Mar 4, 2008


Thanks to the invitation of LACSA (Latin American and Caribbean Studies Association), I did a presentation in honor of Women's History Month titled: Beyond Cinderella: The Representation(s) of Women in Telenovelas.

Preparing this presentation challenged me. First, I never know how much information my audience already has about telenovelas. Second, the presentation should mix description and analysis.

I decided that the best way to explain the many Cinderellas that have populated telenovelas was to show examples. Therefore, I showed clips of famous telenovela Cinderellas: different versions of Simplemente María, La Zulianita, Marimar, etc. Later I showed some recent variations on the Cinderella theme: Todos Quieren con Marilyn and Juana La Virgen. I also commented on telenovela women who broke the Cinderella mold, such as the protagonists of El País de las Mujeres. Finally, I reflected about the possible reasons for the global success of Cinderellas.

The presentation was a gratifying experience. The room was full with members of the University community: students, faculty and staff members. I was asked interesting questions that centered on the enigma of the continuous success of telenovela Cinderellas around the world. This is an important question. Its answer isn't easy to pinpoint in a genre with as many paradoxes as the telenovela has.


Victor Kulkosky said...


I'm wondering if you've found that the Cinderella theme is more prevalent in telenovelas than in American soaps. Although my exposure to American soaps is episodic -- my wife is watching them while I'm in the same room -- there appear to be few Cinderellas but many scheming, well, I guess some would call them whores.
Victor Kulkosky

Dr. Carolina Acosta-Alzuru said...

Victor, Cinderellas are definitely more common in telenovelas than in American soap operas. The prevalence of Cinderellas--stories of social ascent--is not surprising in Latin America, a region characterized by economic instability. Women in American soap operas present other conflicts, but share with telenovela women the perennial teetering between the two extremes of the binary opposition virgin:whore. If you want to read my take on the differences and similarities between telenovelas and soap operas, you can check these two posts:
Telenovelas v soap operas I
Telenovelas v soap operas II

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