Oct 3, 2010


A couple of years ago, I wrote here about the difficulty of finding consensus in anything regarding telenovelas. I still feel the same way. It's almost impossible to find an aspect of a telenovela in which everyone thinks alike.

This week I've been reflecting particularly on the "rhythm" of a telenovela. That is, on the pace of events that make up the everyday life of a telenovela. This reflection came about thanks to my study of La Mujer Perfecta. I asked my study audience participants about their opinion of this telenovela's rhythm. Their answers varied so much that it was impossible for me to conclude anything! From "there are days in which nothing happens" to "too many things happen and too quickly," and every possible answer in between.

I decided then to list every "happening" or event that has been aired in each of the six main plots of La Mujer Perfecta. The list isn't short. Still, the audience's readings stand, begging for more analysis. Hence, I asked more in-depth questions to some of my participants, and arrived to the following preliminary conclusion:

It seems that each one of us has her/his own measuring stick to assess the rhythm of a telenovela. Sometimes, we're waiting for something in particular to happen, and that doesn't allow us to see the other incidents that are going on in the show. The opposite also happens: we think a lot is going on because what we want to happen is actually on the screen and/or things are happening in our favorite plot. Meanwhile, we might not realize that other plots are somewhat stagnant.

This is one of the many difficulties of writing a telenovela. For things to "happen," the dramatic knot must be constructed carefully. If not, when that knot "explodes," it won't have the force it should have had. At the same time, events and incidents must occur constantly (or write them so that the public has that perception). If not, the audience will feel that "nothing is happening" in the show.

Obviously, "rhythm" is a complex and difficult topic for writers, producers, network executives...and researchers.

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