Wednesday, September 14, 2016

An Abundance of Characters

In the telenovela there are more characters and storylines than in any other show or movie I have ever seen. The only exception is the American soap opera, but I think the abundance of characters there is for nearly the same reason. This long cast list is true for mine- Avenida Brasil- and several others we have discussed in class, but may not always be the case. Regardless, I think the telenovela- and soaps- is the only medium that is suited for it. Their extreme length (150 episodes = roughly 150 hours of content) means that there is ample time to have multiple in-depth storylines that are intertwined. None of the supporting stories are fillers or strictly plot devices, either. Each one is carefully planned and full of details- just like the characters.

Earlier in the semester, we discussed similarities and differences between soap operas and telenovelas, and I was surprised by how few there actually were. This is not one I remember big mentioned, but is the most solid connection in my opinion. However, this similarity is linked to their commonality of longevity (though telenovelas are not endless like soaps *cough cough Grey's Anatomy*).

It is the completeness of each storyline, not just their presence, that has so enamored me with Avenida Brasil. It feels much more like real life in that sense. No one's life is in a vacuum where their lives only mix with 5 people. The combination of the stories is much more well done than most subplots in movies- those typically feel like they had much more potential than what came of them or that they were shallow and created to move the plot along more organically.

All of this is to say that I am pleasantly surprised by the number of stories and characters I have become invested in. There is ample room left for plot twists and full development for each of them, and I believe they all get nearly equal share of screen time right from the beginning. There are probably plenty of central characters that I haven't even met yet!


  1. Rachel,

    I am also impressed with the detailed character development and plot lines that are evident in telenovelas. I do think that the large number of episodes allows writers to give detailed accounts of all aspects of a character’s life and link all the characters together in ways we would have not thought possible. I am watching La Reina del Sur, which has about one third of the episodes your telenovela has. It would be interesting to compare and contrast the speed and dimension of character development and the detail in the story lines of the different telenovelas. One major difference is my telenovela mostly follows the main character Teresa Mendoza and does not have an abundance of main characters. However, it would be interesting for me to see if the quality of detail in the plot and character development is greater in a telenovela like yours, rather than mine.

    It sounds like Grey’s Anatomy is a good comparison to the telenovela you are watching. How would you compare the quality of character development and detail in plot line between the two? I feel like American television shows can be very predictable with the dramatic events that happen in the story line, for example, in Gossip Girl. Gossip Girl was similar in the way it had many characters and intertwined their stories as the characters developed, but the drama between the characters was very predictable to me and almost seemed repetitive. Have you been finding this to be a similar issue? Personally, I feel that telenovelas would have more of a surprise factor in the drama and plot twists in the story lines. Im curious to see if you feel like your telenovela ever feels like it is dragging on and needs to end before the last couple episodes, because I have friends that feel that way about Grey's Anatomy!

    Great post!

  2. I definitely think more characters keeps the telenovela fresh and interesting, but when we watch trailers and previews in class, I completely lose track of everything going on because there are so many people sometimes!

    It is awesome to hear that your telenovela has all these characters and is still done well because I feel that could really mess up a plot or an entire telenovela; if you have a ton of characters, but no character development, what's the point?

    In regards to the comparison of soap operas and telenovelas, I think it is an interesting point that, though TV shows from the United States kill off/add more characters to keep producing more seasons, telenovelas don't have to necessarily worry about that. I'm almost more impressed that the writers of telenovelas like yours are willing/creative enough to create several plots that interact with one main plot with a large amount of fully developed characters.

  3. I agree, Rachel! I think it's intriguing how many different characters there are, but like you said, they all play an important role in the show and aren't simply there as a filler. I was also surprised how different telenovelas actually are from soap operas because before beginning this class, I like many students, grouped them into the same category and thought they were very sterotypical. At first, I thought that 150 was considered a lot, but One Tree Hill has 187 with each episode being around 1 hour. I think it seems like less because they are split up into seasons. I think the viewers get so emotionally attached to characters in telenovelas so quickly because drama is continually occuring. In my telenovela, The Family Next Door, there are at least 10 new twists per episode. In One Tree Hill, there are main characters and new ones comes and go, but the most important are consistently there. Many differences between telenovelas and American shows. But like you, I am totally obsessed with my telenovela and could not be happier with my experience thus far!