On Telenovelas and Family Connections

23 Sep

All through my childhood and teenage years, my mother and I had a daily ritual. At around 7:00 P.M., we would gather in the living room to watch the latest novela, a Mexican soap opera. Some of them made us angry, others made us laugh, others cry, and yet others were just plain ridiculous. The telenovela itself wasn’t important. It was the time we had to enjoy something together. Now that I am four hours away from her and can’t visit her all the time, I still watch telenovelas, so that every day we have something to bond over. Currently, we are in the process of watching Teresa, a telenovela about a beautiful young woman who is intelligent enough to succeed by herself, but has chosen a husband who will give her a prominent social position over true love.

The idea itself isn’t very original. My mother and I watched a story very similar to this one a few years ago. However, watching a telenovela isn’t about the story itself. If it was so, the often ridiculous storylines would not have an audience. It is always fun to hear my mother say something like, “That Teresa! She’s never going to learn!” We don’t take the “novela” seriously, but use it as something to laugh together about. And that is exactly what telenovelas are about: Togetherness. Telenovelas have become a part of Mexican families, and in turn, a part of Mexican culture. They are something that anchors someone like me to my roots.

With classes, an internship, and a part-time job on my plate, I really do not have the time to watch shows. However,  I make time to watch Teresa on my TV or to search for the latest episode online. It is something that makes me feel closer to my mother, and in turn closer to my Mexican heritage. Unlike American soap operas, telenovelas have the ability to mean much more than a “cheesy” story. Rather, telenovelas can become part of a way of  life.

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