Monday, August 31, 2015

The Complex (and Successful) Typology of Bajo el mismo ceilo

I do not consider myself a telenovela fan by any means. With the exception of my grandmother, my family and I would often avoid telenovelas (or, as one of my uncles used to call them, “no-ver-las.”). I originally thought that these programs featured the same structure as soap operas: full of “mushy” plots about love and betrayal mixed in with over-dramatic acting and cheesy instrumental music.

One can imagine my initial reactions when trying to choose a telenovela for this class. For me, that meant both annoyance and panic along the lines of: Oh, no!  I don’t watch telenovelas. AAAHHH!!!

Needless to say, my view towards telenovelas has changed slightly: thanks, in part, to the new Primetime Telemundo program Bajo el mismo cielo (Under the Same Sun). After watching several episodes on, this telenovela has left me surprised because of its complex typology. In many respects, the show overall has exceeded my expectations.

Here are some aspects of the show that have especially caught my attention:


The first thing that intrigues me about Bajo el mismo ciello is its “Intrada” (Title sequence). Aside from introducing the cast from the show, I am particularly struck by its theme song. I had anticipated something close to a sad, sappy 1980s love ballad (electric guitars and all). Instead, I heard a theme song that sounded happy: none other than… La Bamba??? It turns out that this theme song/”cover” song matches because Bajo el mismo cielo concentrates on legal and illegal Mexican immigrants adapting to life in Los Angeles.

-Country of Origin and Language

Based on the premise described above and the dialect used in the show, I had initially believed Bajo el mismo cielo to be from Mexico. After further research, however, I had found that this program is actually produced in the United States. It should also be noted that the actors in Bajo el mismo cielo use “vocabulario neutro,” which I had not noticed until the class discussions on “Telenovela Typology.” Despite the diversity of Latin American actors on the show, they all speak with predominantly “Mexican” accents: an aspect of the show that I find a little bizarre.

-Flexibility of Telenovela Categories

To me, what makes Bajo el mismo cielo compelling to watch stems from how it successfully combines different telenovela categories. I perceive the show mainly as a “De Ruptura” because of its serious tone and attention to realistic situations (e.g. illegal immigration, social injustices, etc.). At the same time, it also has moments of a “Telenovela Rosa”: particularly in scenes involving the protagonists Carlos Martínez (Gabriel Porras) and Felicia Méndez (Erika de la Rosa). Bajo el mismo cielo also works as a Contemporary telenovela, with elements of a Narconovela. One subplot in the first episode, for example, involves one character smuggling drugs from Mexico into the United States… only to meet a grisly fate:

Given this fusion of styles, I would say that this particular telenovela creates strong character development. While it is true that some characters are intentionally “good” (e.g., Carlos) or “bad” (e.g., members of the gang “La Colonia”), Bajo el mismo ciello does not lose sight of the “human” aspects of the show. After watching six episodes of this show, I am curious to know what will happen next as the telenovela progresses.

For someone who typically is not obsessed with telenovelas, that says a lot.


  1. Anthony,

    Yo no soy un fan de las telenovelas cursis tampoco. Disfruto viendo telenovelas con más acción y suspenso por lo que mantiene mi atención. Me pareció genial que la canción del tema es "Bamba", porque eso es una canción muy alegre y establece el tono para la telenovela. Lo que dijo acerca de los acentos mexicanos es también interesante. Ahora quiero ver "Bajo el Mismo Cielo" para que pueda escuchar tambien.

    -Stacy Spector

  2. I was not a fan of telenovelas before coming to this class either, but not on purpose. I had never really been exposed to novelas before because no one around me really watched them. I, like you, believed that they were just soap operas with over dramatic plots and silly close up shots to increase the drama even further. Upon studying these telenovelas further, I've realized the depth that they actually possess and I like your analysis of Bajo el Mismo Cielo based on how it combines aspects of different telenovelas. I agree that it could be considered a "de Ruptura" telenovela because of it's use of different novela characteristics instead of a traditional rosa. I was surprised by my telenovela's Intrada as well. It was very upbeat and not dramatic at all, as I was expecting.

  3. I too had limited to no exposure of the telenovela world before this class. What I knew was very much stereotypical the compared to my knowledge today. Telenovelas' influence on society is huge, from large companies like Telemundo, to the sub-themes and messages that are hidden within the complicated and intricate plots. Like Anthony, the Intrada stuck out to me because it different from what I was used to. I noticed that the credit sequence and theme song came about 20 minutes in and the beginning of the telenovela was used to recap previous episodes and get the viewer hooked on the present one. My telenovela was Señora Acero, and much like El Señor de los Cielos, it is about violence, drugs, and relationships. This is a popular theme in many new novels as an alternative to completely Rosa novelas. The characters are developed on multiple levels, such as love, family, and success in a dangerous industry.