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A telenovela (/ˌtɛlənˈvɛlə/ or /ˌtɛlənəˈvɛlə/;[1] Spanish: [telenoˈβela], Portuguese: [telenoˈvɛlɐ]) is a limited-run serial dramatic programming popular in Latin American, Portuguese, Filipino, Spanish, and North American (Spanish language network) television programming. The word combines tele, short for televisión or televisão (Spanish and Portuguese words for television), and novela, a Spanish and Portuguese word for "novel".[2] Telenovelas are a distinct genre different from soap operas, for telenovelas have an ending and come to an end after a long run (generally less than one year). The telenovela combines drama with the 19th century feuilleton, and naturally evolved from the Latin American radionovela, as Blanca de Lizaur determined.[3] The medium has been used repeatedly by authorities to transmit sociocultural messages, by incorporating them into storylines,[4] which has decreased their credibility and audiences on the long run. Recent telenovelas have evolved in the structure of their plots and in the themes they address. Couples who kiss each other in the first minutes of the first episode sometimes stay together for many episodes before the scriptwriter splits them up. Moreover, previously taboo themes like urban violence, racism, and homosexuality now appear in the newest telenovelas. Due to the assumed similarities between the telenovela and the American soap opera, the telenovela format may be erroneously referred to as a "Spanish soap opera" in the United States. While most English language soap operas can continue indefinitely, almost all telenovelas run for a predetermined duration. They are usually shown five or six days a week and run for an average of 120 episodes.[5]


Telenovelas, which are sometimes called "tassels" or "comedias", are produced primarily in Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries and are usually shown during prime time. The first telenovelas were produced in Brazil, Cuba and Mexico: Sua vida me pertence ("Your Life Belongs to Me", Brazil, 1950) was shown twice a week, and Senderos de amor ("Paths of Love", Cuba, 1951) and Ángeles de la calle ("Angels of the Street", Mexico 1951) were shown once a week. Between 1957 and 1958 Mexico produced its first drama serial in the modern telenovela format of Monday to Friday slots, Senda prohibida ("Forbidden Path"), written by Fernanda Villeli.

The first global telenovela was Los ricos también lloran ("The Rich Also Cry", Mexico, 1979), which was exported to Russia, China, the United States and other countries. Currently, the best-known telenovelas come from Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Venezuela. In Spain they are also called culebrones ("long snakes") because of the convoluted plots.


Telenovelas tend to fall within these six categories:

  • Working-class melodrama, which is easy to understand and contains less explicit content. They typically feature a poor woman who falls in love with a rich man whose family spurns her, such as Maria la del barrio (1995).
  • Historical romance is set in the past, such as the colonial period (Martín Garatuza, 1986), the restoration of the Republic (El carruaje, 1972), the late 19th Century (El vuelo del águila, 1994) and the revolution (Bodas de odio, 1982)
  • Teen drama, which portrays the lives of high school teenagers and their issues with sex, drugs, and other coming-of-age topics. It started with Quinceañera in 1987.
  • Mystery/Thriller is more cold hearted than the other sub-genres. It may portray a mysterious death or disappearance, which may tear couples, even families apart, such as Cuna de Lobos, La Casa al Final de la Calle, La Mujer de Judas, ¿Dónde está Elisa? or El Rostro de la Venganza, La Casa de al Lado.
  • Romantic comedy, which portrays love stories with some or lots of comedy such as Las tontas no van al cielo or Yo soy Betty, la fea (the most successful soap opera in history).[6]
  • Pop band story portrays the lives of aspiring musicians such as in Alcanzar una estrella (1990) and its sequel Alcanzar una estrella II (1991), as well as Rebelde (2004), which spawned a multi-platinum pop group, RBD.

