meet for the first time. The first episode of “The O.C.” begins with Ryan, the protagonist, going to jail for robbery. His attorney is Sandy Cohen. Sandy realizes all the potential that Ryan has to offer, and he insists that Ryan stays with him and his family for some time so that Ryan can stop getting into dangerous situations. Ryan then stays with the Cohen family and becomes best friends with Sandy’s son, Seth.
Towards the end of the first episode, Ryan steps outside of the Cohen house to smoke a cigarette. There on the sidewalk next to him is Marissa. Immediately, the two make a strong connection. Marissa and Ryan’s plot line is especially interesting because Marissa comes from one of the wealthiest families in Orange County, whereas Ryan is abandoned from his alcoholic mother. The plot thickens when Marissa’s boyfriend Luke picks up Marissa in his truck. The love triangle is immediately born, which is a very important element of the telenovela. “The O.C.” series is completely addicting, just like a telenovela, because of family issues, multiple love triangles, many issues with the law, bankruptcy, and everyday issues that teens must deal with.
Ever since I was a little girl, my family would always sit down at 7 o’clock and turn on Univision, because it was time for the telenovelas to start, and to this day whenever I go home to visit my parents, it’s the same story. The telenovela tradition has been instilled in me, and I will admit it, I am most definitely a telenovelera. When I was in high school, I would get home, watch the telenovela “Rebelde” and then wait until 7 for the next telenovela to come on. It was a part of my daily routine. Weekends were torture because you just wanted to see what was going to happen from Friday’s episode, and of course the cliffhangers on Fridays are the worst. It’s so funny because when we discussed the addiction to telenovelas throughout Latin America, I could totally relate. Sadly, here at school I work late and hardly get a chance to watch them but I look forward to going home and seeing the novelas, because it doesn’t even matter if you’ve seen the whole thing or not, you get so pulled into the telenovela with just one show. I am looking forward to learning more about the art of creating the telenovela and how exactly telenovelas came around into Hispanic culture. It just amazes me how one genre of entertainment can be such a large part of the Hispanic culture. They even have telenovelas for every age group almost. In the mornings on the weekends, they have telenovelas targeted to little kids, and then they make the adolescent targeted telenovelas, such as Rebelde or Clase 406, and finally the normal telenovelas who are more targeted towards an adult audience. It just amazes me, and I cannot wait to learn more about telenovelas.
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?
It's so interesting how the telenovela encompasses so many cultures. Today in class, when we were talking about 'India, una historia de amor', I had to take a moment to separate the many cultures that were influential to the clip we viewed. Obviously the Brazilian culture had its influence as this telenovela was originally from Brazil and first broadcast in Portuguese. In addition, the influence of the Spanish culture was evident as the episode we watched was dubbed in Spanish. However, both of these influences are the types that one would expect to see in a telenovela. Then, the writers had the brilliant idea to set the story in India. It seems like such a random place for the backdrop of a Latin American telenovela, however, it seems like this is a creative way to draw people outside of the Portuguese/Spanish speaking population in.
While it's obvious that the telenovela is able to reach people from different backgrounds and cultures, I wonder what is it about the telenovela that makes it relevant to so many different types of people. I think the answer to this question lays in the title of this telenovela....'una historia of love'. No matter where you're from or what language you speak, everyone has an interest in love. Whether it’s the joy experienced from returned love, the heartbreak from unrequited love, or the curiosity from never having experienced either-everyone has feelings towards it (even if they choose not to admit it). For this reason, the telenovela really speaks to people in a universal language--the language of love (not to sound overtly cheesy). As a result, the telenovela has been put in a position where it has the ability to reach and influence people the world over...because, when it comes down it it, what do people care about? Yes, people care about material possessions, but what they really care about is one another. We are wired to search for companionship in others, whether it be the love of a family, a friend, or a lover. The telenovela plays on this fact, and for that reason one does not have to be a Spanish speaker to relate to the storyline. We are all familiar with the concept of love, and as a result the telenovela continues to remain relevant to people from all different cultures.