Thursday, September 24, 2015

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. 


  1. I think it's interesting that you are watching a telenovela that is set in the United States. A lot of telenovelas talk about life in other countries and don't stray away from that. However, the one telenovela that you're watching puts America in the same light that Americans put America in-the best. Other telenovelas, like ones about Columbia and their drug problem, show their country in a bad light. Everyone, including Americans, have a strong love for America even if it isn't their country. I like how you discussed how Juana views America. I could be wrong, but I don't think many other telenovelas talk about America at all.

  2. I find it interesting how Juana's grandmother is distrustful of the U.S. while Juana is hopeful and eager to pursue the American dream. In my experience, the older generation is more willing to work for that dream; whereas, the youth are more disillusioned with the whole thing. An example is my grandfather. He immigrated here from the Philippines in the middle of the 20th century, and he feels he achieved the "American Dream." But a few of my cousins that still live in the Philippines have been waiting for a green card for many years, and they are kind of over the whole thing. They don't see moving to the U.S. as a solution to anything. I would be curious to investigate further to see if it's a generational thing, or if it is a cultural difference between the culture in the Philippines vs. in Latin America. Or...Juana la virgen is from 2002. I wonder if the U.S. has lost its "land of opportunity" title sometime within the past 15 years. Because that's certainly possible.

    In response to Taylor's comment: I can't speak for a telenovelas, since I've had no contact with the genre before this class, but Telemundo telenovelas definitely talk about the USA a lot...probably because they are mainly produced in Miami :)

  3. The portrayal of diverse cultures and countries represented in telenovelas is a thought-provoking topic. I agree that the US typically portrays other countries in a bad light, as less than valuable places to live. And many times, other countries show the US as an ideal place to live. The truth is that there are hardships anywhere and the "grass is always greener on the other side." What we should really take from these realizations is that it is so important to be informed and culturally aware, flee ignorance and celebrate diversity. The more knowledgeable we are and the more we get out of our own cultures and comfort zones, the more educated we will become