Sunday, September 27, 2015

Web of Lies

I don't like the male protagonist of Relaciones Peligrosas. Mauricio is pretty and has a beautiful smile, but I disapprove of every action he takes. He hasn't said anything that was 100% true throughout the entire series. When he first came onto the screen, with his shining teeth and sparkling eyes, he looked directly at the protagonist and told a bold-faced lie about his age.

"I'm 21," said the 17-year old dreamer.

Luckily, I am enthralled by Miranda and her relationship with the teenaged liar she professes to love.

I know we talked in class about the love-hate relationship that viewers have with the dumb stud-of-a-male-protagonist, but I was still not ready. I was not ready to see this boy lie to every single other character in this show. I was not ready to see him fall entirely out of favor with his "one true love," as he calls Miranda. I was not ready to see him fail at every turn.

Relaciones Peligrosas made me think it would be different. They set Mauricio up as different from other protagonist hunks. Every other character singled him out as mature (Miranda, Theresa), hard-working (Sofía), and particularly intelligent (all of Mauricio's classmates). This may be true as far as classes, but when it comes to real life situations, Mauricio is just like the other beautiful male protagonists that came before him.

I don't like the male protagonist of Relaciones Peligrosas, but I know he will redeem himself. For now, these questionable actions serve a purpose. That is, Mauricio drives the plot.

At this point, Mauricio is so far lost in the web of lies that he has spun in the name of defending Miranda that the audience must now accept any of his actions. He is has gotten himself into such an unreasonable situation that he has zero reasonable courses of actions to take. Anything he does, anything he says, is now acceptable simply on the basis of survival.

Does it make sense for him to get into the business of dealing drugs? No, but he has to get the money to pay Oliver or Miranda dies.

Is it appropriate for him to pretend to date Yesenia in order to get money from her? No, but he has to get the money to pay Oliver or Miranda dies.

Is it in any way acceptable for him to beat Diego half to death in the parking lot? No, but he has to get the money to pay Oliver OR MIRANDA DIES.

Those examples may not make perfect sense out of context, but I hope they serve their purpose as examples of how absurd Mauricio's troubles have become.

Because it's a telenovela, however, Mauricio will be forgiven. The audience knows that Mauricio and Miranda will overcome all of these obstacles. Therefore, Mauricio can take actions that make the plot move forward.

The audience accepts that he makes mistakes and further complicates his relationship with Miranda. In fact, we relish these complications. Because it's just going to make the resolution that much better.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

a strong flower: Flor Salvaje

     I have finally settled on a telenovela that I wish to divulge in. I have chosen a Colombian telenovela- one that appears to have a more “Rosa” set up of the story line that surrounds a young woman who enters into a prostitute community to try to find a way to save her sisters.

     Flor Salvaje is a telenovela by Telemundo that aired from fall 2011 to early spring 2012. This telenovela has me hooked ever since the first dramatic scene of Amanda Montaverde’s brother being buried alive at the hands of a corrupt police department. As they drag the limp body of her brother out to the street where her ailing and wailing mother is, there becomes a chaos of crying and a crowd of people. Before I notice, her mother pours something over her own body and sets herself on fire.
Now, I knew telenovelas were dramatic, but my mouth literally stayed open for a minute as I saw what this indigenous woman did! Maybe this had ties with the mourning process of mestizo culture or of the indigenous sects in Latin America but to set yourself on flames because the thought of living without one of your offspring? Is this true love?…like when Anikan’s mother let him leave the slavery scorn planet of Tatooine in Star Wars Episode I? Or is this selfishness?...Like when Anikan acts on his selfishness to marry Padme and ends up putting her in danger when she comes with him on his mission to defeat the republic.

