Imperfect Living

21 Takeaways from Binge Watching a Telenovela on Netflix

I feel like I can regain part of my mental self back.

For the past few weeks, or rather months, I’ve been immersed in the world of the Mexican elite with the popular telenovela from the early 2000s, Rebelde. And now that I’ve gone through 440 episodes, almost an hour long each, I’ve got a newfound respect for storytelling and Netflix.

Let me start at the beginning…

I am as avid of TV watcher as you’ll find. I regularly keep up with a ton of shows and had a few on my queue such as “This Is Us” and “Supernatural.” However, on November 9th my inner world took a major blow and I found myself disinterested in anything related to entertainment. I simply stopped watching everything. I disconnected the cable box from my TV and dug myself into a dark cave.

If it wasn’t building my brand or working on my business, I was NOT interested.

Slowly I started reconnecting with some form of escapism but it wasn’t the same. Then one night, I remember thinking to myself…

“Self, your ass needs to brush up on her Spanish in case you need to flee to another country.”

So I thought, why not get into a telenovela as a way to work on my conversational Spanish. It seemed like a simple idea and it was. The hard part was picking the telenovela. Then I remembered about the pop group RBD and how they were part of a telenovela capturing their fictional rise to fame.

I remember the series when it first came out but I didn’t watch it because, well, I wasn’t 13 years old and I was in my own hustle bubble doing shows and attempting a short film.

Now that I have some time on my hand and a desire to get into something completely the opposite of what’s going on in the world, I thought why not.

I had to really sit with myself and decide if I wanted to commit to this. From what I remembered it was a VERY popular show and when I double checked the Netflix profile there were 440 episodes.

To put it in perspective, most popular shows in the US barely hit the 200 episode mark and for those that do it takes many years to do so.

This of course excludes the daytime soap operas which have been in existence since Eve took the apple from the snake. If I recall, that apple taking scene was a Friday cliff hanger as we awaited to see what God was going to do to the scandalous couple in the following week.

But I digress. The point is 440 episodes is A LOT and I almost balked because I have commitment issues and wasn’t sure I wanted to relive some version of high school.

I moved forward and watched a few episodes. After 2 episodes I concluded that this was essentially Gossip Girl meets FAME, in Spanish. It’s pretty obvious.

Mia is Serena. Miguel is Dan. Diego is Chuck. Roberta is Blair.

I remember Gossip Girl, at one point, had an average audience age of women in her late 20s which was when I watched it religiously so I felt at home and familiar with Rebelde. To be honest, Netflix is the ONLY way I’d watch a telenovela.

Committing to a daily show for 6-12 months, or in this case 2 years, is not something I’m ever prepared to do. I’ve tried and no dice.

Anywhos, back to this Mexican teen drama with singing, lots of T&A and runny non-waterproof mascara.

I learned a few things while watching 440 episodes of this telenovela:

  1. I am BEYOND grateful that I’m not in high school anymore.
  2. Where the hell were the Afro-Latino kids?!?!
  3. Does the phrase “script continuity” not translate into Spanish?
  4. I understand that subtitles help non-Spanish speakers follow the dialogue but don’t do it unless you have someone who knows BOTH languages well. 75% of the subtitles DID NOT translate properly or well at all. I lost count of how many times I said “that’s not what they meant when they said that.”
  5. Latino culture is just as misogynistic as American culture but less obnoxious about it.
  6. “Padre” means more than dad.
  7. Moral agendas lead the storytelling. All those kids and sex is barely ever a primary issue or topic.
  8. Same goes for drugs.
  9. Same with homosexuality.
  10. Did I mention the complete absence of Afro-Latinos?!?!
  11. I was triggered a NUMBER of times. Way too many childhood issues were brought to the surface.
  12. Latinos really know how to bring the drama.
  13. There should be an awards show dedicated solely to one’s ability for crying on cue.
  14. Extra points given to the women who are sobbing profusely without a wrinkle on their forehead. (I see you and raise you a botox treatment!)
  15. Satire only works when everyone involved (writers, actors AND audience) are aware that something is satire. Otherwise it’s just over the top for the sake of being over the top.
  16. Secondary characters, aka not one of the leads, are typically the most memorable.
  17. Same goes with their character arcs. I’m looking at you Celina. 😉
  18. Whoever came up with the idea of spinning off the pop band into a real life pop band was freaking BRILLIANT! I tip my hat to that marketing genius. ($$$$)
  19. All shows need a proper send off. Seriously, I’ve seen series where the seasons are cut short or cancelled and we never get closure. That’s what’s so awesome about telenovelas. They close it out PROPERLY!
  20. Product placement on these shows are a hot mess.
  21. With that said, Klennex should have been all over the last episode.

While 440 episodes is A LOT, I was not ready to say goodbye. I’m sure if I had the luxury of watching the series over the course of 2 years I would have been better equipped for it finishing.

Binge watching it though, over the course of a few months, brings you so deep into that world that you’re never ready for it to end even though you know it should.

I was not expecting to get so emotional towards the end. I was excited to be finishing it but sad to let it go. And now I find myself without a new world to get lost in which means I’m stuck living out the real world with all the BS going on.

But I will say this, I left the series feeling a profound sense of determination to reconnect with my fictional writer self. I’ve always wanted to write a story where others can get as immersed in a make believe world the way I was for the past few months. And now, after watching this telenovela, I feel like I know how to do that.

Also, for the record, script continuity might not seem like a big deal when watching something day-to-day but binge watching brings all those imperfections to the forefront. FYI…you know…for the future…

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