Spanish soap operas are also called Telenovelas. They have most of the same elements as American soap operas, inlcuding long storylines, interpersonal intrigue and high levels of melodrama.
Elements of a Spanish Soap Opera
The Spanish soap operas we see in America are not from Spain, but are Hispanic, Latin or Brazillian soap operas. The stories on these televised dramas are slightly different from those of American soap operas. Unlike daytime dramas in the United States, Telenovelas are usually shown during prime time.
There are two styles of Telenovelas: Classical (also called pink), and Modern. Classical Telenovelas are known for rather dumb characters engaged in melodramatic, romantic escapades. Modern Telenovelas tell more involved stories, sometimes dealing with current social issues, and also include romantic relationships. You'll find Modern the style featured in Brazil, while Classical Telenovelas are found in Mexico. Cable stations always offer a smattering of each type.
The stories in Telenovelas usually span a shorter time period than their American counterparts. An American soap can drag a storyline on for years, while Telenovelas have shorter stories that average 6 to 10 months in length. At the end of the story, the series may end or the characters may return in a new story.
There's no subtlety in a Spanish soap opera, particularly those of the Classical school. In nearly every scene, someone will be threatened, someone will yell or someone will start to cry hysterically. If those things aren't happening, it's because two people are heading for the bedroom. All of this action is set to loud, dramatic music that sometimes competes with the action on screen for attention.
Shows to Watch
Spanish soap operas can be fun to watch, even if you don't know much Spanish. It's easy to tell the relationships between characters and who the good and bad guys are in most shows. Here are some shows to get you started: