Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Teresa Telenovela

I've been watching the telenovela "Teresa" and I've been reeled into the emotional drama and contrasting characters! This telenovela confronts the reality of wealth and social status in society. Throughout the first episode, Teresa is revealed as hiding the secret that her family is in poverty and that she lives in the ghetto. The telenovela magnifies Teresa as a social outcast. Teresa is publicized as a social outcast however only after her family's money situation is exposed. When her boyfriend Paulo exposes Teresa's secret as poor, he treats her with genuine disrespect wanting Teresa simply as his mistress because her and her family's social status would not be approved by Paulo's mother Genoveva. The telenovela address the stigma around poor verses rich because people treat others with money higher than those without money. In the beginning, Paulo desires to wed Teresa. However, suddenly when Teresa is unveiled as poor, Paulo throws away his idea of marriage and tells Teresa that he will pay Teresa and bribe her with lavish gifts for a "good time together."
Image result for teresa telenovela teresa and paulo ring

The characters range from poor to wealthy, extremely beautiful to average looking, designer brands to homemade clothing, intelligent to ignorant, and finally persuasive to submissive. The characters in Teresa contrast each other for emphasis. To begin, there is a perfect contrast with poor and wealthy between Teresa's family struggling in poverty versus the rest of the characters in the telenovela. Because the rest of the characters'  prominence of wealth surrounds Teresa, she is influenced to hide her socioeconomic identity. In addition, there is a contrast between designer brands which Paulo and Teresa's friend Ana wears versus the clothing Teresa's family hand sews for her. Next, there is also a contrast between the intelligent versus the ignorant characters. Teresa is an intelligent character that tirelessly works her way to excellent grades but then characters like Ana are ignorant because their family money allowed them to climb the education ladder. Finally, there is a strong contrast in persuasive and submissive  characters when the persuasive professor offers Teresa money for education and submissive Teresa allows herself to listen to his persuasions.

Image result for teresa telenovela teresa and professor
Thanks so much for your time reading!
Gabby John

Mariá la del Barrio

This telenovela stuck out to me for two main reasons: it was on Netflix and the number of episodes refrain from exceeding 100. Not only these basic reasons, but the plot also mirrors the classic "Cinderella-esque" style, which interests me the most. The idea of a fairytale portrayed through this medium, and receiving a tremendous amount of attention, seems somewhat silly. Right from the first episode,  Mariá la del Barrio plays into this style with a stone, medieval architecture in Maria's room. Her godmother comes in adorning a stylized costume to wake her up. To bathe. Black smudges cover her, presumably from the day before, working in the landfill. She confesses to dreaming of a literal prince-charming (tassels and everything). The quality of the show creates an anachronistic effect, making things look somewhat out of place, though, he moderate level of ridiculousness to the aesthetic of the show does not devalue the program.

Because this show mirrors a Cinderella structure, people watch it for the transformation aspect of the protagonist, Maria. For this transformation to take place, she has to begin from the bottom. And that's where we come in. She works in a landfill, her parents have already died, and her Godmother dies on her fifteenth birthday. From this point, she gets a second chance when a wealthy business man takes her into his home. He treats her well, but his wife and their maid despise her instantly. Her pureness and innocence might be what sets them off or causes jealousy. Later, she has a similar, stylized dream where poor cgi dresses adorn these "Evil Step-sisters". All of these events set the show up within the first episode. This cramming of exposition compounded with the stereotypical telenovela drama provides an enthralling hook for the series. It's Maria's ascent from poverty that provides significance for the piece, that and the hilarious expressions.

The Political Power of Melodramatic Resignification

Hey everyone!
These past few classes have really opened my eyes to the structure and significance of telenovelas. At first, I was skeptical as to how a simple love story delivered in installments could have a substantial impact on an entire culture of people. I immediately compared telenovelas to popular series in the United States such as Greys Anatomy and even the Bachelor. These shows spark entertainment, emotion, and laughter. However, after an episode or even season has ended Americans continue to live their lives. The shows might come up in conversation but there is really no impact on the United States as a whole. Therefore, the whole concept that telenovelas have political power and are capable of splitting a nation was extremely difficult for me to comprehend.
With that being said, this class has allowed me to explore the different types of telenovelas along with the cultural impact they have. In the article, Latin American Telenovelas: The Political Power of Melodramatic Resignification, the direct effects of telenovelas are clearly stated. First, telenovelas are able to provide an escape from reality for many people who might be burdened by economic hardships. This was extremely interesting to me because telenovelas allow people to have a couple of hours to look forward to a feeling of peace not just to simply be entertained. The times in which telenovelas come on are an essential part of a daily routine and provide emotional relief for people around the world.
In addition to entertainment, telenovelas are seen as one of South Americas most lucrative legal industries. When I first read this fact i was very surprised. Again, I compared the telenovelas industry to “show business” in the United States. I know that California thrives off of movies and television production, however it does not make up a substantial industry for the US as a whole. Therefore, I had trouble grasping the fact that telenovelas could be huge for the entire continent of South America. I then found that telenovelas are able to portray Latin American communities in a more desirable and unique light. This exotic portrayal of Latin America has made telenovelas more popular in the United States. I think this is a very strategic way to cross the media border in order to make the content of telenovelas more recognizable internationally.

