I was born in Medellin, Colombia and immigrated to the United States when I was four years old. Although I was basically raised “here” (in America) you would never be able to tell a difference in my home. My parents raised me as Colombian as could be and that, in a way, included telenovelas. Although I was never forced to watch any, my mom was obsessed with them and would FORCE my dad to watch with her. It was actually quite comical- picture my mom desperately hanging on the character’s every word, feeling every emotion they feel, and crying ever tear they cry… while my dad is snoring away on the couch next to her. Don’t get me wrong, there’s been a few novelas I’ve seen him interested in, but for the most part his lack of enthusiasm never encouraged me to watch them either.
Fast forward to the first day of this class and I call my mom to tell her all about it- I could hardly get her off the phone with suggestions and chitchat of her excitement for me! I was excited as well after seeing all the different types of novelas I could be watching. I was always put off by them, thanks to my mom, since she used to ONLY watch “Rosa” style novelas… I remember walking into the kitchen in the middle of a scene where someone’s sister found out she’d been cheated on with her other sister, then a quick pan-in on the shocked eyes andddd GASP!!! I used to hate it and walk away rolling my eyes at my silly mom for liking those sort of crazy things. Nowadays her taste has evolved into more narco-novelas, action packed and Ruptura novelas (thankfully). This means if I would walk into the kitchen, sometimes I would be so intrigued by the police car chase or drug deal bust that I would end up staying and watching the rest of the episode with them!
Sadly, I look back on my younger days and think of how I prematurely judged the novelas (and my mom). Even Rosa-novelas have beauty in them. They encompass a true “Cinderella” type of story that we’ve learned about, or stories about love, romance, and adventure; basically they encompass everything we hope to have but realistically know we can’t. We live vicariously through them.
Anyway, for this class I’ve decided to watch “Avenida Brasil” and hope to share with you all my before and after thoughts from the first episode…
I chose this novela thanks to the previews shown in class. Actually, I am a member of DGK (Di Gamma Kappa), a broadcasting association here at UGA, and Dr. A was one of our speakers once! This is where I first found out about the Telenovelas and Culturas class and also the first time I heard about “Avenida Brasil”. I don’t know if Dr. A remembers, but she seemed so in love with “Avenida Brasil”. I think we saw a short trailer for it then too. I hate to say this, but I admit I have a HORRIBLE memory, so for me to remember (in some detail) the first time I met Dr. A and what we talked about, surprised me and meant a lot to me!
So watching the trailer in class again the first week or so, I DIED. I (genuinely) almost started crying sitting in my seat in class for the few-minutes-length of the video. I was physically at the edge of my seat… I think I became my mother too and gasped right on cue. All during the trailer! After that I just knew I had to watch this show! Actually, I did ask my parents for recommendations as well as my aunts and cousins in Colombia, and none said what I wanted to hear. Although I can’t say for sure, it seems to me as though most people are unwilling to watch novelas that stray too far from their home countries. We’ve learned in class that there was a time when the actors were only of their countries, but soon a few started breaking out. This includes my family- NONE have seen any Brazilian novelas: probably for the language barrier. (Too much work to read subtitles? I guess we’ll see!) Anyway, when I asked one of my cousins, she immediately said “Te voy a decir nombres de novelas mexicanas”… I was actually quite surprised and when I mentioned other ones, she had really never seen anything other than every traditional Mexican-Rosa novelas. So no matter who I asked I always came back to “Avenida Brasil”.
Well, let’s see how this goes!
Wow. This novela is EVERYTHING!! So incredible! It was everything I expected it to be! I knew I wanted a high production quality in the novela I watched and this was definitely very well produced; the filming and cinematography of it made me feel as though I was watching a big picture film. Adriana Esteves, who plays Carminha, is a fantastic actress. Wow. I hated her from the very beginning. The casting director did a very good job casting the characters because it just seems to “fit” Esteves really well to be the evil stepmother and gold digger.
Again, the production was very high quality. The way the set looks, the panning, shots, and angling of the camera, the final editing, and everything else is exactly what I thought it would be from what I briefly saw in the trailer. Before picking my novela for this class, I watched the first 15 minutes of a few different novelas including, La Reina Del Sur, Señora Acero, and Dueños Del Paraiso. Although they all were very intriguing and also great quality, it still was not what I wanted. I wanted a novela with good cinematography to begin with for this very reason- to be able to comment about it, and compare and contrast since most novelas don’t have such movie-like quality.
Nina (or Rita) is my favorite person ever. When you see her- that was me as a child! I remember being so stubborn and bold I told my dad I was moving out of the house at age four… I was a pretty ballsy kid, just like Rita. Thankfully I come from a very loving and united family, so I can only imagine a kid like that in an environment like Rita’s! That little girl did an incredible job portraying the rebellion at her age. There is one thing I do regret though, which is that I watched the episode with a Spanish voiceover. I’m not sure if I want to do that since it kind of bothers me when their mouths are not the same as what they’re saying, but I do think “Avenida Brasil” does a better job of it than most big picture movie dubs. Also, I think if I watched it in Portuguese with subtitles, I could learn a little Portuguese!
All in all, I’m already completely obsessed with this telenovela! It reached all my expectations and standards, and I’m excited to see the good and bad of this culture and country I have always DREAMED of seeing. I hope there is an episode somewhere throughout the series during their Carnival!