Question of the week: Telenovelas

When I was growing up, my mom never watched telenovelas. I doubt she had time to sit down with four kids running around. In fact, the only time she watched TV was when she ironed clothes or folded clothes still warm from the dryer. TV was just background noise.

The only people who watched telenovelas at home were Papá Chepe and Mamá Toni. When I was 8, my parents sent me and Danny to their home in el Cargadero, Zacatecas for a few weeks during the summer. I played all day with the kids in el Cargadero. In the evening, I’d settle in front of la tele with los abuelitos, to watch the latest chapter of Rosa Salvaje. Rosa (Verónica Castro) was the perfect heroine. Ricardo, Rosa’s wealthy love-interest, was swoon-worthy. And what’s more scary than evil twin sisters with big ’80s hair and shoulder pads?

I loved it.

But then I came back to the states, third grade and the Disney afternoon. I forgot all about Rosa and her rags to riches story.

In the next ten years, I’d get hooked on only two more telenovelas, Baila Conmigo and Soñadoras.

Since 2000, I haven’t paid much attention to the telenovelas that always confused me as a kid. A blonde person speaking Spanish? Really? Where were all the brown people? It wasn’t all so confusing. After all, I did learn plenty of insults and words like “idiota,” “jamás” and “engañar,” but the acting was bad and the plot lines were predictable. Plus, I had way too much going on to tune in every evening for an hour.

La Pregunta: Are you a novelera/o?


30 thoughts on “Question of the week: Telenovelas

  1. Momo says:

    No, I don’t watch them intentionally, but I can’t help getting hooked on them for a few minutes anywhere between 7-10pm cuz that’s the time when my parents are glued to the TV. IMy favorites growing up were Muchachitas and then Corazon Salvaje… Eduardo Palomo looked super hot to me back in the day. I can’t believe my parents let me watch novelas growing up since most late-night novelas are like soft porn!

  2. I am hooked to novelas but usually to the repeats. I watch them as I am getting ready for work at 6 am on telemundo and then again at 5 when I am getting dinner ready. Right now I am glued to Bajo La Misma Piel and La Usurpadora. Novelas are pretty risque. I turn them off if my daughter comes in the room because I just don’t want to have to explain so many issues that she should not know about.

    I remember when we lives in Chile that when their version of La Madrastra came out, EVERYONE in the country watched it. It was huge. Their were big ads in the paper about who killed one of the characters. I remember my teacher reading the newspaper instead of teaching us because he too had to figure out the who-dunit mystery of the novela!

  3. I never used to watch or like novelas, even as a kid. But I was named after a character in one (thanks Mom!!), lol.
    It seems to me that English “soap operas” are watched mostly by women, whereas telenovelas are watched by men and women alike. Wouldn’t you say?

  4. I can’t say that I am a telenovero because whenever i’ve seen a spanish soap opera it cracks me up. The women are usually very sexually dressed and somehow the same plot always arises…

    I do however remember as a kid being forced to watch Quinceañera with Thaila. I think that was the last soap opera I ever watched.

  5. Not really. I get interested in them whenever I’m in El Salvador because everyone watches them there. After dinner everything seems to shut down. But no matter how involved I get into them while in ES, when I come back to the US I lose all interest.

    The only time that didn’t happen was for Quinceañera. Talia was in it. It aired around the time when I was starting to think about my own fiesta rosa so it sucked me in.

    MadTV had a hilarious spoof on a telenovela and I’ve been trying to hunt it down ever since I saw it. The spoof is actually responsible for the name of my Mac. 😀

  6. According to my mom, I used to watch novelas with the neighbor who used to take care of me in the daytime. My mom hated it because she thought I was watching too much t.v. In the 70s and early 80s we didn’t get any Spanish-language stations until we got cable…in NM, go figure.

    Several years ago when I first started grad school, an amiga and I were totally hooked on Rosalinda–it was like candy!