Telenovelas are widely popular in Latin America and Iberian countries such as, Brazil, Spain, Portugal, and in Hispanic speaking communities in the United States. They also have a huge following in Russia, Eastern Europe, France, Greece, Italy, the Philippines, Israel, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, China, and Japan.[7] In the Arab world, telenovelas are incredibly popular with families stopping their day from midday onward to watch these shows whose contents often reflect many of the moral and social questions faced in cultures like Morocco, Algeria, and Egypt.[8] The medium has been used repeatedly to transmit sociocultural messages by incorporating them into storylines.[9]

Major producers of telenovelas

In Argentina, telenovelas are usually produced by Telefe, Artear, Ideas del Sur and Pol-Ka; in Brazil, by TV Globo, TV Record, SBT, TV Bandeirantes, or the extinct Rede Manchete and TV Tupi; in Chile by TVN and Canal 13; in Colombia by Caracol TV, RTI Colombia, or RCN TV; in Venezuela by Venevisión or RCTV; in Spain by Telecinco, Antena3, EiTB (in Basque), or TV3 (in Catalan); in Portugal by RTP, TVI, or SIC; and in Puerto Rico by WAPA-TV or WKAQ-TV. In the United States, Telemundo and Univision, mostly importers of Latin American telenovelas, have started producing telenovelas with Latin American casts and casts of American stars of Hispanic descent and, in the case of Telemundo, Mexican producer Argos Comunicación and Colombian producer RTI, and, in the case of Univision, Televisa and Venevisión (being the owners of Univision).

Telenovelas by country


See: Telefe, Canal 9, Artear, Ideas del Sur, and Pol-Ka

Argentina's telenovelas focus on melodramatic twists of traditional middle class life, with touches of comedy. Telenovelas are broadcast by the main television networks, Artear and Telefe. Many popular "youth telenovelas", aimed primarily at children and teenagers, are produced in Argentina. Several youth telenovelas have become hits in other countries, where they have been remade or shown in their original Argentine versions. Some well known youth telenovelas are Chiquititas ("Little Angels"), Rebelde Way ("Rebel's Way"), Floricienta, Muñeca Brava ("Brave Doll") and Patito Feo ("Ugly Duckling"). Because Argentinian television broadcasts many American- or European-style situation comedies and dramedies, the telenovela is less pervasive in Argentina than in many other Latin American countries.


See Red ATB, Bolivisión, Unitel Bolivia, Safipro and TeleArte.

In Bolivia, telenovelas contain drama, love, music, natural landscapes, remote situations and adventures, some are based on novels, historical and real facts. Some melodramas produced in Bolivia include Las Tres Perfectas Solteras, Indira, Tierra Adentro, La Virgen de las 7 calles, Luna de Locos and Tres de Nosotras . The country has made over 15 telenovelas so far, most of the productions take place in Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Most of the mania has been made into much of prosperity for much of the country. Not many telenovelas made in the country. The exhibition on the television networks is international productions (from Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and Mexico). The Bolivian telenovelas are produced by independent producers, many producers are more dedicated to the movies.


See: Rede Globo, Rede Record and Sistema Brasileiro de Televisão
See: Extinct companies - Rede Manchete, and Rede Tupi

Brazil's telenovelas (more often novelas) are both more realistic and apt to broach controversial subjects—many Brazilians can relate because of the telenovelas' realistic depiction of the middle class, working class and upper class. Brazilian productions are the most expensively produced in Latin America.[10] Escrava Isaura (1976) was a major hit in South America, the Eastern Bloc, Africa and China.[11] A teenage telenovela, Malhação ("Working Out") is one of the longest-running telenovelas in Brazil. Novelas usually last eight months at most in Brazil, but Malhação has been on the air since 1995; as such, it is commonly classified as an American-format soap opera instead.

Brazilian telenovelas often have convoluted subplots involving three or four different settings. Usually there is a rich setting, a poor setting and one or more settings in which the characters of both settings can interact. There is no black-and-white cut between good and evil characters, with the protagonists often displaying weaknesses like promiscuity, drinking, stupidity, excessive ambition, etc. and the antagonists showing features or motivations that attract sympathy, like abuses suffered in the past, family problems, poverty, etc. It is not uncommon for a villain to attract the sympathy of the public, or even to end well. In 2006, for instance, the evil Bia Falcão, played by Fernanda Montenegro in Belíssima (Pretty Beautiful) managed to escape a police siege and flee the country to France, where she resettled with a handsome boyfriend living on a secret bank account in Switzerland, which she had kept over the years. On the other hand, it is not uncommon for a hero to be relegated to a secondary role due to the actor's lack of charisma. Besides the convoluted plots, Brazilian telenovelas also approach sensitive social issues and try to present a bit of the country's actual culture, sometimes in an idealized way.