I have consistently underestimated the effects of telenovela by a long shot. Not only do telenovelas have great impact on the lifestyle of Latin America, but they also have a huge hold on the economy of an entire continent. I had no idea that a simple TV show could have that effect. With the empire Latin America  has created with telenovelas throughout the centuries, it makes me really unhappy that the original national groups are losing their monopoly. The competition between countries developing Telenovelas allows these love stories to have an even greater impact on the world. All in all, I now fully believe in the title of the class because telenovelas are definitely more than melodramas.

Someone's Watching You / Alguien te mira-- an atypical telenovela

Before the first few days of class I honestly, believed that telenovelas were like soap operas and that they were all like Days of Our Lives or General Hospital.  After a few days I learned that absolutely any plot was possible in a telenovela and that none of the were like Days of Our Lives or General Hospital. I'm not a huge TV or movie person, but when I do watch TV I prefer action and suspense filled rather than romance or drama filled. To find out that telenovelas offered all of that really helped me in choosing my telenovela. The telenovela that I chose was exactly that. Alguien te mira tells the story of a botched friendship that eventually leads to one of the friends who couldn't join their plastic surgery. Instead Quintana opted for a lifestyle in a rural clinic while the friends he went through medical school with are making a small fortune in a plastic surgery clinic. When he visits his friends in the city several deaths occur there--little do they know it is him.  This telenovela represents the exact opposite of a traditional telenovela. It it barely a love story, it involves the main character as a criminal. Alguien te mira really is the definition of an atypical telenovela.

Lo que la vida me robó

Over the past week I have been watching "Lo que la vida me robó ". This is a traditional telenovela developed in Mexico by Angelli Nesma Medina. Honestly, when I first was reading about the different telenovelas that I could pick from, I never imagined that this would be the one I would choose. I didn't see myself really getting into it. Boy was I wrong! This story has so many twists and turns you just have to keep watching. I am obsessed and so excited to keep watching. I'm gonna give you guys a brief overview of what "Lo que la vida me robó " is really about. There is a family, the Mendozas', who used to be rich, but now, mainly due to the fact that their son, Dimitrio, has bad gamboling problems, are poor. While the father, Lauro, wants to adapt to their new financial situation and make the best of it, the mother, Graciela, is very set on keeping her pricey lifestyle. Their daughter, Monserrat, is very beautiful and desired by all men. Graciela arranged for Monserrat to marry the wealthy Sebastian de Icaza, obviously for her own benefit. This falls through, of course when Sebastian sees Monserrat with her true love, José Luis Álvarez, and calls off the wedding. Graciela is distraught because now she has no way of getting to the money. That is until the handsome and newly rich Alejandro Almonte comes to visit Lauro. Graciela arranges for Monserrat to marry Alejandro if he in turn pays off their debts. She also pulls some strings and gets José Luis thrown into prison and makes Monserrat believe he ran away with her money. While this story is extremely interesting and definitely has me hooked, I have lots of issues with each of the characters. First off, Graciela. She is by far the most devious and greedy woman I have ever seen on TV. She is trying to sell her daughter off to a man for her own benefit. Not just any man either- the son of her ex lover. While she is a very interesting character, she has extremely messed up morals. The only people she cares about are herself and her son. Dimitrio, oh Dimitrio where do I begin. He is one of the most frustrating characters I have ever witnessed. Everything he does makes me angry. He is definitely a mama's boy and gets away with everything. He believes he is above work and is willing to literally lead a woman who loves him and he despises to believe he will marry her but he's just taking her money. He, quite like his mother, cares about no one but himself and is constantly meddling anyway he can. Now Lauro, he seems to have Monserrat's best interests at heart, but he, quite like Graciela and Dimitro, spoils her rotten. He reinforces the idea that fathers let their daughters get away with anything. He doesn't care what Monserrat is doing or who she marries as long as she's happy. This is great and how it should be except he treats his wife and Dimitro like dirt. Now trust me, they are terrible people, but he fully enforces the "I am the man of the house I make the rules" mantra. He is an extreme patriarch. Considering the fact that he knows little to any of the very terrible things Graciela and Dimitro actually are doing, he treats them rather poorly, Monserrat is beautiful and honestly that's about it. She's naive and really doesn't seem like there's a thought going through her head that isn't about love and who she will marry. While I know this is typical of a telenovela protagonist, she really isn't a person I care for so much. She basically does whatever her mother tells her and then cries about it. I don't like how she is portrayed. There was one point when they had her say something intelligent and kind, but that was very short lived. José Luis Álvarez is by far my favorite character. While he has been arrested, shot at, and verbally abused all because of Monserrat's family, he still loves her and would do anything to return to her. This, while not exactly smart considering the danger he has gone through, is romantic and respectable. Finally, Alejandro Almonte. I'm not sure exactly how I feel about him. He too has been roped into Graciela's game and is paying the price, but he did try to buy Monserrat. I truly believe that I will eventually love Alejandro, I'm currently on team José Luis. Despite my critics on the characters, I do really enjoy this show. I think it is well done, although the family life seems a little out of date considering it was made in 2012. I can't wait to continue watching and see what curveballs "Lo que la vida me robó " throws at me next.

