Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Telenovela: A Genre for Any Medium

Dr. A mentioned the changing media environment, and since our course has drawn to a close, I think I might as well look to the future.

When I came home from class today, my roommate, Rachel, was watching something on her laptop, and I pulled up a chair next to her at the kitchen table. It was a program I'd never heard of, and I asked, "What TV show is that?"

She said, "It's not a TV show, it's a web series."

When Rachel first said "web series," I thought she meant that it was a youtube show or something. You know, a home-made thing that someone uploaded, probably like 15 "webisodes" released in 7-minute segments. But in fact, it was a full-blown production, not unlike Orange is the New Black from Netflix or Transparent from Amazon Prime (Amazon Prime! Who would have thought my favorite e-commerce site would branch out into "television" production.)

It wasn't a big deal, but the implications reveal that the world is changing. Is there any difference in content between a "web series" and a "t.v. show"? Not really. In fact, if you look up Rachel's program on wikipedia, it's listed as a "TV series" despite being created by Hulu and therefore never broadcast on a television network.

So I think what we're coming to is a complete media convergence. You can see it everywhere - Netflix wants you to pay to stream movies and "t.v. shows" on multiple devices. HBO, which used to be a television network, is now offering an online-only package with HBO Go. Apple gives you the iCloud so you can access your information on your phone, tablet, laptop, and desktop. Your watch, too, I guess.

We're coming to the point where we're not creating programs for any specific medium of transmission anymore. "TV shows" are going to be viewed on tiny phone screens. Websites are going to be sent through an HDMI cord and blown up on a flat screen

Content is created, and WE (as consumers) get to decide what medium to use with it.

So what does this mean for telenovelas? I mean, my telenovela was broadcast on Telemundo in the 10pm time slot, but I've never watched it in a TV. I watched almost every episode on my laptop, and a few on my phone. (Relaciones peligrosas, Netflix, go check it out!)

And what if EVERYONE starts watching them online?

I don't think too much is going to change as far as content goes. People don't watch telenovelas for the medium, they watch it them for the content. The drama. We will continue to watch that drama, whether it's a telenovela or a webnovela or any kind of 'novela.

Remember that the genre started on a different medium altogether! The first telenovelas were radionovelas! Did the jump from radio to television ruin anything? No, if anything, it made it better when they added a visual.

Maybe the switch from "telenovela" to "webnovela" could introduce something new to the genre, just like that original switch from radio to television. Webnovelas are already including some really cool stuff, like bringing the characters to life with interactive Twitter hashtags. I'm not worried at all for the future of the 'novela. I'm excited to see where it goes, and I'm glad I took this class so I know to be on the look out for it!


  1. I totally agree with you on not worrying about the future of the novela! I think if anything, telenovelas have always been consumed in a way much more akin to 'web series' than typical American TV shows that air one night a week for a season at a time. Telenovelas, as they air every single night, are much more like the way some "binge watch" Netflix or Hulu shows. I don't think telenovelas will lose anything by moving online––if anything, I think they'll grow.

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  3. That's so interesting that you incorporated the change from radio to television into the discussion of television to web. It's definitely important to note that changes in media have been made before and will continue to be made. I love the idea of a web-series as do many people due to the heightened convenience of being able to view episodes wherever you go. I'm anxious to see how the culture and production of telenovelas changes over the next decade or so as the introduction of the web-series is cemented into the consumer way of life.