Another important difference with telenovelas from other countries is that Brazilian telenovelas rely much less on individual stars than other Latin American works. A Brazilian telenovela may have a permanent cast of more than 40 actors, of which some 7 or 8 are central. The chief reason for this is that telenovelas are not shot in advance (instead chapters are shot only fifteen days before being shown) so that they can respond to public reaction. Under this scheme, the eventual death or bad performance of the actor playing the main character may turn the production into a flop (which happened to 1982's Sol de Verão after the death of main star Jardel Filho).

Rede Globo is the main producer of telenovelas in Brazil. Its productions are split into three different categories, according to the airtime:

  • at 6PM (novela das seis), stories are romantic and family-oriented (like Cabocla or Sinhá Moça). No violence, sex or bad language (with a few exceptions) and plenty of historic and religious themes.
  • at 7PM (novela das sete) they broadcast comedy plots, filled with action, humour and romance (with a considerable amount of implicit sex). This is the schedule in which new writers are tested. Plots tend to be more experimental but themes are usually repetitive.
  • at 9PM (known as novela das oito, or 8PM soap, but never broadcast at 8PM, the earliest known time was 8:30PM) plots tend to be more formulaic, but a wider range of themes are explored (like Roque Santeiro, O Clone, Senhora do Destino, Caminho das Índias or Avenida Brasil). These productions include action, romantism and humour and usually last longer than the others. These are the productions with the highest ratings. These categories became widely adopted by most television companies in Brazil.


Main article: Téléroman
See Culture of Quebec, Television of Quebec, Television in Canada

In Canada, telenovelas are known as téléromans in French and are a part of the culture of the Francophone province of Quebec. Nearly all French-language TV stations carry téléromans. The first téléroman was La famille Plouffe ("The Plouffe Family"), which was broadcast on Radio-Canada in the 1950s.

The téléroman was created during the earliest days of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's television network, when the CBC was the only television network in Canada (as per the 1949 Massey Commission). Whereas theoretically the CBC's main English-language television network could broadcast English-language shows from American stations (and also was forced to compete with US TV networks), CBC's Radio-Canada network had to develop its own programmes for French-Canadian viewers. As a consequence, Francophone television in Canada developed differently from Anglophone television.

In 2003, the French-language public TV station of Ontario, TFO, began broadcasting the first Franco-Ontarian téléroman, Francoeur.


See: TVN, and Canal 13

Chilean telenovelas focus on both traditional drama and middle class life, with some touches of comedy. Often, they show life outside of the capital, like in TVN's Iorana (which took place on Easter Island). They are usually produced and broadcast by the Canal 13 and TVN channels, who launch their main telenovelas in March each year with a few days between them, which have led marketing to a "telenovela war" of sorts. Lately, other Chilean TV channels such as Mega and Chilevisión are joining the so-called telenovela war. Many of the most successful telenovels in Chile are set in a historical era such as Pampa Ilusión (1935), El Señor de la Querencia (1920), Los Pincheira (1918) and Adios al Septimo de Linea (War of the Pacific).


See: Caracol TV, RTI Colombia, and RCN TV

Colombian telenovelas such as Betty la fea ("Ugly Betty") often focus on comedy. However, some are in a more realistic vein, or are adaptations of novels.

The first Colombian telenovela was El 0597 está ocupado, produced in 1959 by the programadora Producciones PUNCH.[12] From then until the late 1990s arrival of private television, a variety of programadoras produced and aired their own telenovelas, such as those from Colombiana de Televisión, TeVecine, Cenpro Televisión (the producer of Perro amor, which was popular in the late 1990s).

Telenovelas produced by RTI Colombia and Telemundo are usually shown on Caracol, while Televideo and Fox Telecolombia produce some of RCN's telenovelas. Caracol and RCN also produce and broadcast their own shows. Currently, four or five Colombian telenovelas are usually broadcast from 6 PM until around 11 PM on those networks.

It is notable that many novelas designed and written by Colombians sell outside their country well, as a prime export. Then other countries "nationalize" them by creating novelas based on the same story, barely changing names, settings and, more often than not, mixing the cast with Colombian actors to respect ownership/property agreements and copyright laws. One fine example is Betty, la fea (adapted in the USA as Ugly Betty) in which the franchise for the storyline was translated and adapted by over 30 networks around the world.

