Whether you watched Breaking Bad or not, it’s safe to say that you know the story of Walter White, the cancer-stricken high school chemistry teacher who resorts to cooking meth to pay his medical bills. Had Obamacare been available at the time of its debut, this mess could have been avoided – but then we wouldn’t have followed the flawed story of one of the greatest anti-heroes in television history. And for those who are still holding vigil by your velita-lit Heisenberg posters in memoriam of the end of the series, you’ve got a new friend to follow: Walter Blanco.
Back in May, we heard that Univision greenlit a Latin American adaptation of Breaking Bad, which would be called Metastasis. We even joked that Walt and Jesse would turn into “Willie y Jose” – and we weren’t that far off. More details have emerged about the Sony Pictures Television Colombian remake, and apparently Walter Whit is turning into Walter Blanco- en español. He’ll be joined by partner Jose (Jesse), his wife Cielo (Skylar), and his brother-in-law Henry Navarro (Hank.)
The business of adapting U.S. shows to the Latin American marketplace is an interesting and complex one – often because these direct adaptations include cultural aspects that just don’t translate. In 2006, for example, Argentina debuted a local remake of Desperate Housewives called Amas de Casa Desesperadas. The show, which in its U.S. version takes place in a middle class suburb, had to grapple with the fact that in Buenos Aires: a) there are no suburbs, b) the only things that resemble suburbs are wealthy gated communities called “Countries” (so-called because they are modeled after U.S. country clubs), and c) as a result, the plumber love interest of the original series had to be changed to the CEO of a plumbing company. And in Metastasis, because motor homes are not widely seen in Colombia, Walter Blanco will be cooking his blue meth in a more common vehicle- a broken down, barely drive-able autobus.
It’s not just Latinos cribbing U.S. programming, however – the adaptations cut both ways. The United States has long been remaking film and television shows to the point where we almost expect every horror film to be an “adaptation from Japan.” (Because let’s face it, nobody does spooky quite like they do.) Plus, with increased interest in Latino faces and stories on the big screen, Hollywood studios and networks have begun dipping into local Latin markets searching for their next hit. Perhaps one of the most successful Latin America-to-America remakes has been Ugly Betty, adapted from the Colombian novela “Betty la fea.” More recently, Eva Longoria took inspiration from Mexican novela Ellas son la Alegría del Hogar to produce Lifetime’s Devious Maids.
And after the (albeit controversial) success of Devious Maids, Eva Longoria has signed on to produce a remake of Colombian novela Pura Sangre for ABC networks. The show, renamed Trust, will not re-cast its main characters, meaning the leading cast will mostly be Latino actors.
It’s a start, but maybe a change is finally coming.
Check out the new sneak peek of Metástasis below! What do you think?