Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Faster, bigger, better

From what I can tell, the cost of production of Yo Soy Betty, la Fea, were relatively low to average in comparison to most of the telenovelas produced at the same time. Betty's set is relatively simple as most of it takes place in the offices of Ecomoda. There was nothing particularly flashy about the set, just simple office studios. Other episodes take place in Betty's house which is a simple, lower socioeconomic status house. In terms of costumes/clothes, there were some characters that wore nicer clothes but overall, everything was pretty simple.
Since the series is 17 years old, it's very easy to see the advances made in television production in that the quality is not very good in comparison to productions made today. I think there has been an overall rise in the cost of production in the telenovela world (as well as television overall). Period pieces have become more common and typically entail massive budgets. Pieces like La Esclava Blanca, El Gran Sultan de Sulieman , and A Escrava Isaura are produced incredibly well and have massive production budgets as a result. Period pieces have also become widely popular even outside of the telenovela world (Downton Abbey, Outlander etc). Ultimately, I think these trends of high quality shows with high production costs resulted in the creation of the super series by networks like Telemundo. These shows are shorter in length but typically have very high production quality and fast-paced plots. I think as consumers, we've turned towards the idea of faster, bigger, and better and networks have had to adjust their production formulas as a result. Most super series have between 60-80 episodes whereas telenovelas like Betty had 160+ episodes. I think as a society, we have shorter attention spans and get bored with longer series as a result. Similarly, I found it interesting that Telemundo, a US based network, created the super series. I think the Latino population in the US was exposed to high production television networks (HBO, ShowTime, Starz) and began to demand high quality telenovelas as a result. Like Dr. A said in class, networks are constantly tweaking their production methods in order to meet consumer demand.

I find the phenomenon of the Turkish telenovela to defy some of the trends we've seen in productions like super series. Despite high quality productions, the pace of the telenovelas are incredibly slow. This doesn't necessarily make sense in terms of faster, bigger, better but for reasons like plot, romance, chemistry between protagonists etc, audience appear to accept slower paced telenovelas.


  1. Izzy,
    I totally agree with you about how amazing it is to look back years and see how much more advanced production has become. However, I think there is something comforting about watching movies and shows that were made before the high tech production we have now. By this I mean watching an older television shows almost makes you appreciate the actual content of the show more than watching it for the effects. For example, Friends is an older show anyone can binge watch. Like Yo Soy Betty, la Fea, the production is nothing amazing and is quite simple. Yet, you cannot get enough of the show. This points out that no matter how advanced the production quality gets, people do not have an issue settling for lower quality filming if they truly love the show. From the presentations in class, it seems those who watch Yo Soy Betty, la Fea feel the same way as many Americans do about Friends.
    Another interesting thing in the industry is that higher quality versions of old shows and movies are being made available. For instance, you can get HD or Blue-Ray versions of the Disney princess movies now. This being said, I am interested to see if this option will soon be made available for older television shows to please the audience. I think what is driving this is the quick advancement of technology in general- there are no more VHS players, CGI is being used more than ever and extremely high quality filming is simply expected. In order not to lose these classic television shows they need to be integrated into our new technology or they simply film a higher quality and more modern remake. I’m interested to see where the filming quality goes, yet I hope the bar for the actual content of these television shows remains just as high as the film quality.

  2. I think your take on the idea of bigger, faster, better telenovelas and television shows is definitely something worth thinking about. I think the superseries are definitely more similar to the intense television shows that we see in America on television and on Netflix, etc. However, I think that some people are still attracted to the longer-running telenovelas because they get attached to shows. Thinking about the American shows that I am hooked on, these can have just as many individual episodes as a telenovela. The only difference is that they break them up into seasons and build suspense for fans by premiering the seasons about twice a year, with months in between each premiere. This allows the shows to stretch out over numerous years, rather than running over 100 successive episodes in one year as in a telenovela. I think that organizing the episodes that way allows the networks to not only build up suspense as well as the fan base, but it keeps people from getting that boredom that seems to be a bigger and bigger issue.

    However, the networks of both these shows and these telenovelas need to be able to gauge audience response in order to understand when the audience is bored and ready for the show or telenovela to end. I have stopped watching many of my favorite shows by the 7th or 8th season because of boredom and repetitive plots. The telenovela I am watching has over 100 episodes, however, and it is fast-paced enough that I don't think I will grow tired of the plot, but I have yet to finish it. I don't think my telenovela has extremely high production costs, but it does a lot with what it has to keep the audience entertained.

    Either way, whether a super series or a traditional long-running telenovela, I agree that the networks should continuously tweak their production methods in order to keep their audiences captivated.

  3. Hi Izzy, this was such an interesting take on the modern vs. classic telenovela production. While the style of production has definitely changed in so many ways across television in general, it makes sense that it would be due to competition with other stations like HBO or Telemundo. Looking back at shows that were on TV in the 90s and early 2000s, it's no where near the quality of shows like El Gran Sultan de Sulieman or Game of Thrones. These types of series run up millions of dollars in production costs, often per episode. Which may seem like an absurd amount, but when you consider shooting on location, CGI, costumes, etc., it begins to add up.

    But you make an excellent point, shows like these often have much less episodes than long running shows like Betty La Fea. It would be nearly impossible to spend that much on 160+ episodes, especially with a plot that doesn't require epic CGI or costumes. The production Betty La Fea reminds me of one of my favorite sit-coms, Friends, which is primarily shot on 3-4 sets per season. While the production isn't outrageously creative or cinematic, I fell in love with the characters, the humor and the plot line. So like fans of Betty La Fea, it isn't always about the shock value or set production, sometimes it's simply the comedic writing and casting that can make a show a sensation.