Over the years a new style of novelas/series have been produced by Caracol and RCN dubbed "narco-novelas", including "El Cartel", "El Capo", and "Sin Senos No Ay Paraiso", which have been a great success in the American market with high ratings. These tend to focus on drug traffic and all that is related to it such as violence, mafiosos living luxurious hedonistic lives and women selling themselves to them in order to escape poverty.

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic has started to produce its own novelas thanks to Venevision International, Iguana Productions and Antena Latina Productions. The first Dominican telenovela, María José, oficios del hogar ("María José, Housewife"), was produced by Venevision and the TV station Color Visión, which formed the first Dominican telenovela company (now inactive), in 1986. Comedy-drama series such as Catalino el Dichoso and sequel En La Boca de los Tiburones were also considered telenovelas, during the early 1990s. The telenovela Tropico was made by Venevision International, Iguana Productions, and Antena Latina Productions, in 2007 with mostly Dominican actors and a few from Venezuela and Peru. It is being shown by Antena Latina 7 in the Dominican Republic and on Univision in United States. There are currently plans for more telenovelas made, filmed, and produced in the Dominican Republic.


See: Bavaria Film Studios, and Grundy UFA

In 2004 Germany started to produce its own telenovelas. All German telenovelas are melodramatic love stories. With the exception of Sturm der Liebe ("Storm of Love"), which is produced by Bavaria Film Studios, every German telenovela is produced by Grundy UFA. The most successful ones, Bianca - Wege zum Glück ("Bianca: Paths to Happiness"), Wege zum Glück ("Paths to Happiness"), Verliebt in Berlin ("In Love in Berlin/In Love with Berlin") and Sturm der Liebe, were also released in Italy, France and other European countries. Verliebt in Berlin was also shown in Canada. German television channels ARD, ZDF, Sat. 1 and ProSieben all include telenovelas in their programme schedules.


Indonesia has a similar format called Sinetron, which are essentially soap operas in miniseries format.

The word is a portmanteau of sine (short for cinema), and tron (from "electronic"). While most English-language soap operas can continue indefinitely, almost all Sinetron have a predetermined duration. They usually run for only five–, six– or seven days a week and run for more than 120 episodes.

Sinetron are usually made by production house such as Sinemart, MD Entertainment, etc. It is usually shown by national TV Network during primetime (6.00 pm to 11.00 pm) and becoming a priority programme since it has significant ratings that attract advertisers to buy commercial space during such broadcasting.


See: Televisa, TV Azteca, and Argos Comunicación

In Mexico, telenovelas usually has a love couple that encounter many problems throughout the telenovela, a villain and end with a wedding. One common ending archetype, consists of a wedding, and with the villain dying, going to jail, becoming permanently injured or disabled, or losing his/her mind.

In Mexico, Televisa and TV Azteca are the largest producers and exporters of telenovelas. The independent company Argos Comunicación is their main competitor. The American telenovelas produced by Telemundo tend to follow the Mexican model. Traditionally, telenovelas were often thought to be used as a government tool to distract citizens from national issues. Starting around 1990, Televisa found an enormous market for its telenovelas in Eastern Europe, as well as in Vietnam and other Asian countries. For example, Verónica Castro became an international star when the novela she had starred in many years ago, Los Ricos Tambien Lloran (1979), became a huge hit in Russia. By the late 1990s, the company claimed telenovelas were Mexico's leading export product. Many consider 1958 until 2004 to be Televisa's Golden Age of telenovelas.

At the same time, as the Mexican government loosened its control over television, telenovelas, primarily those produced by Argos Comunicacion, addressed new themes, including poverty, political corruption, immigration and drug smuggling. However, as long as the American drama and comedy series are taking space in the Mexican audience through cable or satellite TV and the growing of piracy, the television companies opted to adapt stories from Argentina, Colombia or Brazil and use veteran actors in order to decrease expenses in an industry that is decaying, at least, for both Televisa and TV Azteca.

Currently the most successful telenovelas are being created by Argos and Telemundo and are retransmitted (or adapted) by the main companies, the most successful one, La Reina del Sur based on the book of Arturo Perez Reverte, is based on a true story over a drug queen in Sinaloa. Even that, it got some censorship due to the Drug War and it was transmitted in a low rating channel. Despite this, the telenovela got more rating than other programs in the same timeframe.