     Now, Monica Spear’s character, is distraught-obviously- but takes the initiative now, as the oldest, to provide for her sisters. I personally have an idea how it is to grow up without guidance or financial support, but these girls have been left on the street. There is a large population of children who live in the sewers of Colombia. They- orphans- live off of stealing and bartering and often get run out by the police or the upper class of big cities in Colombia. Seeing the way Amanda and her sisters walked around the streets looking for food reminded me of the current situation that my home country faces.
Though Amanda continues on later to fill the “princess” character in this story line, she exhibits and incredible amount of strength and is a source of stability and security for her sisters as she takes the initiatives to provide for them- even when it is to steal from a local prostitute in their community. She has to fill the mother-like position while looking for somewhere to sleep in the streets and eventually gets to convince that same prostitute to take her and her sisters in.

     In another turn of events, their mother figure ends up dying in the middle of the night and the girls are once again left as orphans! So Amanda again takes the initiative and moves on with her sisters. She does not even think to give up or to go get help. Whether or not it was due to her father out casting her and her sisters and the pain from that or her perceived stubbornness- Amanda is a strong and fierce female character that exemplifies characteristics in what a strong female role Is in my mind.
When I would watch any show, I would always identify with the strong female characters and learn their stories and the lessons they would teach through their acting and through the personification of their character’s experiences. But I am surprised that I am excited to watch a story line where the love story surrounds the act of selling and action that is what I consider the epitome of love! The fact that she has to be a prostitute- or that she chooses to become one in this love story- has made me really adjust my sensors and my thresholds for how love is to be expressed, especially in this story line. 

Jorgito: My Man

The more I watch Avenida Brasil, the angrier I get about Jorgito’s character… Now, this blog post will be more about my expectations of a male protagonist over what the female protagonist should act/look/be like.

Jorgito fits the bill of a hunky perfect protagonist in every aspect: He has the most incredible smile, he is a talented actor, and he has steamy chemistry with Nina. BUT: what do I not like? I don’t like the character the writers made him out to be. Although I am still watching and have not seen the dynamic change in the characters quite yet, all I see thus far is what looks like a twenty-something-year-old, doing nothing with his life. He drinks, he parties, he SOMEHOW has a girlfriend, he hates his mom (and lets her know it in front of everyone at a party, and he also reminds her of this all the time) and he simply acts like a little kid!

Now, I don’t know if anyone else can agree with me, but no matter how hot he is, there needs to be more to a man than just good looks. He needs to be passionate, driven, ambitious! The male protagonists in telenovelas are usually rich and dumb for believing everything people tell them. How is this not frustrating for everyone?! When it comes to Jorgito, he still depends on his parents and is even a below par soccer player on a small team somewhere: knowing he grew up in the home of the star soccer player in Brazil.

So far this is driving me CRAZY! I understand he is “lost” and trying to figure out his life, and his mom-issues, and everything… and I also understand how extremely critical I am being! But all I keep thinking when he throws his hissy fits is “COME ON!!! GET IT TOGETHER JORGITO!!!” I am just ready to see him get his life together, not drink anymore, figure out exactly what he wants, and go get Nina!

I say all these things in frustration because I feel like Jorgito had all these incredible opportunities from his transformation as “Batata” to “Jorgito” and he threw them away. Although riches and fame PALE in comparison to a true family love, values and morals, I get so angry seeing him do nothing and throwing his life away. I wonder if anyone in Brazil, or worldwide, watching this novela ever felt the same way; not everyone gets those chances to leave their difficult lives the way he did. To me, Batata/Jorgito represents the struggle so many people face and the rare opportunity Batata got… viewers (those living in poverty) of this telenovela must have been so angry that their only representation ended up doing nothing with his life!

Anyway, although this blog post was critical of the character Jorgito was made out to be (so far!!!), I must admit it does NOTHING to stop me from watching and LOVING him and fawning over him every time the camera is on him. I completely fall under the “fan-girl” * sigh * moments that any women feels when they are watching a telenovela!

