Coisa Estranha #1: novelas

I’ve decided to start doing a feature on here about things that are weird in Brazil. Because there are a lot of things that are weird in Brazil, and constantly make you feel the need to reference this meme:

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So right now, I need to talk about novelas. As you may or may not know, latin countries have obsessions with novelas. But as an American, I imagined a Brazilian soap opera to have the same sort of cultural relevance as a soap opera in America does to an American housewife. It’s nothing like that.

First of all, novelas are widely believed to be “realistic” and “relatable” by viewers. They “realistically depict” the plights of the working, middle and upper classes rather than throwing in countless twists of bringing people back from the dead or secret twin brothers previously unknown to the cast (like an American soap opera). I’d venture so far as to say Avenida Brasil is probably more relatable than The Hills or any show about the Kardashians is to the average middle class American.

Furthermore, novelas are watched by everybody, and I do mean everybody. 20-something dudes, old women, kids, everybody knows who Carminha is and what she did last night. Oh but, what’s that you say? You can’t watch it because you’ll be at dinner? Fine. It’s playing in the restaurant. Locked out of your apartment? Don’t worry, your doorman will be watching it on his tiny TV next to the feed of those people making out in the elevator.

"I don't care if the whole building's being robbed, did you see what happened with Carminha?"

“I don’t care if the whole building’s being robbed, did you see what happened with Carminha?”

Every “season” there are 3 novelas running simultaneously every weeknight. At 6pm, you have a more romantic (and often times historical or religiously-themed) novela for the whole family to enjoy. A novela das sete (7pm) is usually more comedic, still toned-down in the sex and bad language department, but also less important. The most important novela socially is the novela das oito, which literally means, the novela at 8pm, except that in reality it starts around 9pm, sometimes 8:30 (Brazilians).

I can’t begin to explain why these novelas are so popular, because between my rusty Portuguese and 4 subplots, I can’t follow a single episode. And my friends are usually too engrossed while it’s on to explain anything.

The only thing I can tell you is that this chick is always crying, and every single viewer seems to love her anyway.

The only thing I can tell you is that this chick is always crying, and every single viewer seems to love her anyway.

And if you do happen to miss it, despite it being played in every single location imaginable, there are actually recaps on public transportation. Yes, so if you are worried about spoilers, don’t ride the bus.

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