Main article: Philippine drama

Philippine telenovelas first appeared on Philippine television in the 1960s with the first being Hiwaga sa Bahay na Bato by ABS-CBN. The format of Philippine telenovelas is almost the same as Spanish and Mexican telenovelas, as they have borrowed many elements including many clichés.

Classic Philippine telenovelas focus on the miserable life of the protagonist ("bida"), with a plot centred on some quest such as finding love or their lost family. Antagonists (called "kontrabida") were depicted as thoroughly evil: very greedy, rude and violent, often planning to kill or kidnap the protagonist for money. Telenovelas usually begin with the protagonists' past, move on to their future, and sometimes have flashbacks. Twists are also popular and often feature characters who are revealed to be siblings or relatives of the protagonist, or love interests. A typical ending is obvious and predictable, with the antagonist dying painfully (as a form of retribution), and the protagonist only being injured and hospitalised, later marrying and having children.. Casting was limited, with actors appearing as protagonists or antagonists in different, sometimes simultaneously-running series. Examples of classic telenovelas are Anna Liza, Villa Quintana, Mara Clara, Valiente, Kung Mawawala Ka, and Pangako Sa 'Yo.

Modern Philippine television drama is usually termed teleserye, a portmanteau of the English "television" and Filipino "serye" ("series"), and is sometimes called P-drama overseas. Series may belong to one or several genres such as suspense, comedy, politics, and fantasy. Teleseryes focus on the life of the protagonist, but have story arcs on the lives of other characters they meet; plot twists are often used to prolong series, which typically run for 6–8 months. Antagonists are less violent compared to the older, stereotypical telenovela villain and are depicted as more human and even pitiful. Unlike older telenovelas, they may reconcile with the protagonists, and often survive the show's ending. Directors also hire successful reality television contestants regardless of acting skill, either as minor characters or occasionally major characters.


The first Portuguese telenovela was Vila Faia, in 1982. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s almost all Portuguese telenovelas were broadcast by RTP. However, since the start of the 21st century, TVI has emerged as the most prolific broadcaster of Portuguese telenovelas. Morangos com Açúcar, one of its most successful telenovelas, is currently in its ninth season.

SIC, which usually imported telenovelas from Brazil's Rede Globo, has also started to produce its own telenovelas.

Portuguese telenovelas began to find expression in the world. In 2008 Portugal won the first Emmy for a Telenovela, with Meu Amor (My Love). In 2011, Portugal won its second consecutive International Emmy for the category Telenovela with Laços de Sangue (Blood Ties). Portugal also sells Telenovelas to Eastern Europe and Latin America.

Puerto Rico

The history of telenovelas produced in Puerto Rico often must be divided into before and after in many situations. There was a lot of acceptance of the telenovela genre in that country and there still in some interest today. The serials then were usually broadcast on national television within the U.S territory three days a week at 6:30 p.m, a full hour per episode telenovela at 7:00 p.m and another full hour at 9:00 p.m prime time. The local production of telenovelas began in the 1970s. Its successes have included Tomiko, La Mujer de aquella noche, Con todo mi amor, and many others. It is unknown if Puerto Rico will continue with its production.


Telenovelas were first introduced to Soviet viewers in 1988, when a stripped-down version (only 15 episodes) of Escrava Isaura was shown on the central TV. The series made was very popular with Soviet viewers. An even bigger success was Los Ricos También Lloran, shown shortly after. People were actively discussing the plot in stores and buses. Since that time Russian channels broadcast telenovelas (usually Brazilian) on a regular basis. Starting in the early 2000s (decade), Latin American telenovelas were replaced by Russian-made ones. Many modern Russian telenovelas are adaptations of the successful foreign ones (primarily Latin American).

South Korea

Main article: Korean drama

There are two main genres of Korean telenovelas, generally speaking. The first genre is similar to soap operas but without the never ending plot and frank sexual content. These dramas typically involve conflicts such as single and marital relationships, money bargaining, relationships between in-laws (usually between the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law), and often complicated love triangles while the heroine usually falls in love with the main character who may treat her badly since the beginning, instead of the one who always cares for her. These telenovelas last anywhere from 16 episodes to over 100 (most often not exceeding 200). The main broadcasters and producers of telenovelas are KBS, SBS, and MBC. Korean telenovelas export to the rest of world and have contributed to the general phenomenon of the Korean wave, known as "Hallyu".