From what we have covered in class, I see how the “representation and identity” of the male protagonist in this case, has NO EFFECT on my “consumption” as a viewer. I am literally dying to watch each episode. Honestly, the importance of a good-looking cast is huge, but on top of that Cauã Reymond is hot AND talented! No wonder Avenida Brasil did so well!!

Also, when looking up pictures of Cauã, I came across these, and I don’t know if they are COMPLETELY inappropriate! But I’ll take the risk to share with you all his hotness: 

La cinematografía va perfecta con la drama

Yo empecé a ver la telenovela Caminho das Indias unos anos atrás, pero nunca acaba porque no tenia el tiempo. Ahora no tengo escusa, la tengo que ver por mi tarea (o eso es que le digo a mi mama..)! Me encanta que ahora pero continuar.
Cuando empecé antes, yo no sabia que la telenovela gano el Emmy internacional de mejor telenovela por 2009. Ahora que se, definitivamente puedo ver porque lo gano!

Aunque no ha tenido mucho tiempo por sentarme a ver todos los capítulos de la novela que yo ha querido ver, ha punido mucho atención en la producción de la novela. Yo se que vamos hablar de producción mas tarde en la clase, pero para mi, las escenas, la cinematografía y la producción ganan mucho de mi atención a primera vista.

La cinematografía atrajo mi ojo cuando oí que la novela fue filmado en Brasil con la influencia de India. India es una país que me inspira mucha con su arquitectura, y poniendo eso con la belleza de Brasil era mi ultimo sueno.

Lo que me fascina en esta novela son las escenas de transición. La natura real, los edificios y los diseños de las casas me hacen querer ser en la vida de la telenovela- menos la drama.

El mercado en que Maya and Bahuan se encuentren es una de mis lugares favoritas en la novela. Al mejor el mercado me hace pensar de los mercados que mis padres me llevaron cuando visitamos a México, pero es claro que este mercado es una plaza social para mucha de la vida en India.

Con la drama entre las familias en la historia, espero continuar a admirar la cinema en esta novela! 

The Beauty Code in Telenovelas

The other day in class when we were talking about "Cuidad Bendita" and breaking the codes in a telenovela love story, I was sort of shocked to hear about the ways fans reacted to Roque Valero being chosen as the male protagonist. Viewers said he wasn't handsome enough and didn't fit their vision of who should be in the role. Additionally, when the female protagonist with her limp wasn't healed at the end, people were disappointed by that outcome, wanting her so-called "physical imperfection" to be fixed. It's interesting that in this case, the code was transgressed, and the audience ended up loving the leads' chemistry and relationship. However, this type of strong, initially negative reaction made me start thinking a lot about beauty as a component of cultural identity in a sense and why it's so significant in Latin American telenovelas.

Looking at it from a business standpoint, if consumers are ultimately determining ratings and stating their opinions freely about the novelas on air, then they are the ones dictating what is actually consumed. So, yes, the media must a play a part in the societal pressures and high standards of beauty, but producers and writers are actually just fulfilling the want of the viewers too. As we've discussed, telenovelas are a commercial product. They thrive off of their social acceptance and popularity. The fact that some of the elements of epic love stories are physical appearance, the male protagonist's smile, and the female protagonist's sad/nostalgic beauty further emphasize the beauty code as a characterized prerequisite.

While researching online, specifically within Venezuela, I found that historically this may stem from marianismo, "the expected female behavior to be 'woman-mother-wife,'--emulating the Virgin Mary" (Roche 75). In her article, "Venezuelan Femininity The Painful Embodiment of Beauty", Michelle Roche says, "[...] because by trying to become beautiful, women are distracted from the most pressing gender and political issues in the country, thus perpetuating the idea that women's role is to be men's 'women-mother-wives' (marianismo)" (Roche 77). She went on to say that even women in the work place are not exempt from this obsession; women are expected to do everything and look good while doing it. Roche references too the influence of American democracy on the beauty code: "What Venezolanas imitated was the American looks they saw in television. In fact, television's introduction in the country in 1958 was the most powerful device in perpetuating the Venezuelan beauty myth" (Roche 76).

