The greatest audience on brazilian non-paid TV surely belongs to the “Telenovelas” (or simply “novelas“). The “novelas” are something between an american TV series (expensive productions) and a mexican telenovela (daily aired but with a little less drama), usually presenting contemporary themes on brazilian quotidian life.
Although they are more often enjoyed among lower social classes, they can get really popular even among the extremely rich people. However, that’s one of the (many) brazilian addictions I will probably never be into. It’s not that the production themselves are bad, sometimes the TV channels expend a huge amount of money on them by using distant locations, renown authors and famous actors. It’s just that for some reason I don’t seem to be able to relate to the characters nor the stories. And I don’t know why! 😦
Maybe I’m too much of an alien in my own country but I feel usually bored whenever I try to watch them. And since most people here either watch the current novelas or at least know a lot about what’s going on them, it can be really difficult to be like this. Not knowing a popular character or plot automatically puts you on the “weird people group”. Sometimes it can even be hard to sustain a conversation with others for more than a few seconds if you’re not familiar to the current “novelas” being aired. They dictate fashion, they are opinion formers and they generate many polemic and controversial topics (like a certain “gay kiss” showed on one of them) in Brazil.
Well, I did watched a few of them when I was younger: One called “O Clone” (The Clone), about a scientist who cloned some guy without his permit or knowledge and the love story between this guy, his clone and a muslim girl. Another one was “O Rei do Gado” (The King of Catle), about two rival italian families of farmers and “Renascer” (Reborn), about a poor guy who became a millionaire by becoming a Cocoa producer in Bahia. But all of those are from a time before cable TV. Maybe that’s the reason why I enjoyed them or maybe they were indeed very good stories.
You see, I’m really a “TV series person”. I’m a HBO series fan, I grew up with Buffy – The vampire slayer and I even watch Japanese dramas frequently. What’s the big difference between those series and the brazilian ones, then? Honestly I have no idea. All I know is that nowadays I simply can’t relate to brazilian “novelas” anymore. I could say maybe there’s a lack of good plots, but “good or bad plot” is totally a matter of point of view. Maybe the characters stopped being interesting (but then again, that’s a matter of point of view too) or maybe I’m just too different from common brazilian lifestyles. Got figure
If you are planning to come to Brazil be prepared to hear a lot about the “novelas” and if you want to pose as a great Brazil aficionado make a good research about them (like the most popular channels are Rede Globo, SBT and Rede Record). That alone will certainly guarantee you long conversations with most brazilian people. 😀
EDIT: My sister (who’s a former English teacher) said “novelas” in English are soap operas. But I read about them and (although there are some similarities) they are not quite the same thing. Apparently brazilian “novelas” really are things that only exist here :~