Spanish telenovelas are known in the nation as culebrones (Spanish of "long snakes") because of their convoluted plots. The broadcasters of telenovelas are Telecinco, Antena3, and La 1; there are regional telenovelas produced in Basque and Catalan languages and are produced by EITB (in Basque) and TV3 (in Catalan). However, Spain isn't a telenovela maker as much as a telenovela importer.

Telenovelas can also help in the construction of a transnational 'Hispanic' identity, as the Venezuelan scholar Daniel Mato has suggested. The appeal of the genre lies in the melodramatic and often simplistic narrative which can be understood and enjoyed by audiences in a wide variety of cultural contexts. Bielby and Harrington have argued that this reverse flow has influenced soap operas back in the US, leading to 'genre transformation' especially in day time soaps. [13]

 United States

See: English Language Producers: Fox Television, The CW
See: Spanish Language Producers: Univision, Telemundo
See: MyNetworkTV telenovelas

In the United States, the telenovela concept has been adapted into English. The first telenovela was the soap opera Port Charles, which, although it began as a traditional soap opera, adopted a 13-week telenovela format beginning in 2000 and continued with the format until the show's cancellation in 2003. MyNetworkTV, an upstart network launched by News Corporation, launched two with nightly serials on September 5, 2006. After the moderate success of Desire and Fashion House, ratings began to decline. The second pair of telenovels, Wicked Wicked Games and Watch Over Me had decent ratings but not as successful as the debut telenovels. By the time the third batch, American Heiress and Saints and Sinners were shown, the ratings were disastrous and the format is being phased out. On the other hand, Ugly Betty has already proven to be a success story on ABC, although the network dropped the idea of the show as a telenovela and developed it as a standard weekly series. NBC developed an adaptation of the racy Colombian telenovela Sin tetas no hay paraíso called Without Breasts There Is No Paradise, but it was cancelled before being aired.

In 2001, when Telemundo was purchased by NBCUniversal, Telemundo decided to stop importing telenovelas from Latin America and to start producing its own telenovelas. In order to produce its own telenovelas, Telemundo allowed the Colombian production company RTI Colombia and the Mexican production company Argos Comunicación to co-produce the telenovelas with Telemundo. Telemundo's telenovelas follow the Mexican model. To have its telenovelas recognized by the audiences of the US and Latin America, Telemundo hired famous actors and actresses from Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, and Puerto Rico, Telemundo now also hire US-born Hispanic actors and actresses. Telemundo's first co-produced telenovelas was Amantes del Desierto, with RTI. The first co-production with Argos was Cara o Cruz in 2001. Another co-production made with Globo from Brasil in 2002 Vale Todo that didn't do well in the ratings. In 2003 Telemundo produced for the first time in Miami with RTI Amor Descarado. Telemundo's telenovelas have become successful, Telemundo began to export its telenovelas where it also became successful in Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, and Argentina. As of December 31, 2006, Argos no longer co-produces any new projects with Telemundo. The last co-produced telenovela with Argos was Marina. Telemundo continues to co-produce telenovelas with RTI, but Telemundo has also started to produce telenovelas by itself. In 2005, Telemundo created the Telemundo Television Studios in Miami to produce telenovelas, and Telemundo's first fully produced telenovela was Dame Chocolate. In 2006, Telemundo broadcast two telenovelas not created by themselves or its partners, the programmes are Amor Mío (Televisa/Telefe) and La Esclava Isaura (Rede Record). It is unknown if Telemundo will import more telenovelas in the near future, or it will continue with its production. Venevisión International also produced their own telenovelas in the United States and its telenovelas follow the Venezuelan model, Venevisión telenovelas filmed in the United States were aired by another US-based Spanish television network Univision aside from being aired by main Venevisión network in Venezuela and its telenovelas portray the lives of Venezuelan Americans in the United States. In recent years, Univision has also began producing its own telenovelas on it's primetime time frames.

Some Spanish-language telenovelas are now translated directly into English for USA viewers. Novelas on Telemundo are all closed-captioned in English because there is a small, but influential number of English speaking Americans who watch the Latin American telenovelas. Xenon Pictures also adds English subtitles to its DVD versions of Mexican serials.

The sudden interest in English telenovelas can be attributed to the appeal and successful ratings of the genre. Producers also see this as a way to attract the fast-growing Hispanic population, most notably the female sector of this demographic. In addition, telenovelas break the traditional United States television format, where a show runs for 20-25 episodes a season, once a week.


