Due to the increasing popularity of nighttime dramas on Spanish television, I have asked my schemed colleague, Prof. Earnest Prankheimer, to be a guest columnist for this week. He is a poet lariat, and graduated Mea Culpa from the Sam Houston Institute of Technology, with BS in Talksacology. He has graciously offered his expertise on this subject. Please enjoy.
Rules For Spanish Language Drama
by Earnest Prankheimer
Spanish language television performs a valuable public service for the Hispanic community, but it hasn’t much to offer for the rest of us. Their dramas can be entertaining, though, for nothing else than comparing the contrasts between programming for provincial, rather than more cosmopolitan audiences. On occasion, they are historical period pieces, which of necessity involves an abundance of peasant blouses and sombreros, to say nothing of horses. Usually, though, they are similar to the afternoon soap operas to which we’re accustomed. I like to call them soapapillas. I often watch them in the evening while I’m masticating.
Because Hispanic drama is quite different than the slick detergents we’re used to, the viewer may be disoriented by not so subtle variances in timing and dramatic effect. I offer here some guidelines to aid and enhance the viewing experience. Understanding Spanish is not required.
- The titles of the programs will include at least one of the following words: love, desire, heart, or passion. An example is “En Nombre del Amor” (In the Name of Love, I think).
- All the young actresses will be bountifully endowed in the chestal area, wear plenty of makeup, and be severely overdressed, while showing suitable cleavage. Big, bold, and gaudy jewelry will be mandatory. Note: you will have no trouble telling the good girls from the bad ones.
- Older actresses will wear their hair in a matronly fashion, to match their style of clothing, but the jewelry rule is always in effect.
- The young male actors will all be handsome and buff, with enough hair oil to grease a farm combine, and must have at least the top three buttons of their shirts unfastened. This last rule is waived in the case of a young man being a priest.
- All the characters will live in sumptuously furnished haciendas or villas. The servant class will easily be distinguished by their uniforms, as well as their humble demeanor in the presence of the other characters.
- Not all men with moustaches will be villains, but all villains must have a moustache. There are no exceptions to this rule.
- All actions by the characters will be overdone, larger than life. Think of stage actors who must exaggerate their every movement so as to be seen from the cheapest seats at the back of the theater.
- There will be a good deal of crying and even weeping, by the female characters, as well as the young men in unbuttoned shirts. Do not be alarmed.
- The musical accompaniment will seem much more emotional than the situation would seem to call for, in order to match the actions of the characters.
- Camera close-ups at emphatically dramatic moments will be uncomfortably long, so that the musical crescendo has time to reach full intensity. At this point, a commercial break will follow.
- Nuns and priests, when they do appear, will in all cases be sympathetic and understanding, and will only rarely show anger. Nuns may at times also show tears, but there is no crying in the priesthood.