Reviewed by: Eddie
Who: “Telenovela” is a sitcom that aired on Winter Mondays during the 2015-2016 season on NBC.
What: “Telenovela,” a comedic behind-the-scenes look at a fictional telenovela (Spanish soap opera) shot in Miami, Florida, which follows the daily life of the show’s star (Eva Longoria) who does not speak Spanish, despite being the center of attention from the co-stars and crew.
When: The first season aired from December 7, 2015, to February 22, 2016, on NBC. The finale was the program’s series finale, as the show was canceled after one season.
Where: The fictional show within the show is filmed in Miami, Florida.
Why: I missed seeing Eva Longoria on TV; Desperate Housewives is my favorite show!
How – as in How Was It?
The pilot/premiere rating scale:
***** – I HAVE TO WATCH EVERYTHING. HOLY SMOKES!
**** – Well, it certainly seems intriguing. I’m going to keep watching, but I see possible pitfalls in the premise.
*** – I will give it six episodes and see what happens. There are things I like, and things I don’t. We’ll see which “things” are allowed to flourish.
** – I will give it three episodes. Chances are, I’m mainly bored, but there is some intrigue or fascination that could hold it together. No matter how unlikely.
* – Pass on this one, guys. It’s a snoozer/not funny/not interesting/not my cup of tea… there are too many options to waste time on this one.
Telenovela = *
Longoria’s Ana Sofia, the titular star of the long-running Las Leyes de Pasion, is thrown a curve ball when the network’s new boss (Chuck‘s Zachary Levi) casts her ex-husband as her male lead — without so much as a word of warning. Despite support from her costume-designer best friend Mimi (Diana Maria Riva) and insecure gay cast mate Gael (Jose Moreno Brooks), Ana Sofia starts spiraling, flashing back to a breakup that left her in a bathtub filled with tissues, listening to “All By Myself,” and eventually throwing a trashcan-overturning tantrum in front of a wall of autograph-seeking fans.
How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS
Telenovela brings back long time television star Eva Longoria to the small screen; she plays Ana Sofia Calderon, a lead actress on a telenovela. The premise is immediately interesting: Ana is a beautiful, sexy, and stubborn Latino who cannot speak Spanish; thus, being on a telenovela, or Spanish soap opera, proves difficult for her. With the help of her friend Mimi (Riva), Ana is able to do the job, but it becomes apparent that she is lucky she has good looks.
Ana starts the season in the middle of a major divorce from not only her husband in real life (outside of the show within the show) but also from her TV husband, Xavier Castillo (Jencarlos Canela), who returns to the telenovela. Drama predictably ensues. Other friends try to teach Ana to sing and dance and to perform as she should on such a program. Outside of the telenovela, Ana’s other major best friend, her gay pal Gael Garnica (Brooks), attempts to make Ana realize that her real-life actions and choices are not always the best, though he is ironically worried about being fired from the telenovela because his abs do not pass muster. I mean, I think he has some nice abs, but he seems pretty worried about them throughout the season.
I was enticed to watch this show based on the fact that I miss seeing Eva Longoria on TV. My favorite show, and my love, is Desperate Housewives. Yet, I feel as though NBC tried to capitalize upon Eva’s fan love from Housewives so as to justify ordering Telenovela to pilot. Telenovela lacked in several elements, however. In fact, it lacked so much in all aspects that I fear writing a review explaining what it lacked could take hours to write.
Let’s focus upon the positive aspects of the show for now. Telenovela is a comedy at heart. Every episode made me laugh, which is good, but any show, even a sitcom, needs a defined and concrete plot, and an underlying plot thread was missing from this program. Every episode seemed to rehash what we already knew about the characters without giving them a story or evolution to advance forward. What made Telenovela awful in the end was that it offered no plot, and the characters we loved, like Mimi and Gael, were given no story arcs. Every episode offered a comedic situation that made sense, but in the end, none of the episodes connected.
Another simple but major issue that I had with the show: I did not like Ana. Eva Longoria’s character was funny, but she was not the breakout or most entertaining character on the show; she was clearly meant to be the star, but she did not lead the cast in entertainment value. When I watched, I wanted to see more of Gael and Mimi. They stole the show; these characters lent purpose to the situations being depicted, and their story lines were overall better. Ana’s story line recycled tropes centered around divorced women struggling; they lacked originality.
In addition, I do not believe that many people know what a true telenovela is unless you LOVE TV, which I do, or unless you have a Latino grandmother who watches telenovelas still and cries every day because she fears that her fantasy lover may die. NBC, the writers, or the producers should have introduced a comedy that was fundamentally much more like a traditional telenovela; this sitcom version watered down the telenovela concept, and it got lost in translation, if you will. The creators’ or network’s approach seemed to be focused upon making a simple comedy without developing the angle of the comedy that made it unique, and though the show made me laugh, it was not executed well.
Overall, I feel that Telenovela offers little more than a quick Eva Longoria fix. I enjoyed the show, but I am not shocked that it was canceled. I rated the show 1 star, but I would give it zero stars if I could because I thought that Mimi and Gael were the funniest part of the show, and that they should be given their own show instead. The rest of the show was lackluster or outright poor. Honestly, in the end, the shirtless men proved to be the only reason I could get through this show.
I would not recommend this show to any TV lover like me, unless you hanker for poor plot lines that offer no connection or unless you want to stare at half naked men for a half hour at a time. Like I said – the half naked men was the only reason I made it to the end of this poorly conceived, poorly executed sitcom.
THE FUTURE OF THE SHOW
Canceled! Due to low ratings, NBC canceled Telenovela in May 2016. Season One, comprising the entire series, is currently available to stream on Hulu; do so at your own risk, though!