I signed up for this class because I got hooked on Jane the Virgin. The storyline was unique and the drama of each episode made it impossible to stop watching, which, as a broadcast major, is the phenomenon we actively chase every day. We are constantly trying to figure out how to engage with an increasingly distracted audience and capture their attention, which is something telenovelas have figured out. So while my love for Jane the Virgin was a major factor in enrolling in this course, my curiosity about how telenovelas maintain their relationship with an audience was also a propelling force.
It is clear, even after only two weeks of class and exposure to telenovelas, that the story is the most important characteristic in a telenovela. The same is true of the broadcast stories we see on television or online. If they don’t have anything interesting to say, or aren’t articulating information in an interesting fashion, we aren’t going to listen. I spent last semester reporting local news here in Athens Clarke County and frequently the most impactful stories were often the most boring ones. For example, my task one week was to report on parking meters in downtown Athens. Thrilling, right? But it was important because the city was implementing metered parking in areas that were previously free parking spaces. Still, not too entertaining, definitely not much-watch stuff. However, I found a business owner who was in favor of the meters because they forced residents to move their cars and not hog the spaces in front of his business, giving his customers a place to park. Conversely, I met a resident who lived across the street from the business and was pretty pissed that he was going to have to start paying to park. And boom, there was my story. Sure, no one was pushed down a stair case, the business owner and the resident were not twins swapped at birth, and there was no love triangle, but there was legitimate tension and the meters impact the whole city; but did anyone care to listen to me ramble about parking meters?
The trouble was finding a way to make this information worth caring about. It is a real struggle getting people to listen to you when the topic of conversation is a snooze fest, which is the case in regards to most stories about politics. Telenovelas have a reputation for being silly and over the top, but if they can help me learn how to effectively tell a story, then the silliness and drama is completely worth it. I hope to be as good as a Telenovela writer one day; the ability to enthrall an audience of millions every single day is an incredible accomplishment.