Sometimes I feel that in Latin America we spend a lot of time arguing which is the best type of telenovela. The ones called "rosa" or those that in Venezuela we've decided to call "de ruptura", but that scholars define as "neobaroque" (Calabrese, 1997) and "stylistic postmodern" (Steimberg, 1997).
Taxonomies are never perfect. But, we can say that Esmeralda, written by Delia Fiallo, is the archetype of the telenovela rosa. It includes a traditional dramatic structure, a love story between two protagonists of different socioeconomic levels, a baby switch, a blind protagonist that recovers her sight before the end, manichean characters, a generic context, a scarcity of subplots, and the many twists and turns that have kept several generations glued to the TV watching its many versions and remakes.
Por Estas Calles, originally written by Ibsen Martínez (he didn't write it until the end), exemplifies the telenovela de ruptura. Por Estas Calles chronicled and editorialized the Venezuelan political situation while its main love story eventually disappeared.
In general, telenovelas are located in a continuum between these two extremes. Some are more rosa with their redundant and repeated plots and simplistic characters. Other telenovelas are more de ruptura as they include social conflicts and changes taken from reality, present complex characters that are both ambiguous and unpredictable, and tell stories that combine personal and social problems. Personally, I prefer the latter. I like telenovelas whose characters are so well constructed that their actions are coherent, while the telenovela doesn't lose any of its entertainment or emotional power. I like telenovelas in which identification occurs thanks to a process in which we recognize ourselves and those we know in the melodrama's characters and plots.
The argument Rosa vs. Ruptura has consumed network executive, writers, actors, entertainment reporters and the audience. Nevertheless, it's increasingly difficult to classify a telenovela using this taxonomy. And it's virtually impossible to predict a telenovela's success based on this tipology. The genre's history is populated with both telenovelas rosa and de ruptura which have been successes and failures. The truth is that we can spend our whole lives arguing this topic, but telenovelas can only be classified as GOOD or BAD ones.