Roche believes the "beauty myth" in Venezuela is most visible through four factors: "first, the cultural obsession with the Miss Venezuela competition; second, female spending on personal care; third, the importance given to fashion; and finally, the high percentage of women that have had aesthetic surgery" (Roche 67). These are all things we've mentioned in class.

The beauty code in telenovelas seems to be a more complex issue than one might assume, driven by deep historical, societal, and political undercurrents. As we continue through the course, I hope to learn more about the psychology behind this code and its practical implications for viewers of the telenovela genre.

Roche, Michelle. "Venezuelan Femininity The Painful Embodiment of Beauty." Anamesa The Culture Issue (2007): 63-80. New York University. Web. 24 Sept. 2015. <>.

Hey Pablo, This One's For the Ladies

In Pablo Escobar, there is an immediate and definite break from the rosa style of telenovelas, but poor Paty still plays the fool –– for a time.

Initially, she is a sweet and innocent young girl, roped into to marrying Pablo young due to pressure from her family. While they disapprove of Pablo –– especially her older brother –– their rigid traditional values influence them to tell her that if she's going to run around with a boy, she should be married to him. 

As soon as they are married, Paty asks Pablo if he will be faithful to her forever; he of course agrees. This is a blatant foreshadowing. Not long after, Pablo is back with the prostitute and later, many, many different women. 

At first, one might think this is the same old trope: jealousy, perceived or real infidelity, misunderstandings, broken relationships. However, I think the writers are intentionally playing with representations of gender and what is accepted societally. 

Pablo has jealous rage for Paty and acts on that rage. Paty tries to be a bit more cunning, a bit more witty. She knows when he is lying and pushes past acceptance of his behavior. Perhaps the most shocking moment for me in this show was not when Pablo suffocated and killed a man, but when Paty asks her mother-in-law for advice and her response is to laugh at her and tell her that she should do nothing, because "all men are unfaithful".
But paty doesn't heed her advice; she sneaks around and arranges a meeting with who she thinks Pablo is cheating with by lying and saying it is a job interview for her.

While her efforts are without reward, she continues to try to balance between being a good wife and sticking up for herself. Despite her best efforts so far, Pablo has used (what he thinks is) charm to avoid her attempts to confront him –– about other women, about his business, about always being away.

I think the contrast between Paty and her mother in law are an attempt to cause the viewer to question how women are treated and represented in real society. She represents a struggle many women face –– being strong and assertive yet struggling in a –– typically –– male-dominated society.

The deeper I get into this telenovela, the more I will be able to see how the writers play with Paty's role.

Will they allow her to have a voice, or will Pablo continue to squelch her?

In either case, it will provide an interesting commentary on the role of women and the representation of women in society, ranging from old traditionalism to new modernist ideals.

Primeros pensamientos de Aurora: El atractivo de la telenovela rosa

¿Por qué amamos tanto la historia dramática de amor? ¿Es factor de sueños irrealista que queremos tener todavía? Como sociedad, no queremos admitir a la ingenuidad en los pensamientos del amor. Somos, al público, completamente realista, objetivo y un poquito cínico cuando discutimos el amor. Sin embargo, en lo que soñamos y lo que queremos, somos romanticismos. Somos inclinados a invertirnos completamente en la historia del amor y el deseo para el final feliz.

La telenovela rosa puede aumentar nuestro amor por el amor. Generalmente, la chica es bella, pero no distinta o exótica: ella es alguien quien se puede ver como normal o realística. Es alguien quien se puede imaginar cómo su amiga, y así podemos poner nuestra mismo en la historia. El hombre es hermosísimo, encantado y el sueño perfecto. La trama es dramática, pero no imposible; todavía podemos creer en lo que está pasando e invertirnos en el amor.

