Monday, November 30, 2015

Telenovelas and Society and how it helped me connect with my mom.

Last post! What a semester it has been and what a range of information I have learned about telenovelas: typology, history, representation, consumption, production, regulation, globalization.

Growing up, and in a Hispanic household, telenovelas was always something that you could count to be on tv no matter the time.
One of the main reasons I was so excited to take this class was because I had never really thought of telenovelas as a academic subject. Going through this class I have learned immensely how wrong I was. Being Salvadorean, I'm saddened that my country isn't a big producer of original novelas, so I grew up mostly watching Mexican novelas
Some of the telenovelas I remember watching with my mother as a little girl were Camila, La Usurpadora,  Amigas y Rivales, and  most notably Mujer, Casos de la Vida Real. The last show Mujer, is a anthology novela, produced by Televisa which touched on many different issues such as domestic violence, rape, child abuse, LGBT discrmination, poverty. I remember my mother always having this on while she cooked lunch, it had a noon time slot, and with what I have learned about the strategic placement of telenovela time slot is that it was targeted for the mothers who tended the household. I never really questioned why my mother liked telenovelas so much, sometimes I even thought of them as being overdramatic,annoying even, because my mother acted like it was real life.
 But now I can see novelas from a different aspect and it brings me a different understanding of my mother. I know that telenovelas serve as a open avenue for anyone to find a little bit of themselves in a character or a situation. Having gone through the consumption presentations and then having the telenovela discussions I was able to have an open conversation with my mother about her love and connection to novelas. Over thanksgiving break I sat down with her and had a mini interview. I have translated and edited her responses below:

Me: What is it about telenovelas that you like so much?
Mom: I like the stories, they men are also very nice to look at. (Typology)
Me: Do you have a favorite novela?
Mom: No, I watch them mostly for entertainment, sometimes the repeat them and I'll watch them again because I like the stories. (Consumption)
Me: What about the stories do you like?
Mom: I like how there is always justice in the end...but I also like the struggle..novelas show the struggle of a women but at the same time show how strong a women can be,
Me: Do you connect with the women?
Mom; Sometimes, if they aren't snobby and stuck up and malas (spanish word for bad)
Me: Let me ask you about one novela Camila
Mom: It doesn't come one anymore
Me: I know but did you feel connected to any of the characters, or what most did you like about the telenovela
Mom: I really like the novela because of how strong Camila was on raising her child even without the help of a man, "una mujer no necesita de un hombre para crear un hijo" (Identity) [I would like to say that my mother raised a son by herself before she married my father]
Me: Do you remeber Mujers, Casos de la Vida Real?
Mom: Si! (she was very excited about this one)
Me: Although it didn't follow characters like a regular novela, I remember you always watching this show can you tell me why you liked it so much?
Mom: I though that the stories they told were very real, even if they weren't pleasant stories to tell, it gave voice to the women who suffer in silence.
Me: Do you have a story that you connected with the most?
Mom: The stories that I always was invested in the most were the domestic violence ones, not only are people able to see that this is a huge problem in the world but that women still find the strength to get out of a situation. I think if someone who is going through a similar situation, novelas can show them a possible way out.
Me: You know people write these stories they are acted out.
Mom: But based on true events, and I think that Silvia Pinal (host of the show) always made that clear.
Me: Do you think that telenovelas impact people in a bad or good way?
Mom: I think that they impact people in a positive way because they always show real people, real struggles, and if someone is in the same situation, it can help them by showing them that there is a solution, whether that be poverty, domestic violence, or just being a women. (Globalization)

Having gone through the class I could almost anticipate some of my mothers responses, and I have pointed out in red what topics I was able to see my mom address as the interview went on.
What I learned from telenovelas is that they impact everyone, not matter the social class, gender, or age. Telenovelas go with hispanics like el cafe goes with pan dulce,where we see one we see the other. Being part of the culture, it's hard to take a step back and look at how much they shape how we relate between one another and the world around us. They allow us glances into different lives and I think that that is the driving force behind the worldwide success of novelas, the human element.

I really enjoyed taking this class, it served as a bit of memory lane for me and going to the class always made me feel nostalgic for my mother and her novelas. Thank you Dr. A, being at UGA it isn't often that I feel like I'm at home again with my parents but this class provided that feeling for me even if it was only for an hour every Tuesday/Thursday, and I hope it did also to some of my other classmates.


  1. Dina, this class TOTALLY took me down memory lane as well!! Yipee☺ my history with telenovelas was that I HATED them! But much like you, I understood my mom more through them- actually my dad is no stranger to them either, haha! Anyway, I first want to say great blog! It was a fun format to read! Second, I was glad to see how much your mom loved the novelas covering really deep things like domestic violence and the strength of a woman. Being a woman who raised a kid by herself, like you said, I can see why she loves to see a strong female protagonist! GO HER!! But I was mainly happy because I was always bored of the silly “rosa” novelas that were cheesy and hopelessly romantinc (in a bad way)- or so I thought! I think along with giving us glances into different lives being the driving force being the success of the telenovela industry- I think it is also the choice. What I mean by the choice: I think there are SO many genres we have learned exist, so many different characters and plots and subplots- there is a story out there tailored to every person. I think novelas are so successful, because one woman can pick a story like Mujeres (like your mom) and still love it today! Whereas another woman (my cousin) will ONLY watch rosa novelas from Mexico (we are Colombian by the way, so it’s not like we don’t have options from our home country)! Anyway, I love this “choice” we get to find a telenovela that best suits our interest, as well as teaches something, rises emotions out of us, etc. I think this class did a great job of teaching us that and giving us our own choice as to which novela to watch this semester and I feel like it was almost a test to see how much you know about yourself or your ability to pick something good!!

  2. I love love love love the format and the honesty from your blog. I too was curious as what this class would present itself as to people who already have had contact with telenovelas. I think that one cool thing that you were able to point out was that these stories serve a purpose (among many) to help us connect with others that are different from us- whether it be that they differ because of culture, society, or anything else. I think the latin american and central/south american culture is one that supports sharing and celebration. We love to talk, hug, dance, socialize, laugh, and eat together. I believe that as a culture, we are very concerned with others' and we feel very connected with other humans. I think that telenovelas serve the purpose for facilitating the observation of something different from us! Maybe to form that connection with others that are not accessible to us. I think that once we are able to see what our "bubble" looks like, through the telenovelas, we can investigate then how the other "bubbles" are and how we can celebrate our brothers and sisters of other cultures' culture! Do you think you have been able to learn more about other hispanic "sub-cultures" throughout the class? For me I think I was able to learn more about the hispanic subcultures in Mexico and Brazil.

  3. As someone who grew up with absolutely no knowledge of telenovelas, this was so much fun to read. It's so cool that you were able to connect to your childhood this way and have someone in your own house to test out our new knowledge on. I also really like how you probed a little when you asked your mother these questions because as valid as it is to enjoy a show because there is always justice in the end, or because the characters are nice to look at or fun to watch (and as tired as I am of women especially having to defend what they like to do in their free time), I think this interview really shows how telenovelas are -- as Dr. A said -- inseparable from emotions. And it's really these emotions and these connections, both between viewers and with the characters and events, that make telenovelas so worth studying. What a great blog post to wrap up the semester!