Spanish Novelas: A Retrospective of Mexican Classics

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Ah, telenovelas. The lifeblood of our mothers and the guilty pleasure of our fathers; clips of pop culture gold that have been engrained in our brains since childhood. Like school, a good work ethic and responsibility, we’ve fought novelas for years only to mature and realize the error of our ways. Now, we embrace such wonderful memories as scantily clad women traipsing around to terrible background music, hoping to land in the arms of galanes with over-the-top hairdos.

We a look back at several novelas that, although not in the running for the Premio de Novela Ciudad de Torrevieja award, should inarguably be considered classics.These works of art should be treasured—and made fun of for eternity.

Cuna de Lobos

The mother in a wealthy Mexican family has one thing on her mind: sleep with everyone for her own gain. La heroina, a victim in her own right, doesn’t need anymore enemies. Or does she? Everyone thereafter is screwed over—literally and figuratively!—in some way by the bitchy matriarch. The story is set in motion when the villain, Catalina Creel, kills her husband over a secret. Chaos ensues when an inheritance hangs in the balance.

We won’t spoil the rest but, in true novela fashion, simple and rational decisions are disposed of, thank heavens! What follows is a trifecta of betrayal, murder and heartbreak.

The betrayals and scheming are over the top even for sappy novelas. It was a huge hit in Mexico in the ’80s, probably because the idea of a rich family imploding seemed to be a hit with families struggling over the then-economic crisis. Of course, that’s speculation, but who didn’t want to punch out Catalina? For those still harboring the urge, Televisa came out with a remake just this summer.

Illegitimate children: 1
Catalina’s favored son knocks up an unwitting girl at the behest of Catalina. The girl tries to get her revenge but as always, tragedy results.

Dos Mujeres, un Camino

In 1990, Mexico was taken by storm with E-Train himself: Erik Estrada. Yes, this was one of the biggest moments to hit Mexican pop culture along with Gloria Trevi’s gross revelation of becoming pregnant while in jail. Anyway, Erik Estrada was tapped to play the lead role of a trucker who deals with two dame—his wife and his mistress. This is where we travel to cheese territory since the plotline can only be described in slogans, taglines and soundbites. Here we go:

Johnny was just an ordinary guy making an honest buck. He was driving to the U.S… on a one-way road to trouble. The married man meets a young lady who drove right into his heart and the two lovers come to a fork in the road and Johnny must decide between the two.

(Oh good God. I think I had an aneurysm writing that.) The novela was well received in Mexico and marked the return of sorts to the CHips star. Plus, it made for great TV!

People who get dumped: 1
Johnny wasn’t good at keeping secrets. The novela’s epilogue leads viewers to believe there is a happy ending then—bam!—his wife leaves him.


Thalía Sodi-cum-Mottola was huge novela sensation even at age nine. Then in 1994, she was given the role of a lifetime: the title role in Marimar, the story of a poor girl who falls in love with a rich boy. As fate and novela convention would have it, they marry and are happy… until the husband’s mom steps in and ruins everything. We find it quite baffling that a mother would not want her son to marry a hot yet humble girl. Indeed, the mother orchestrates an elaborate plot to separate them. Instead of getting to know her or even providing for a leg up a la Pygmalion, she decides the best thing for everyone is to ruin everybody’s lives.  Not exactly mother of the year material.

Don’t worry, Marimar gets her revenge on all parties involved,  up to and including giving Sergio a severe case of blue balls. Then Serg’s stepmom tries some truly evil shit (God, what is it with novelas and bitchy older women?) She fails then Sergio and Thalia live happily ever after.

Illegitimate children: 1. Death count: 2
This novela has it all! First off, Serg knocks up another fair lady and has the kid. Then Sergio’s mom goes from bitchy to “I want to shoot the shit out of her” territory. How? Well, by orchestrating the murders of Marimar’s grandparents.

There you have it folks! Sure, there are plenty more novelas but we can only spend so much time glued to Galavision. Adios for now. But remember, we will be on the lookout for more pop culture treasures from all over.