Sin embargo, la fundación de la telenovela no es rosa. Aurora era congelada después de tener una hija y regresa de la muerte como si nada cambió. Parece que la telenovela con elementos de ciencia ficción necesita un comienzo completamente rosa para ser aceptada como telenovela. En Aurora, es exactamente así. Ella tiene amor a la primera vista, hay una amiga celosa quien crea problemas, hay el conflicto de clase socioeconómica, todo está para tener la telenovela rosa típica. El giro de la trama es el hecho de que Aurora era congelada y revivida 20 años después, sin envejecer. Sin embargo, eso no es el foco de la trama: la trama gira sobre el romance entre Aurora y Lorenzo, su amor del pasado.  Creo que esta telenovela, aunque parece que puede ser de ruptura, mantiene los elementos de la telenovela rosa. Quizás va a añadir los factores más de rupturas con el desarrollo de la trama. 

The American Dream in Las Telenovelas

Watching the telenovela Juana La Virgen has been truly fascinating. As an American with few ties to Latin American or Hispanic culture outside of my studies, I am intrigued by all of the various topics and social issues that telenovelas contain. One of the most interesting themes that have been brought up is the concept of the American dream. 

In context, Juana's grandmother tries to explain to her that when she studies at a university in Los Angeles the following year, everything will change. Juana will fall in love with the city and the American life, and never want to leave. Her grandmother warns her that people's destinies are set right when they come out of their mother's womb - their family, country of origin, social class, and other parts of life are assigned to them. They are unchangeable, she says.

However, Juana is not deterred from her dream of attending the university and exploring "Los Estados Unidos." Despite her grandmother's negative energy and pessimism, Juana keeps the faith. Although this is just a small example of how foreigners view America, it said a lot about how important the American dream can be for those who have no other hope. For me, the conversations in the telenovela remind me how lucky I am. Not only do I live well here in the U.S., but I also have the ability to do so without leaving a family and another life behind. 

Going to America and seeing how different life is there may be difficult for Juana, but I am on her side; she deserves the right to dream. If she believes in herself, she can do whatever she puts her mind to. Watching these scenes evokes a sense of awe over America, and I hope that our country can live up to these high expectations. 

Social Commentary of Las Aparicios

As we have learned, telenovelas service a much greater purpose than just giving us an epic love story to follow.

As we know the best example of a telenovela making a social commentary is Leonardo Padron's Cosita Rica. The writer was able to comment on the political and social climate of the entire nation through the characters of Cosita Rica; from Patria Mia to Olegario. Olegario was written to directly imitate Hugo Chavez. Although never specifically said Olegario did a lot of the things Chavez liked to do. This satirical character based on the president settled well with some while others refused to believe that Olegario was Chavez.

Either way, Padron was able to get to the Venezuelan people through the use of his characters. What I have noticed as I watch more and more of Las Aparicios is that the women take on roles that serve to comment on a social issue. For example, Mercedes, the most recent sister to become a widow, has decided to take on a transgendered client even if that means she could loose everything. The way that the writer wrote it to show that transgenders have to go through a lot just to have a family, and through what Mercedes says is her reason behind helping her client despite the threat of loosing everything is that "Everyone deserves to have a family," Through this character we are able to see the stereotypes and also to see those stereotypes broken. In one scene, the transgender's wife comes to see Mercedes because she doesn't want her to be around her son because she might sexual abuse the child to which Mercedes responds that "Most sexual abuses are not committed by homosexuals and transgender people but by ordinary people". The writes wrote in such an exhausted notion of transgendered people being sexual deviants because society still views them in that light.

As I watch more and more of this telenovela I see more and more as a satirical novela. Sometimes the women are completely independent and sometimes they are made to rely on the help of a man, but I think that this is satirical because in the end the women really do not need a mans help. Another thing that I found interesting is how sexually liberal all the women are, except for the teenage daughter Isadora who wants to go back to "traditional" values. Isadora is mocked by the women in her family because she wants 'tradition'. I think this is a commentary as how there really aren't anymore 'traditonal' values anymore, especially among younger people in this day and age.

