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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Sunday, February 12, 2006

ALBORADA: Or, "Why YOU Should Watch Telenovelas"

I was flipping through channels the other night, looking for something to watch during my workout, when suddenly I saw a familiar face. It was Fernando Colunga, a Mexican actor I hadn't seen since the last time I watched a telenovela…several years ago.

Fernando has changed. Fernando is hot. Fernando has long locks and has apparently discovered either a personal trainer or steriods. In the intervening years, he's also acquired a wrinkle between his eyebrows and I haven't, so I feel quite warmly disposed toward him.

Anyway, I had to watch whatever it was. It turned out to be the fabulous historical costume drama, Alborada (the word means "sunrise"). Only five minutes into it I was asking myself, "Why did I stop watching telenovelas?"

Alborada is an instant classic-- everyone is married to the wrong sister or brother, everyone is pregnant by the wrong man, the hero and the villain were switched at birth, the heroine is nobly born but illegitimate and was forced to work as a laundress in a whore house…and so on.

It's as if someone in the script department decided not to compromise on genres: "Should we do a cowboy theme or a historical theme? How about both? Should we have a secret baby plot or an amnesia plot or an estranged half sisters plot? Hell, make it all of the above!" In an outstanding grace note, the villain is a licentious pervert with a widow's peak enhanced by black eye pencil, who tries to imprison virtuous women in brothels and talks to his dinner guests through a pervy painted porcelain mask. What's pervy about a porcelain mask, you might ask? Just watch the show already.

Unfortunately, the villain was shrieking at his wicked mother when my husband (The Professor) walked in. I had totally stopped doing oblique crunches and lunges, and was splayed on the bed instead, with my jaw hanging open, trying to figure out who the villain's father was. The Professor looked at the screen with a half-smile on his face and asked me what I was watching. I tried to explain how "Alborada" is must-see TV, but he just gave a laugh and when the heroine came onscreen, he remarked, "Is that actress Lucero? She looks old." Then he left the room. No, he did not pat my head first.

So The Professor didn't get it, but I think you will, my blog-buddies. You'll know what I mean when I say that Alborada kicks the sorry ass of just about any American show I can think of. It's all about storytelling, and Alborada doesn't have just one story, it has more like twenty-five. You don't need to know Spanish, either.

Don't forget to watch for the porcelain mask. And the extra-pretty horsies. And the good-hearted prostitute. And the vile henchmen. And the dwarf.


At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Gin said...

I haven't run across a telenovela yet, but they sound like fun. I've been told I tend toward over-the-top in my writing, anyway, so it's obvious I'd feel right at home.

I did run across a Spanish-language version of a Sally Jesse Rafael type show recently, where several people were on stage, pointing fingers at each other and shouting over each other, while the SJR-type was interrupting occasionally to give them a lecture or ask a question.

I sort of had this feeling that if I watched for long enough, I'd be able to understand the gist of it, but in the few minutes I was watching, all I picked up was the host's interruptions of "one minute, please" (in Spanish, though).

At 12:40 PM, Blogger Diane Perkins said...

My husband often pauses at the Spanish TV channels, often the HBO movies dubbed in Spanish even though the English versions are playing at the same time. He understands a little. I don't but there definitely is something over the top in the Spanish TV shows! And the actors and actresses are beautiful!

At 12:58 PM, Blogger bridget said...

Diane, they *are* beautiful! But telenovela folks aren't afraid to give older women with actual wrinkles major roles, either.

Gin, if you watch the telenovelas instead of the talk shows you'll be able to deduce what's going on, usually, through the nonverbal language. Here's a cheat sheet: Man looms over pregnant woman and points at her belly accusingly-- he's her husband, but not the baby's father. Woman in virtuous clothing is dragged into a room full of guys with loosened neck cloths and giggly corseted girls on their laps-- she's being forced into a brothel. Guys with swords hack away at each other while a lady stands by and screams--they're duelling over her honor.

See? Easy! Also, if you want a plot recap in English, go to:


At 4:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

sounds hysterical, bridget. wish we got it in canada.

At 5:43 PM, Blogger Jennie Lucas said...

Bridget, this sounds awesome!! I'm a huge All My Children fan, and love well-done melodrama (it's harder than it looks, folks).

But one thing you never said: What channel is this show on?????

At 5:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I hope the show is as funny as what you wrote!
I always did find as I was flipping through channels that the telenovelas seemed to have some excitement going on that made me linger, whereas the American soaps were boring as all get out.
It's hard to believe they pack all that in there and a dwarf, too! It sounds better than a reality show!


At 5:56 PM, Blogger bridget said...

Jenna & everyone, I'm so sorry I went and left that out! It's on Univision. (NOT Telemundo). And it comes on every weekday night.

At 9:40 PM, Blogger Jennie Lucas said...

Thanks, Bridget! I'll definitely check it out!

At 2:25 PM, Blogger Prisakiss said...

Wow, it's been years since I've watched a telenovela, too. I remember rushing home in the evenings or calling my Abuela in Puerto Rico to find out what happened on the latest novela if I missed it.

I may just have to look up Alborada and tune in, for all the fun reasons you mentioned, as well as the more personal reason of pretending that my Abuela is sitting alongside me, enjoying the over-the-top acting and drama.

Thanks for the reminder!

At 8:20 AM, Blogger Tori Scott said...

Gee, Bridget. You even make watching TV sound like fun. :) I'll have to check one of those out.

At 8:47 AM, Blogger bridget said...

Pris, Tori--thanks for stopping by! Tell me what you think! They've started a new amnesia plot and the villain is going to duel with a godly man fresh out of the seminary, so it's getting even more interesting.

At 12:45 PM, Anonymous Gin again said...

Bridget is obviously ahead of the curve. I just read today, at Matt Roush's (TV GUIDE) on-line column that the networks are jumping on the telenovela bandwagon!

At 8:30 PM, Blogger Janice Lynn said...

Oh, I've never seen a telenovela. Of course, I watch very little television period so that might be why. Anyway, you definitely intrigue me & I'll have to check out the shows at my parents' house. :)

At 4:17 PM, Blogger bridget said...

Janice, thanks for stopping by! Yoo-hoo!

And Gin, thanks for the implication that I'm cutting-edge. There's also the distinct possibility that I was so far behind the curve, you mistook me for being ahead of the next one!

Adios, amigas!

At 3:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been watching Alborada off and on for a couple of weeks now. It is on every evening and it sometimes interfers with my ABC/NBC/CBS shows so I am now recording it to watch at a later time. Watching a novela is fun and the acting is much better than a soap. It is also nice to know that at some time there will be an ending (usually 6 mo) unlike these soaps that go on for years. I still can't believe the soap I watched over 10 years ago is still on. How sad!!! Can't they come up with something else!!! Although I am of Mexican heritage and my parents did give me a Mexican name, they did not teach me Spanish so I had to learn on my own by taking classes in school. Because I'm not fluent, I keep my Spanish/English dictionary closeby while I watch Alborada and learn as I go. The best way to learn a second language is by full immersion, but since you probably aren't about to pickup and move to any of the Latin countries, watching a novela is the next best thing. Enjoy!

Flor (Spanish for flower)

At 6:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found Alborada quite by accident while channel surfing a few weeks ago. I can't speak Spanish , but I teach ESL and thought one of my Spanish speaking students might be watching it. No luck. Then, I found a site that translates each episode into English. The woman who does it is a good writer--clever and witty. Now, I must try to buy the videos because I missed the first 3/4 of this telenovela.. Fernando Colunga is muy guaypo. Susanlynn


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