Nollywood and Telenovelas.

The entertainment industry of Nigeria, often referred to as Nollywood. Prior to this class, the influence television had on its audience never crossed my mind. But reflecting on Nigerian cinema, I have come to realize that television impacts the personal lives of its audience in so many ways and in different aspects of their lives.

Like telenovelas, a traditional type of Nigerian film almost always included a love story. But of course with different traditions comes different tales. Like the telenovelas, the female protagonist was always dirt poor, and had a horrible life while the male protagonist was the one that was rich and noble. In these stories, it was apparent that the female protagonist and prince would fall in love, but the drama was whether or not they would be able to be together because of things like family obligations and tradition. 

With the 60s came rebellion and the gaining of Nigeria’s independence. During this time, the purpose of film was to inform the viewers about the state of the country. It would often be exaggerated but existing issues relating to the Nigerian government such as corruption and lack of law enforcement. With the 90s and early 2000s came entertainment that reminded people that if you dream it, you can achieve it. For examples, shows like Jenifa and Tinsel, showed the struggle of individuals that started out poor and became rich and issues where the antagonist would do everything in their power to strip them of their achievements and money. The one thing these tv shows have in common through the decades are that they always end happily and the good guy comes out on top. 

The similarities and differences I was able to spot between the two cultures have peaked my interest and the connection to the audience make me even more excited to learn and watch telenovelas more than ever before.

"Mis XV" Episodes 1-9

“Mis XV” depicts the coming of age of Valentina and Natalia. They are best friends who were born on the same day at the exact same time. As the telenovela begins, Valentina is daydreaming about her quinceañera party because it is all she has ever wanted since she was a little girl. Turning fifteen means having an enormous party, being able to date, and ultimately having more freedom. As I have come to figure out, Valentina and Natalia are a dynamic duo; they are witty and are definitely not afraid to go out of their way to get what they want. Sometimes, this means pulling innocent pranks or getting into mischief. Most of the plot is centered around Valentina and Natalia’s friends/ classmates and their families. Like all telenovelas, “Mis XV” has several love conflicts. Valentina is in love with her fellow friend, Niko; however, it seems like all odds are against them. Her parents do not approve of him, she is not old enough to date boys, and to top it all off, there are several love triangles forming which prevent them from being together. Natalia, on the other hand, does not seem to care about boys or having a quinceañera. This all changed when Valentina’s brother comes back from traveling the world, and the two reunite. As of now, I am very hooked and can’t wait to see how the plot unfolds.

This telenovela is aimed at a younger audience, mainly teens. Because of this, I have been able to relate to characters and situations throughout the episodes that I have watched. However, I feel like there are also instances where the telenovela does not accurately represent Mexican teenagers. I spent the first four years of my life in Mexico, so I attended a few months of school there and can understand how school systems work. In the telenovela, the students attend the fictional Greenland School. In Mexico, it is very common for wealthier people to send their kids to very good private schools, which usually offer many extracurricular activities and foreign languages. Up to this point, I agree with the telenovela. In “Mis XV”, all of the students who attend the school wear uniforms; however, I do not think that any school, in whatever country you might be, would allow girls to wear very high heels as part of the uniform. The characters in the show are all supposed to be around thirteen or fourteen years old, so I feel like this was an attempt to glamorize the school even more. As a whole, the telenovela does not represent all of Mexico because a good majority of the characters are wealthy or upper middle class, which influences much of the plot.

            One thing I found interesting about “Mis XV” how the protagonist is portrayed. Valentina is insanely smart, popular, and gorgeous. What stands out about her is how her character is so empowering. She is so confident at such a young age, and I feel like that this was done to give the younger views an example of a role model. Valentina is not one to be concerned with appearances but rather what is inside is what matters. Natalia also possesses many of Valentina’s characteristics; however, she is a little bit less sure of herself, so I think she and Valentina make great friends because they are always there for each other.