Another thing that always makes me laugh is that the novela centers on the power that a women can yield and that the Aparicios "no necesitan de hombres pero los tienen porque pueden" and girl power here and girl power everywhere etc etc etc. The opening credits juxapose that because they are a "Guide to the perfect wife: 11 rules to keep your husband happy" below is the opening credits and I think it is a smart choice because these were probably what would have been put in a 50s good house wife magazine.

Mis pensamientos en lo que va ...La Reina Del Sur

 He visto mucho episodios de La Reina Del Sur. 

Oh mis dios 

Es muy difícil mantenerse al día con todo el drama y los problemas de Teresa Mendoza. Realmente es una combinación de eventos extravagantes que jamás sucederían y sin embargo ... Yo entiendo completamente cada evento. Cada persona que muere es necesario morir para mantener la historia en marcha, y por lo general, a mantener los problemas de Teresa alrededor.

El papel de los obstáculos en una telenovela es tortuoso y completamente necesario. Nadie sería capaz de seguir viendo si Teresa se había introducido como la esposa feliz del Guero al principio. Lamentablemente, no hay suficientes interés en una vida perfecta. Todo el mundo quiere angustia y experiencias cercanas a la muerte. Todos los espectadores quieren una oportunidad para escapar y no ver las cosas que ven en sus vidas aburridas. Este es un aspecto clave sobre el consumo de telenovelas, y personalmente estoy muy enganchado.

Ya estoy invertido en ver Teresa Santiago. Y por supuesto estoy orando a Dios para que Santiago no se inicia su negocio de tráfico de drogas a causa de la promesa que hizo a su difunta madre. También tengo un lugar especial en mi corazón por el entrañable, leal Fátima y el destino de su hijo. Hay varios matices y los intercambios entre los personajes que componen la historia. Cada personaje seeminly menor desempeña un papel fundamental en la telenovela.

No puedo esperar para continuar viendo a mi telenovla y descubrir más sobre el mundo peligroso y glamoroso de La Reina Del Sur.

Ahora miro más La Reina Del Sur. 

How Women are Represented in Señora Acero

The culture throughout Latin America is one filled with rich history and depth. Two terms that come from this culture, however, are “machismo” and “marianismo.” Machismo is the way of thinking, so seamlessly imbedded in Latin American culture, that men should be prideful, tough, strong, and are not limited in their sexual relationships. The immense influence of machismo is complemented by marianismo, which is the overarching idea that women should be pure, loyal, and nurturing while tending to the home and family. The women in Señora Acero are representative of more than marianismo, they have jobs, influence, and they fight for what they want; this telenovela compares and contrasts the extremes that some women have to go to in order to succeed and provide for themselves in life.
            Sara and her sisters, Berta and Josefina, although biologically related, could not be more different. Sara is forced by the death of her husband and his crimes into a life of self-reliance, in which she learns to protect herself and provide for her son. She makes her place in the world by being proactive and using her intelligence to outsmart her enemies. Sara keeps her traditional role as her son’s caretaker in addition to working and protecting who and what she cares about. Berta, although married, is anything but a caretaker. She is manipulative and cunning, only wanting success and power and the destruction of her sister, Sara. Josefina represents the traditional marianismo role of women in the telenovela. As of episode 17, Josefina is the woman who is docile, quiet, and not particularly intelligent. Her own husband and Berta easily manipulate Josefina; her lack of confidence and integrity illustrates how many marianismo women are viewed as weak. Through these three sisters, the audience is exposed to an interesting mixture of personalities and lifestyles: the survivor and mother, the power-hungry and ruthless widow, and the timid housewife.
Mariana, Sara’s sister-in-law, also represents a power-hungry and unscrupulous woman in Señora Acero. Both Mariana and Berta reinforce a stereotype that powerful women are inherently cruel and callous. Before her death, Mariana uses her sexuality and pregnancy to manipulate those around her. Though she is not present through the entire telenovela, Mariana is an example of a woman not concerned with family life, but is motivated by her love of money and power.
            The working women in Señora Acero are depicted in the beauty industry. Enriqueta Sabido is the owner of a beauty salon and is backdoor plastic surgeon. She also reinforces the stereotype that powerful, intelligent women, even a business owner, are manipulative and severe. She contrasts women like Mariana and Berta in that she is of a lower socioeconomic class, but compares to them in her cunningness and cruelty.
            Aracely, Miriam, and Lupita, Enriqueta’s employees, also represent women of a lower socioeconomic status who have jobs to support themselves. It does seem somewhat marianismo that they are some of the only employed women in the telenovela, but have not entirely escaped the standard of women in that they work as hairdressers in the beauty industry. All three women are beautiful, but differ in that Aracely represents a liberated woman, Miriam is an example of a woman trapped in an abusive relationship, and Lupita is a servant of the unattainable beauty standards in Latin America.

