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Telenovelas need stronger characters not more sex

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Why is it that every time ratings fall, the answer is to heat it up with more skin exposure and sex scenes?

It happened when Televisa’s defunct telenovela “La Tempestad” was in trouble and now with the telenovela “Quiero Amarte” currently airing in Mexico. But unlike “La Tempestad”, the script for “Quiero Amarte” is actually very good.

What started out as an excellent novela is now lukewarm at this point. It is very well written but at times seems painstakingly slow. And now the producer, Carlos Moreno Laguillo, feels that he needs to heat things up between the co-stars to position himself in the never-ending ratings war.

Gone are the days when things were left to the imagination. Rashida Jones had it right when she wrote about the Pornification of Everything earlier this month... and Mexico’s telenovelas are not the exception.

In the 70’s, lips barely touched in many telenovelas and sex scenes were left to the imagination of viewers. Many fondly remember telenovelas like “Los Ricos Tambien Lloran”, “La Colorina” and “Vanessa”.

A sex scene in the 80’s telenovela “Juana Iris” was the camera panning from the kissing couple to their hands squeezing tightly. Viewers never saw it but it was understood that they were having sex. No visuals needed and sex was not the centerpiece of the story. Now it seems that they must show more skin and scenes in bed in order to tell their story and elevate ratings.

The main actress of “Quiero Amarte”, Karyme Lozano, has threatened to quit if she is directed to be passionate and explicit in romantic scenes with co-star Christian de la Fuente just to elevate ratings.

Before Karyme was contracted to star in this novela, the producer Carlos Moreno Laguillo, agreed to respect Lozano’s religious beliefs. It seems that in order to play the ratings game, Moreno Laguillo is willing to dump that agreement. But Lozano will quit if the producer does not honor it.

The main argument is that her character is weak. And while Karyme’s acting may not seem strong, it is not entirely her fault.

In a scene where she is arguing with her ex-husband Horacio while their daughter is in the house, Lozano’s character was pathetic. Writers have made her character, Amaya, seem dumb and naïve as though she did not know that her husband was playing the victim and making her seem like the villain in an attempt to win over his daughter. Anyone with two senses would have noticed what was going on, including the character of Amaya.

In the telenovela, Amaya constantly protects her ex-husband and denies her situation to the man she truly loves instead of being honest and strong about it. With the old age excuse that she is protecting her daughter, writers have degraded her character. They have made Karyme Lozano’s character vulnerable, weak and well… dumb. Karyme Lozano’s character needs to be stronger, not sexier.

This is not to say that all telenovelas position women as weaklings.

In “Que Pobres Tan Ricos”, also currently airing in Mexico, the main actress is the complete opposite. Lupita, played by Zuria Vega, is a strong woman who is a single mother. She works hard and is not one to mince words. Ratings are much stronger for that telenovela and sex scenes are not at the heart of that story.



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