The telenovela has its origin in Latin America and for a long time has become a cultural asset on the continent. Latin American telenovelas are watched not only in a national context, but also far from national borders. Likewise, Turkish and South Korean telenovelas are now also shown on Latin American television.
Telenovelas reach all social levels and are often watched together with the entire family. They are therefore aimed at all age groups and genders. They are usually shown Monday to Friday during prime time, after the evening news, and are thus considered as mass media. A telenovela consists of several episodes that are built upon each other. A telenovela consists of about 120 and 180 episodes. The story has a clear beginning and ending, and runs, in contrast to the soap opera only for a limited time. Even if an episode is missed, it's still easy to follow the story. A telenovela almost always follows the structure of a melodrama.
At the beginning of the plot stands a conflict, an injustice. The main character, in many cases a woman, finds herself in a situation where she cannot achieve what she wants. This can be for various reasons, for example economic, because she lives in poverty, or her living circumstances are very precarious. Social affiliations for example can be another problem, if she belongs to a particular family or has no family at all. Another kind of conflict could be that she doesn't know something at the beginning, which puts the main character at a disadvantage in comparison to other characters. The main protagonist’s character is modest, kind, and generous. During the telenovela, a love relationship develops with a man, often from a higher social class. The protagonists must face challenges, secrets, and intrigue. In a telenovela, as in melodrama, there are different characters, such as the villain, the protector, the troubled and the fool. The family of each character often plays a significant role in the plot. The end of the telenovela is often predictable but still remains exciting. A telenovela has a happy ending, such as the fulfillment of the love affair that seemed impossible at the beginning or the achievement of justice. The initial injustice is resolved over the course of the plot.
A telenovela plays with the contrasts between rich and poor, good and evil. Everyday emotions that we know from life are evoked, such as love, disappointment, and anger. This allows the viewer to identify with the characters and leads them to follow the telenovela faithfully over numerous episodes. Elements are used to create suspense. For example, secrets between the characters play an important role, which are revealed during the plot and allow different storylines. The cliffhanger at the end of an episode, such as the famous "to be continued," is designed to show the outcome of the situation in the next episode, making viewers want to continue watching through the telenovela. Telenovelas have a great influence on society because they often highlight social problems, such as unemployment, poverty, or corruption, among others. But primarily it is because the telenovela offers elements with which its audience identifies, and it thus becomes emotionally involved.
Find more information about telenovelas:
- Gordillo, Inmaculada (2011): La hipertelevisión: géneros y formatos, Pp. 123-137.
- Martín-Barbero, Jesús (1988): Matrices culturales de la telenovela, in: Revista Estudios sobre las culturas contemporáneas I (4/5), Pp. 137–164.- Mazziotti, Nora (Hg.) (1995): El espectáculo de la pasión. Las telenovelas latinoamericanas. 1. ed., 1. reimpr. Buenos Aires: Ed. Colihue (Colección Signos y cultura, 4).- Michael, Joachim (2014): Telenovelas und kulturelle Zäsur. 1. Ed., Bielefeld: Transcript.
-Soler Azorín, Laura (2017): La Telenovela, eso que nadie ve pero todo el mundo sigue. ”. In: Hispanorama, 157, Pp. 12-16.