Original post date: 2/19/13

Every day at 4:30, my host mom watches a telenovela called “Herederos,” which means “Heirs.” It’s about a family who spends half of their time working with bullfighting and the other half sleeping with each other. It’s insane…the wife of one of the men (who is also sister’s with the matriarch of the whole clan), is having an affair with her sister’s husband. Meanwhile, one of her sister’s daughters is in love with her psychiatrist and the other one is in love with a bi-sexual bullfighter. Confused yet?

And don’t even get me started on “Amores Verdaderos.” At least “Herederos” is well-acted and well-filmed. “Amores Verdaderos” looks like a community theater troupe found a semi-professional camera and an encyclopedia of clichés decided that it would be a good idea to make a television show. It focuses on a rich family, whose members are protected by two principal body guards (In Spanish, they’re called “guardaespaldas,” which literally translates into “back guards,” which delights me to no end). The younger, incredibly handsome bodyguard is in love (surprise, surprise) with the gorgeous and spoiled daughter. But the daughter has a boyfriend, who is pursing the daughter of the other bodyguard. Said other bodyguard is also in love–with the mother of family that he guards. Meanwhile her husband is–the expression in Spanish is “se pone cuernos”, which means “to put on horns” (get it, like the devil?!)–sleeping around with his predatory secretary who wears skin-tight dresses and five inch heels!

Alright. Let’s just take a moment to catch our breath…


…we’re back!

So the wife of the married bodyguard finds out that her father wasn’t really her father all along, and then has a long sequence of crying and yelling and stumbling against trees in a park while a confused inner monologue laments her situation. But the crowning achievement of the show happened when the mother of the rich family found out that her beloved bodyguard had left, leaving her a loving note. She sits down to read the note and then gently sets it down and the “love theme” begins to swell and for the next five minutes–I wish I was exaggerating–the camera zooms in and out on her quivering lips until she finally bursts out in a fit of overdramatic tears.

Needless to say, I was in hysterics.

At this point, you may be wondering…what is the point of all of this? The point, my friends, is that I had a very intriguing realization the other day. At the university, I’m taking a contemporary history of Spain class. Before coming to Spain, my knowledge of its history was as follows:

  • The Inquisition happened. At some point.
  • Ferdinand and Isabel got married, and there was much rejoicing.
  • Elizabeth I defeated the Spanish Armada.
  • Muslim kingdoms occupied Spain. Yeah.

My professor’s name is Francisco (feel free to repeat like Elf…we all do) and he has an awesome mustache, and after a couple weeks of class, I realized….

Spain history is like a telenovela.

It really is. And I’m completely hooked! Drama! Intrigue! Betrayal! It’s all there!

Two examples:

Back in the day of the great Spanish monarchs, there was a king (Carlos IV) and a queen (María Luísa de Parma) and their minister (Manuel Godoy). It was rumored that María and Manuel had a little thing goin’ on, but no one really knows for sure. During this time, Napoleon was raging through Europe, and hadn’t yet obtained Spain. But more importantly, France was interested in occupying Portugal, Britain’s only access to the New World. So France was like, “Hey Godoy, if you let us pass through Spain, we’ll give you the bottom of half of Portugal.” Godoy, who was little power hungry, was all, “Let’s go!” So they arranged to call the king and queen to France, and when they got there, the French imprisoned them! Meanwhile, the French marched through Spain and decided, what the hell, let’s stay in Spain too. Obviously, more happened, but you’re going to have to look that up! Yay Wikipedia!

The other story deals with the son of Carlos IV, Fernando VII, the most “torpe” of all Spanish kings. At this point, Spain was running low on money and resources, but its colonies were fighting for their freedom in the America. Fernando ordered his armies to defend the territories, but one complete bad-ass, Rafael Riego, knew that sailing to the New World would be suicide. So instead of obeying his king, he said, “I don’t think so.” But wait…there’s more! Riego was just a powerful general in the navy—that’s it—but he had the support of the whole army. Riego told Fernando that he wasn’t going to defend the colonies, because Spain couldn’t afford to keep them anyway, and ordered the king to reinstate the old constitution of 1812! Fernando complied with Riego, because he literally had an army—his army (awkward)—and for three years Spain operated beneath the constitution and new ideals of liberalism.

Then class ended. I begged my teacher, “¿Qué pasó con Riego?” (What happened with Riego?!)

Francisco, of the cool mustache, told me that we’d have to wait until Wednesday.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s