Thalia in Maria la del Barrio

All of a sudden everyone is a novelero!

Whether that is a new trend or just my imagination getting the best of me, it does seem that lately telenovelas are increasingly the subject matter of many a water cooler conversations, or agua fresca platicas, whichever you prefer.  Perhaps it’s just my accumulation of years making me realize and accept this reality – that soap operas for us Latinos are like the arroz and frijoles of our diet, we can’t ever seem to get enough of them.

No matter how cheesy, unbelievable, badly-acted, overdone, and ridiculous the storylines may be, we continue watching.  Every new season an opportunity to watch our favorite actors ping pong between protagonist and antagonist roles, for artists of the music world to prove themselves as thespians of the small screen, for once-headlining-starlets to transition into motherly and grandmotherly roles, and the best thing about our soap operas is that they end after a few weeks or months – closure, what could be better!  Then on to the next batch of Mexican, Colombian, Venezuelan, Brazilian, etc.-made novelas where we as the audience are the ultimate judges of which actors are worth our commitment of at least five hours a week.

The likes of Thalia, Lucero, Veronica Castro, and many more, owe their entire careers to our acceptance of their acting chops in one soap opera after the next.

And while the money-making conglomerates behind this multi-million dollar industry continue battling it out over legal rights, actors, scripts, and so forth, in Spanish-speaking households across the world families continue gathering around the tube every night to watch their latest and most favorite dramedies unravel one sixty minute episode, including commercial breaks and orchestrated music, at a time.  For me that was always the greatest appeal of the telenovelas growing up.  Mom and dad, my six brothers and sisters, and me, all sitting around the living room watching Marimar, Maria la del Barrio, Dos Mujeres un Camino. It was better than watching Little House on the Prairie, Night Rider or even The Visitors because my parents didn’t require translations for these shows and they liked them better too.  

Even my dad, who normally was all grunts and groans, was there with us almost every single night laughing and lamenting about the silliness taking place on the tube.  It was as if vicariously we were transporting ourselves into a make-believe world where happy endings were always guaranteed, no matter what the trials and tribulations of life.  We each had our own reasons for wanting to be there.

It was a break from reality…I think it still is.