  7. Claudia says:

    yes I have to admit I am a HUGE novelera
    my mom didn’t watch when I was a kid so neither did I, but now with more leisure time we both do…
    Its my guilty pleasure, they eye candy is the best
    BTW if you’d rather read about the scandalous adventures try sin tetas no hay paraiso by gustavo bolivar

  8. Beatriz says:

    I remember being a kid and going over to my grandmother’s house in ELA and the TV always having novelas on while my grandmother sat at her sewing machine making all sorts of clothes, including all those puffy dresses I would wear. That was the only place I saw them. My mother did not like to watch them. As I grew up other things became popular like the 90’s with the Cure, Depeche Mode, The Smiths, and I lost all interest.

    In college it became another story. I took up residence at UC Santa Cruz Merrill College – Chicano/Latino floors. I got questioned – HEAVILY- by alot of the girls coming from the farming communities such as Fresno, Bakersfield, etc. as to why I don’t watch novelas. It was a staple in their family homes. I was asked if I was truly a chicana/latina. This lead to conversations about what type of music I liked and what I liked to do. I really wasn’t into much spanish language music. I was seen as an outsider who needed to be inducted into the culture. It seemed like a pressure situation and I was questioning myself.

    But I was willing to go along for the ride. I borrowed a TV from a friend of mine. I was exposed to different things because of those girls.

    I now look back and THANK those girls in those dorm rooms that year. From them I learned to appreciate spanish language music, I enjoy talking in spanish, and yes watching novelas. I have watched many in my life time since college (I would record them and would often be sooooo behind – up to a month’s worth). I rarely and I do mean rarely buy any CD’s in english – I go straight for the spanish language CD’s – like the adorable Pepe Aguilar!

    I’m a NOVELERA and proud of it too! 🙂

  9. Beatriz says:

    A few of my favorites –

    Simplemente Maria – Victora Ruffo
    Corazon Salvaje – Eduardo Palomo and Edith Gonzalez

  10. I watch novelas here and there, but I don’t watch any anymore because TV is a major waste of time.

    Soñadoras is one of the best novelas I’ve seen and I’m often quoting it.

  11. I hadn’t thought of Rosa in YEARS! Wasn’t that the same summer that they showed Muchachitas (w/ a very young Kate de Castillo) and Cuna de Lobos?


  12. chispa says:

    gosh your post made me think about writing down every novela i ever watched but that would take forever, lol. i am surprised no one has mentioned DOS MUJERES, UN CAMINO. that was a very popular one 😛

  13. How terrible is it that I know all the theme songs to the ones that were mentioned in your post and the ones others have commented on?!

    The last one I got hooked on was La Fea Mas Bella which was terrible cuz it ain’t no Ugly Betty or Betty la Fea. My white, white, boyfriend was so excited to see it on DVD at the store. He said, “Look it’s your nu-ella!!!!”

    My favorite novela, by far, was the one with Gael Garcia Bernal EL ABUELO Y YO. The tears I cried!

  14. fabian says:

    Hands down: El extraño retorno de Diana Salazar, Los probres tambien lloran, El Maleficio.

  15. Cindy says:

    Oh man I remember some of these. Some memories of Rosa Salvaje, Mari Mar and Maria Mercedes come to mind. The funny thing is that I always thought they were so over dramatic and silly on one hand but then I went and got sucked into La Locura de tu Amor. I don’t know what it is but they have something keeps you glued to the tv. They are so extremely over dramatic that it is the perfect escape from the every day things that get to you.

    I have been out of the loop and out of the country can someone recommend a real good juicy novela that I could buy? Thanks!