            Throughout Señora Acero, it is evident that there is more than one stereotype of women in Latin America. In addition to marianismo and the stereotypes that result, the opposite is the expectation that women cannot be powerful and kind. I expect that through the rest of this telenovela, the protagonist, Sara, will break both of these molds and become an example of a loving mother with powerful influence in the community.

The Treatment of Alcoholism in La Usurpadora

When our usurpadora, Paulina-as-Paola, arrives at the Bracho household in one of my telenovela's first episodes, she realizes that the actual Paola has left her a lot of messes to clean up. Extramarital affairs, maligned family and friends, and disrespected household workers all lie in her wake. But one of the most pressing issues -- and one of the few real, serious issues the show has tackled -- is Grandma Piedad's alcoholism.

During her time as la Señora Bracho, Paola has indulged her husband's grandmother with bottle upon bottle of cognac (on Carlos Daniel's dime). For Grandma Piedad, the liquor serves as an escape from the pain of losing her husband and her son, from which she never really recovered. And for Paola, it serves as an escape from Grandma Piedad's tears and cries of grief -- in other words, nothing but a matter of convenience.

According to the World Health Organization, Mexicans consume alcohol at the highest rate in North America. Alcoholism is a growing problem that thousands upon thousands of people encounter every year, whether personally or by way of a family member or friend. Paola's rash treatment of the issue isn't in itself a problem; on the contrary, it fits the character of someone who only cares for herself. On the other hand, the way the show itself handles the issue has me a little more conflicted.

One of Paulina's first orders of business as Paola Bracho is to wean Grandma Piedad off the alcohol, not by banning it completely (as Estefania and the rest of the household has attempted to do) but by giving her gradually less until she is no longer reliant upon it. In no time, it seems, Grandma Piedad is completely transformed back to her old self: strong, self-reliant, even a little bit bossy. She dresses herself and sees her great-grandchildren again. She hassles the family cook about using canned sauce to prepare their lunch, swearing that she has a better recipe. And she reclaims her position as head of the household and of the Brachos' factory. Gone is the woman who would lie in bed and yell all day long for Paola and "mi medicina," and in her place is the real Piedad Bracho.

After discussing in class the positive social effect that telenovelas can have -- for instance, after a character on La Mujer Perfecta was diagnosed with breast cancer, more women went to get mammograms -- I began to really consider whether La Usurpadora's treatment of alcoholism might have inspired any similar positive change in Mexico. Even more critically, was the issue treated as respectfully as its seriousness merits?

I've given the matter a good bit of thought, and still I'm ambivalent. On one hand, I really like the fact that Grandma Piedad's cognac has the power on the show to turn her into a completely different person because that really can and does happen to even the strongest of people. And on a similar note, it was really great to see a woman introduced to the audience as old and frail take charge of her situation and recover and become her old self again. I think in this way her character really challenges some of the gender roles otherwise established in the show through Paola's rather one-sided treatment as the evil vixen or Estefania's role as the bitter, slighted housewife.