See: RCTV, and Venevisión

Telenovelas in Venezuela are mainly produced by RCTV and Venevisión. Like Televisa in Mexico, Venevision controls a large portion of all show business in that country. Some of Venevision's telenovelas also broadcast on Univision in the United States. Some major telenovelas produced in Venevision include Amor Comprado, Dulce Enemiga, Cara Sucia, Bellisima, and Pecado de Amor.

Venezuela is one of the largest producers of telenovelas in the world, with up to 279 serials of this style shown to date. Many of the major productions have been exported to countries like Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, the USA (on Univision) and many others.


The most important Telenovela award shows are the Mexican TVyNovelas Award, hosted by the Televisa TVyNovelas magazine, and the one presented by Contigo in Brazil. TVyNovelas also has editions in Colombia, Chile, Puerto Rico, United States and Contigo has an edition in Chile. In 2008, The International Emmy Awards created a category for best Telenovelas.

Comparison with soap operas

The standard American, British, or Australian soap opera is invariably designed to theoretically continue indefinitely, and indeed sometimes do endure for decades, with an ever-rotating cast of players and characters. However, most Latin American telenovelas have an average run of six months up to a year. The show's duration is pre-planned at the show's inception, with the overall story-arc and conclusion also known by the show's makers at its inception. Mundo de Juguete is one exception to the rule, with a total of 605 chapters (1974–1977), and a few cast changes during the course of the serial. Some earlier Argentine telenovelas (most of them penned by Alberto Migré) also ran for a few years.

Telenovelas also have a different type of story from English-language soaps, the typical telenovela story being focused on a rivalry between two or more people or families in romance or business. Many of them use stock themes like a cinderella (who is a rival of the male protagonist's evil girlfriend), two brothers after one woman (or two sisters after one man), mistaken/unknown parentage. Typically the hero gets shot (or something equivalent).[14][unreliable source?]

Telenovelas comprise the great majority of the dramatic productions by South American television networks whereas in the USA other formats like sitcoms or TV dramas are more popular on the English-speaking networks.

Accusations of white ethnocentrism

Some North American media outlets object to telenovelas of Latin American and U.S. Hispanic media on grounds that they are not representative of the racial make-up of the countries where they are produced, as they tend to have white, blond or blue-eyed people in major roles.[15][16][17][18][19][20][21] However, blond women seem to have a tendency to be villains in telenovelas.[22] Moreover, it is not unusual at all for a protagonist to be moreno/morena (brownish skin). However, it's been noted that characters within telenovelas that are economically successful tend to look more Caucasian. Criticisms have led to see this as a form of acceptance towards Caucasian models of beauty (present since Colonial times), and as a form of acceptance of inequality in terms of class, race, and gender (Uribe, p. 68-72).

See also



  • Castellot de Ballin, Laura (1993). Historia de la televisión en México. Narrada por sus protagonistas. México: Alpe.
  • Covarrubias, Karla; Angélica, Bautista y Ana B. Uribe (1994). Cuéntame en qué se quedó. La telenovela como fenómeno social. México: Trillas.
  • de Lizaur Guerra, María Blanca (2002). La telenovela en México 1958-2002: Forma y contenido de un formato narrativo de ficción de alcance mayoritario. Master degree dissertation in Mexican Literature. Univ. Nal. Autónoma de México.»
  • Roura, Assumpta (1993). Telenovelas, pasiones de mujer. El sexo en el culebrón. España: Gedisa.
  • Trejo Silva, Marcia (2011). La telenovela mexicana. Orígenes, características, análisis y perspectivas. México: Trillas. ISBN 978-6071709141
  • Uribe, Ana B. (2009). Mi México Imaginado: telenovelas, televisión y migrantes. México: Porrúa
  • Varios autores (2007). El gran libro de las telenovelas. 50 años de historia. México: Editorial Televisa.
  • Verón, Eliseo y Lucrecia Escudero Chauvel (comp.) (1997). Telenovela, ficción popular y mutaciones culturales. España: Gedisa.
  • Villanueva Solorio, Mario (1997). Para una tipología de villanos telenoveleros en México. Tesis profesional. México: ENEP (FES) Acatlán. Mención Honorífica.

External links

  • Telenovelas
  • Telenovelas Online
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