A recent nod to soap operas over at Privilege set me to reminiscing about my own relationship with the genre — which dates back to the year I was 14. I spent many an afternoon babysitting after school, and got hooked on “The Doctors.” Alas, the series didn’t last long, and I shifted my loyalty to “The Young and the Restless.” (Apparently, I like soaps with definite articles in the title.)
I still like Y&R, though I’m not a faithful viewer any more. But I am a devoted fan of “Amar en Tiempos Revueltos,” which is a soap set in post-Civil War Spain — we’re in 1956 right now. It’s a huge hit, despite the often silly or frustrating story lines (Why did they kill off Chelito? WHY?), and I’m betting that it’s in part because of the great wardrobe/hair/sets, and in part because it’s reasonably accurate from a historical perspective. Watching ATR is a regular part of my “sobremesa” after lunch, and if I miss it during the day, I often go online to watch it in the evening. It even helped me pass the DELE exam last spring; the characters use a lot of useful colloquialisms.
Soaps — in both the after-lunch and evening versions — are very popular in Spain. In addition the nationally-produced options (the late, lamented “La Señora”; “Gran Reserva” — essentially Falconcrest set in La Rioja; and “Gran Hotel,” which takes place in a — can you guess? — Grand Hotel), we’re in the middle of Downton Abbey fever. I don’t watch it, though, because I can’t stand that Dame Maggie Smith (and all the other actors, poor lambs) are dubbed into Spanish. I’ll be getting mine off iTunes instead.
Today’s vocabulary word is culebrón — a soap-opera; a pot-boiler. It comes from culebra, meaning “snake.” Great visual, huh?