So, at this point I'm about 30 episodes into El Clon, and it's safe to say that I'm addicted. Do any of you sit around watching a telenovela all day, while telling yourself that it's okay because technically it's homework? I'm hoping I'm not the only one! I'm probably not alone in my addiction to Telemundo drama, but here's an opinion that I may be absolutely alone in: I hate the male protagonist, Lucas. And not only do I genuinely not like him, but I want the female protagonist, Jade, to fall in love with another man. So I thought I'd take this week's blog post to talk a little bit about how I know who's going to end up together, why I don't want the protagonists to end up together, and how that relates to the narrative of telenovelas.
First thing is first- background! El Clon is essentially a story of star-crossed lovers. Jade, a Muslim-American woman, is in love with a Latin-American man named Lucas. However, their love is forbidden. Jade is already promised to another man, Said (whom she marries), and relationships with non-Muslims are strictly not allowed. Lucas, on the other hand, cannot be with Jade because his family members don't trust Jade's intentions, and seem intent on his marrying Marisa (which he does). (Marisa is the girlfriend of Diego, Lucas' dead twin). Oh and one more thing- Jade lives in Morocco and Lucas lives in San Diego.
Obviously, I know Jade and Lucas are going to end up together. The telenovela will somehow end with the resolution of Jade and Lucas' dilemmas in trying to be together, and they will live happily ever after. How do I know? First of all, the majority of the story lines in the telenovela revolve around Lucas and Jade. Somehow, everything ties back to their being together. Second, a character named Zoriada predicts it about 15 times. And finally- there's the opening credits. Sure, all the actors have their names on the opening credits, and a few even have their faces briefly shown. But none of them have nearly as big of a share of the limelight as Mauricio Ochmann and Sandra Echeverria, the actors who play Lucas and Jade. The entire intro revolves around the two, which tells me that they're the stars of the show. They're the protagonists of the show, and they're undoubtedly going to end up together.
Now you might be wondering why I would be against the union of the two protagonists of a telenovela, especially when those protagonists are so clearly meant to end up together. Well, here's a short answer for you: I don't like Lucas, and I don't like the way Lucas treats Jade. Lucas and Jade have had multiple opportunities to run off together, and every single time, Lucas doesn't show and Jade does. I mean seriously, every single time. And every time, Lucas sacrifices nothing, whereas Jade sacrifices EVERYTHING and puts her life on the line. Now, maybe I would be able to ignore Lucas' inability to show up and be the hero of the hour. He definitely faces ill-timed challenges that could maybe- just maybe- justify his not showing up. That being said- Lucas never fails to show up for Marisa for her crisis. There's even a couple where Lucas doesn't show up for Jade because he's too busy dealing with Marisa. It's hypocritical to me, that he's always there for Marisa, often at the expense of Jade's well-being, yet he calls Jade his soulmate. The two, coupled together, make me think less of Lucas, and doubt that he's good enough for Jade. I don't want her to end up with him, because he doesn't do enough for her, whereas her husband- Said-does everything for her. So I'll admit it, I want Jade to end up with Said.
When I first started to dislike Lucas, I definitely felt a little guilty. How could I not want the protagonists to end up together? And how could I want the protagonist to end up with an antagonist? I knew that wasn't how I was supposed to feel. But the thing is that Said is not the typical antagonist. Sure, he gets in the way of the true love story, but he's in no way a bad guy. That's what makes this show so interesting. No character is black or white- and by that I mean that there is no character who is entirely good or bad. They're all a mixture of both good and bad. And that's important, in considering the narrative of telenovelas because it shows a move away from the typical antagonist/protagonist prototypes. Meaning characters are no longer simplified to fit into boxes, but are rather dynamic characters that grow and change and adapt to specific circumstances.
So, yes, I don't like the protagonist and I don't want him to end up with Jade. But that merely means that this telenovela is more engaging for the watchers. Rather than watching a show that all but tells you how to feel, watchers get to participate as the drama unfolds, and form their own opinions. And to me, that seems like the hallmark of a truly great telenovela.