            Even though this telenovela is very cheesy, I have very much enjoyed watching it, and I can’t wait to see what kind of trouble Valentina and Natalia get into!!!


Indian Soap Operas vs. Latin American TV Shows

I still remember the first day my mom got cable in our house. I was in third grade and was beyond ecstatic. My sister and I were jumping around in utter joy and excitement in our room. Cable TV is something every household in the United States has had ever since it was first discovered. But having it in a small country named Nepal was a big thing. One of the first things I ever watched was 8 p.m. Indian soap operas with my mom. It was very interesting with evil mother in-laws, poor innocent girls and rich handsome guys. I would always finish my homework before 8 p.m. so that my mom would let me watch them. After coming to the United States, I had a diverse group of friends who got me to watching Korean Dramas and I was hooked. I would watch them day and night. I had some Latin American Friends who had told me to check out telenovelas and I knew that they were very similar to the Indian soap operas that I used to watch but I had never taken the time to watch them. After just three classes and just two  episodes of La Patrona, the telenovela I will be watching and writing about this semester, I can say that it is, in many ways, very similar and different to the Indian TV shows I used to watch.

Like TV shows in every country, Indian TV shows are lengthy or short depending on the ratings. Usually, a successful television series lasts for 1-2 years and reaches ranges from 500-600 episodes with some exceptions that have reached over 2000 episodes. I noticed that La Patrona, like most other Latin American telenovelas, were about 120 episodes. Some of the most common things I noticed in both types of TV shows are how women are portrayed. In a lot of the TV shows, women were usually the poor ones being swept away by a rich prince charming. There would be a love triangle, the protagonists would always have enemies and their biggest enemy would usually be someone from the family like the girl’s in-laws (especially mother in-law). Another similarity I found in Latin American telenovelas and Indian soap operas was the dramatic background music, facial expressions and dramatic acting. When I watched the little excerpts of telenovelas in class, I instantly would notice the mood and what was going on in the telenovela from those three things. Another big thing that I noticed was how the protagonist, usually the girl, would have one bad luck after another whereas the antagonist would have infinite amounts of good luck and in the end, there would be a happy ending for the protagonist while the antagonist would pay for their wrongdoings.

I have not watched a lot of telenovelas and can’t say that all the telenovelas fall under the comparisons I made above and neither do all the Indian soap operas I have watched in the past fall under my list. But I do see similarities in the two types of TV shows and this connection makes me want to watch the telenovelas even more because I have always loved watching the Indian soap operas.

Latin American soap opera
Indian soap opera. The meaning of the title is "What is the name of this love?"

 La Reina Del Sur 

Before this class, I did not know anything about telenovelas except for the fact that they are on television and that they are spoken in Spanish. Throughout these past three classes, I have been proven wrong in the fact that they are so much more! They are spoken in many more languages and come from a multitude of countries. They are extremely popular and get people very sucked in and involved. They are life stories, and while sometimes completely out of reality, they all have a central meaning that can relate to real life circumstances and some real world problems.
 I have started watching La Reina Del Sur, and while I am not more than five episodes in, so many complex situations have already occurred. The protagonist, Teresa Mendoza, recently lost her husband, Guero, who belonged to a drug cartel. Any affiliation with cartels never end well so you can kind of see where this is going. The men who killed her husband are now after Teresa and try to kill her. She escapes many near death situations and somehow keeps on living her life. She is forced to move to Spain and start a new life there where she begins work at a strip club. She goes through many obstacles and constantly fears for her life. 
 Today in class, we learned about how people are represented throughout these stories. Women, are generally portrayed as pretty and poor and that they need a man. Teresa is shown as all of these. This whole time, she is often called beautiful and many men take advantage of her because of her beauty. She, being a woman, is represented as just a beautiful face. Her job at the strip club serving men does not really help her cause either. The representation of women is just like in real life. Many people think women are just good to look pretty and be inferior to men. The men in this story hold high power positions and Teresa looks to them for help and protection from the struggles she is going through. She is constantly being put down and people are out to get her. This is often annoying because you just want her to live somewhere peaceful and have happiness again. I know she eventually will rise from this poor lifestyle, because the title translates to The Queen of the South. So clearly things will get better and the representation of her as a woman will change to where she is in charge and is a powerful woman exceeding the usual representation of the damsel in distress.
These telenovelas sure do know how to draw people in and make them want to root for the protagonist. I was told that people get extremely into these stories and now I see how. Everything is very dramatic, but it also just makes you want to watch more. I'm excited to see how this story rolls out and to see how everything comes together!

Teresa and her late husband, Guero 
Teresa working at the strip club as a waitress

Teresa getting help from the powerful head
of the drug cartel: Mr. Epifanio Vargas