With over-the-top acting, borderline-ridiculous plot twists, and a well-dressed cast, NBC’s Telenovela does a great job of mimicking the typical Latin-American soap opera of the same name but sadly lacks in creativity in its attempts to make viewers feel entertained.
The parody follows the life of actress Anna Sofia Calderon (Eva Longoria) who stars in the telenovela called Las Leyes de Pasión which translates to “The Laws of Passion.”
Her castmates include Gael Garnica, (Jose Moreno Brooks) the vain but loyal gay best friend who plays one of her lovers on the show, and the jealous older Isabella Santamaria (Alex Meneses), the arch-enemy of Anna who wishes to reclaim her former fame as a telenovela star.
While the viewers see the drama played out on screen, the real drama is behind the scenes. Each episode is a path into a subplot about a conflict.
For example, there is one episode when Anna’s personal assistant Mimi Moncada (Diana Maria Riva) has a misunderstanding with her love interest, the macho Rodrigo Suarez (Amuary Nolaso), on their relationship status and another where Isabella Santamaria’s twin visits with supposedly good intentions but ends up betraying Gael when he spills the beans on the horrible things that Isabella has done.
The show has plenty of subplots but the main plot surrounds the happenings of Anna and her career. Although a telenovela star, Anna does not know Spanish. She only learns enough to perform the script, but not without the occasional miscommunications with her fellow castmates.
Nevertheless she manages with her limited Spanish and all is well with her career until one day Anna’s ex-husband Xavier Castillo (Jencarlos Canela) is cast as her love interest in the show. It is from this awkward situation that all sorts of supposedly funny incidents occur.
What I meant by “supposedly funny incidents” is that the worst of the issues with Telenovela are not with the screenplay, but rather with the poorly crafted, meant-to-be-hilarious situations that are supposed to entertain the viewers but fail to do so.
The jokes that the cast members make, understandable to even the least-informed on Latin American culture, are humorous enough to draw a half-efforted nose snort from viewers, but the supposedly humorous situations are both poorly delivered and redundant.
The scenes presented felt awfully cliché: the jealous ex-wife getting caught while breaking into her ex-husband’s home, the overly-flamboyant homosexual who cares excessively about his appearance, and the protagonist making failed attempts to land in the spotlight.
Worse, the way the circumstances are presented make it seem as if the writers for Nickelodeon sitcoms were making futile attempts to adapt a children’s show to an adult audience, complete with the cheesy acting.
Telenovela is supposed to be a show that uses the concept of a Latin-American soap opera and make it humorous for both Latin-American and American viewers alike.
The show may have been a great idea at first, but it sadly lacks inspiration and leaves viewers feeling both unsatisfied and unsure about whether they are willing to endure another episode of the same-old scenes in just another comedy.