At the same time, Grandma Piedad recovers so quickly -- within two episodes or so of Paulina's magic treatment, she's out of bed and moving around, and these days hardly a mention, if any, is made of her cognac -- that I can't help but wonder if the whole thing was over too quickly for any message to get across. Alcoholism can haunt families for years, and while Paulina spent some time taking care of her sick mother, she hardly qualifies as a doctor. In fact, she appears to have a better cure for the disease than the doctor the family had been using. And thus far in Grandma Piedad's recovery process, I can think of only a few instances in which the issues that initially drove her to drink have been brought up. I feel like this storyline had the potential for so much more depth than the writers gave it, and when these writers have such a huge audience to send a message to, that's a little disappointing.

What’s the rule of the game anyway?

I must confess I’m already hooked on A Regra do Jogo. Unfortunately, I only have time to see it on the weekends which makes it very difficult to control my anxiety when I see my friends posting things related to the episodes on social media.

(My friends talking about the attractive actors in A Regra do Jogo)

My favorite thing about Carneiro’s tale is the way he structured it to be a kind of thriller/ crime story, and that his characters aren’t either good nor evil.  
We just know that in his stories there are no boundaries between right and wrong, or between good and evil (which makes them be a success!).
In the very first episode of A Regra do Jogo the protagonist  Romero Romulo was first introduced  as a human rights activist and,  in the same episode, Carneiro showed that such hero was nothing but a bandit, a wolf in sheep's clothing, as the saying goes. I was in shock – This writer  is a genius, I thought.  (more details here).

This particular way of shaping the characters really caught my attention. At this point I am so in love with Romero that I can't even decide if I hate him or not. In fact, the author makes us feel sorry for all the difficulties the poor guy had to face in life, including his mom hating and abandoning him, and tricks us to forgive Romeros's bad actions which may be a product of his sad past… Just like in Avenida Brasil, the writer simply deconstructs the good and evil binary.

Other day I heard the real antagonist will appear soon, and he will be a closeted gay man who will try to destroy Romero. In fact, he is already on the screen, but very well disguised (Globo fears another rejection from the conservative/homophobic audience).
This guy is Orlando,. He has double life: he is successful businessman, but also is one of the directors of a criminal gang. This duplicity will also happens in his intimate life: Even tough is appears to be straight, he soon will be seen with a younger male lover, whom he supports with money earned in banditry.
To keep up appearances, Orlando will get married to Nelita, the daughter of a millionaire who suffers from multiple personality disorder. The plot of Orlando makes me remember other popular gay character, Felix , the big villain of Amor `a Vida. However, the type played by Eduardo Moscovis is more dangerous: he has killed and shown to be capable of anything on behalf of his ambition.
Thinking about gay characters in Brazilian novelas makes me think of what we studied recently. For that reason I hope Orlando is as interesting as Félix, my favorite gay character ever done in Brazilian TV. He is this evil gay antagonist who tried to kill his sister several times, gave his nephew for adoption, got married just to fool his parents, and even hated his son. Bad, bad guy. However, at the end, most people loved him more than the main lead. He even had a happy ending and the first gay kiss ever broadcast by Globo tv (look how happy the audience was with this kiss. :D ).

Most homosexuals portrayed before him were extremely flamboyant ones,  usually the comic relief for the telenovela. Anyway, the ones which caught my eye were the ones which raised awareness to their cause. There was once, in Senhora do Destino, this lesbian couple which wanted to adopt a baby. And the sad moments of  Miss Pirangi in telenovela de epoca Gabriela just breaks my heart. Once he was walking on the street and people started throwing stones at him. One may think: "Ok I get it, it was not easy to be gay in rural Brazil back in 1930's". But similar things still are in our every day news.
Brazil still has a long way to go regarding this LGBT issues, but telenovelas for sure have done an important social duty when raising the subject.