  16. Oh I was sooo into the telenovelas!! I remember watching Rosa Salvaje, Muchachitas, Simplemente Maria, Carusel, all the Thalia novelas and so many more. I liked them a lot more than the english soap operas because they actually ended. Now in my later 20’s I don’t have time, but my abuela still watches them. I occasionally sit down and try to watch them with her but it’s too much trying to keep up with the story line 🙂

  17. las telenovelas son pa’ no-velas (not to see). yeah, they have always been on. is hard not to watch them now and then when my mom or Ale are watching them, but I try not to. En que se acabo Victoria? =)

  18. haha! Funny you mention this because for a while, I quit watching them. All the stories seemed lame… the ol’ school ones were better! I watched, “Amor en Silencio” “Dulce Desafio”, “Los Parientes Pobres” (the novelas with LUCERO were always my favorite ones). I even liked the older OLDER ones like “Tu o Nadie” and “La Fiera”. THOSE were the best!

    I recently got into “Al Diablo con Los GUAPOS”. Now mind you, it’s the most retarded novela ever. The plot is so stupid. LOL But the characters are hillarious! They have me crackin’ up so I watch it. I even got my hubby watching it now. He thought it was stupid too but he can’t stop watching it with me either.

    We’re losers, I know. haha

  19. omg! or should i say AYM!!! — Ay Dios Mio!!! look, im starting to text lingo.
    i loved telelenovelas! to this day, quality time with my mother is watching novelas. since im not working, i spend an hour with her every day watching “ruby”. she is a women whose beauty is her curse, her quest to get out of the barrio and marry a wealthy man caused her to backstab her best friend, marry her fiance, leave her lover and kill her mother. its very good! the theme song “mujer tan bella, mujer tan mala, mujer que me arrebata!” haha! Right now, Ruby is starting to realize all she has gained may not be worth what she has lost… and as she admits her mistakes… she realizes… it may be too late… TAN TAN TAN! we will see what happens.

    my favs while growing up: Rosa Salvaje, MariMar, Quiceanera, and El Extrano Retorno de Diana Salazar! which is on YouTube!

  20. i was hooked on Topacio when i was a kid and the last novela i watched was, hmm, don’t remember the name but Ricky Martin’s ‘vuelve’ was the theme song.
    Don’t watch them, i get hooked, i got off them cold turkey.

  21. lo says:

    the word i added to my verbal arsenal many years ago thanks to telenovelas is GOLFA- although my Mom encouraged me to quickly forget it, i loved it instantly. Manu Chao must too, he is wearing it across his chest on his latest album cover.

    thanks to my parents tivo skills i was able to watch the telenovelas of the year in compact version- La Jimadora (the tequila one), Passion (the Pirate one), currently looking forward to the end of Al Diablo con los Guapos!

  22. I just got into Telenovelas over the last year. Previously, they were just background noise to me in the Latino household. I started watching to improve my Spanish and learn new words and phrases. I got hooked on Destilando Amor, which Lo described as La Jimadora. The plot was good, and you even learned about Tequila and how its made. It was based on the Columbian novela Cafe con aroma de Mujer. After that, I vowed never to get hooked again because I kept rushing home from wherever I was to be in front of the TV by 9 p.m. (it wasn’t the same watching it on the DVR).

    Some of the words and phrases I have learned from Telenovelas:

    1. “Ojalá que se lo coman los coyotes.” – “I hope he’ll get eaten by coyotes.”

    2. “Ese cuento no se lo come nadie.” – “Nobody is eating (buying) this story.”

    3. “Se puso un energúmeno.” – “He went apeshit.”

    4. “Mis chicharrones son los que truenan.” = My toasted pig skin is the crunchiest (I am the boss).

    5. “Me caes como higado encebollado.” = You make me want to puke.

    6. “Me agarré con las manos en la masa.” = I was caught with my hands in the masa (tortilla dough, i.e. cookie jar)

    and my favorite:

    7. ‘Pueblo chico, Infierno Grande” – Small town, Big Hell

  23. Quick intro: I found your blog a couple days ago and am fascinated! You certainly are an orgullo latino. =)

    With that said, I love novelas. They were’nt necessarily pushed upon me, but I do enjoy watching them even if it is just to critique the acting. Recently though the novela Fuego en la sangre has got me hooked! But then again, all Adela Noriega novelas get me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s