It started off as a joke. The last novela I got into was in 2009. And again, Fernando Colunga was the lead hottie. As he has been for the last 20 years. My Mom was in town visiting and immediately asked if we had a TV so she wouldn't miss her novela that night. "Sorry Ma, no cable but we have the Internet," I replied. After a quick search, "Pasion y Poder" was on Hulu. And the most recent episode too! Relief. Thank you, Latino Marketing Departments.
In the first 30 minutes of the episode, I'm cracking jokes like a culturally relevant Mystery Science Theater robot.
“Can you believe her outfit? Who wears tight dresses to work in an orphanage?”
“Who are they fooling with that wig?”
“Why does that dude always have crazy eyes when he dramatically takes off his glasses?”
I'm live tweeting for my own amusement with #PasionPoder, as watermarked on every scene by the network. My rational brain pulls apart the synthetic drama fibers one by one. Lodging my thoughts in the non sequitur Twitterverse.
"Tengo que ir a la oficina" Is Franco code for Marintia's apartment #PasionPoder
"I didn't tell you because you're dumb, Gaby" is what Franco is saying #PasionPoder #WTF
< So many perfect reaction gifs. >
The novela tweetfam validates this. We become united to the mockery and loyal to the drama. This is how we connect. Live tweeting becomes my cultural melding of irony spiced with emotional investment. It’s than just the “likes”. It’s more of like, helll yeahhhh!
Then, the irony fades dramatically. A genuine interest in the drama encircles as the ridiculously good looking actors drive further into my innate chismosa genes.
“How are they related?”
“Do they love each other?”
Mom's laser focus promptly answers all my toddler questions. She fills me in with all the backstory I have missed. She leaves no plot stone unturned.
“Julia must decide between Eladio, her husband who lied to her for 20 years about his child out-of-wedlock, and Arturo, her former fiancee who fathered a child outside of their union? And that’s just the start…”
"Damn... I'm hooked," I sigh deeply. The last time I sighed this deeply was when I caught the feels for a Tinder dude. This can't end well.
Over 2,000 miles away, Dad sighs at a scene with the protagonist and his daughter. Arturo disapproves of Regina’s boyfriend David because his mother is the former fiancee who dumped him when she discovered his illegitimate son. Now the children of the former couple are in love, and no one understands why. What a drama bomb, I tell you.
It's an emotionally loaded scene. "Fake tears on fake eyelashes" real. Dad sighs at the huge display of televised affection. There is no irony here. There are only projections of all his feels. It's the Dad equivalent of me ugly crying at every episode of Jane The Virgin. I don't know this though; he hasn't called me. The abyss that's carving between the TV dad and his daughter is mirroring ours. Will Regina listen to her father? Will Arturo accept his daughter's choices? Am I going to call first or will he? He’s not too disappointed in me, right? We're too similar and too stubborn to be in this nuclear family Cold War.
If only we are made aware of our character flaws as clearly as these novela characters. If only things were as consistent as the way Eladio knots his ties or the way Justino loves Clara. Where in this novela world, we are guaranteed a happy ending because one is not promised in ours. Give the people what they want. Give them poetic justice. Let the bad people lose and good people win. Let Death be as predictable as rolling down a staircase. Give them a catchy theme song at every make out scene. Give them the love they are missing in their lives. And wrap it up in an hour. Dinner is waiting.