Thursday, October 05, 2006

Putrify in hell, Doña Jacinta!

We have a bustling scene over at Caray! Caray!, the English-language blog for recapping (and editorializing upon) Spanish-language telenovelas.

I learned Spanish by watching telenovelas: my very first vocabulary set included "NO PUEDE SER" ("It can't be!") and "NO ME ENGAñES!" ("Don't betray me!") Watching novelas is a guilty pleasure which can be justified in the name of language-learning.

Anyway, while blogging "Alborada" here at Pratie Place, I discovered a seriously under-served online population: people who are addicted to watching novelas without understanding Spanish. I was getting 2500 hits a day!

It was exhausting to watch the show every night and then write it up. It was also drowning my blog! So when Alborada ended, I took the enterprise to "Caray! Caray!" where we now have a dozen recappers working on three novelas: "The Wounds of Love," "The most beautiful ugly girl," and "World of Wild Beasts."

Telenovelas are not like American shows. Longer than a mini-series but shorter by far than "Days of Our Lives," each novela has a life-span of four to six months, airing five nights a week. The bad guys are triumphing, and the good guys suffering, for most of that run. At the very end, the bad guys come to spectacular ends: they fall on sharp things, toss each other off tall buildings, they get leprosy, die of syphilis, get eaten by alligators, etc. (For more, see this post.)

Today I describe the rise and fall of a typical villainess, Doña Jacinta of Barrera de Amor. You know she's bad because she dresses in black and carries a cane.

Doña Jacinta started out poor, but married the wealthy Pedro Valladolid, on whose estate bulls are bred for bullfighting. They had a son, but husband Pedro fell in love with another poor girl. On the night he was going to leave Jacinta, he went into his arena to have a last look around. Jacinta opened the corral of a very big mean bull - it rushed out and trampled her husband to death.

She erected a sort of shrine to him and his ancestors, with big oil paintings, and spent her time talking to the oil paintings about the august heritage of the Valladolids, which she had upheld by preventing her husband from shaming the name, and also praying to God, whose humble instrument she proclaims herself to be. Her specialty: saving all the people around her from the sin of "lujuria" (lechery).

While she was busy praying, her only son Adolfo fell in love with a humble cook (who was in love with a veterinarian with a potbelly and a double chin, but that's a different story). Rather than woo this cook in the usual way, Adolfo raped her and then blackmailed her into marrying him.

Jacinta did not approve of her lowly daughter-in-law, therefore procured "powders" from a bent doctor and started poisoning her tea. The daughter-in-law became dizzy and sick and dropped her baby down the stairs, and was subsequently driven away leaving the baby in Jacinta's control.

Two women discovered Jacinta drugging her daughter-in-law and were going to turn her in, so she trapped them in a wooden shack and burned them to death.

Then she confessed all to her priest and he was so surprised he fell on the floor in diabetic shock. She stood over him and watched as he feebly asked her to hand him his insulin, which was well within reach, but she let him die there on the floor. "Isn't this the way the world works," she calmly philosophised later. "Yesterday, the priest was saying mass over [the two ladies I burned to death]. Tomorrow, we will be saying a mass over him."

Twenty years of evil mayhem pass and we find her poisoning her own grand-daughter, who has come home with a baby (Pedrito). Then she tries to kill the baby (death by opening the windows at night).

However, Jacinta's luck changes, her race is almost run. She and all the other villains are unmasked, at church, by the assembled multitude of good guys! They are accused of all their crimes! What an excellent day to go to church! The church ladies will be talking about this one for a long, long time!

A Bonny-and-Clyde pair of villains - also unmasked at this splendid event - snatch baby Pedrito, hold a gun to his head, and make a getaway which ends with driving their car over a cliff and exploding in fire far, far below.

Luckily they had put the baby down first, but this was not the end of little Pedrito's problems, because his great-grandmother Jacinta, having been called a lying hypocrite in church, and having discovered she has signed away her rights to the Valladolid estate, makes a circle of votive candles in her room, surrounds herself with the Vallodolid portraits, and sets the room on fire with the baby in her arms. Oh no, will the innocent baby die?

Well, no. The good guys burst through the door and snatch the baby as a flaming beam falls on Jacinta. She burns to death on the floor, surrounded by melting portraits of the Vallodolids. Good has triumphed over evil once again.

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At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Ethan said...

Apropos of nothing, I watched the pilot episode of "Ugly Betty" the other day, and found myself appreciating La Fea Mas Bella all the more. I don't understand much Spanish, but just in the delivery and production "Lety" has it all over "Betty". I never saw the original (La Fea.. is a knock-off as well) but like the bad old days of re-using carbon paper, "Betty" pales in comparison.

Had to share.

At 10:03 AM, Anonymous Sylvia said...

You should really post this saga of Doña Jacinta on Caray, Caray!! It's excellent. She was a marvelous villainous and worthy of her own shrine. Maybe someday you'll write a song about her called Putrify in Hell.

The first telenovela phrase I ever learned was "No me provoques!"

At 10:52 AM, Anonymous Alice said...

Great condensement(?)of "Barrera".
I would have liked to have seen
Jacinta spontaneously combust, which would have shown what God thought about her various crimes and then saying she was the instrument of God.
Boy, if you would have written this BEFORE we watched B, we could have saved ourselves many hours of boredom.
As usual, you are the queen of recap.

At 11:03 AM, Blogger melinama said...

Thanks, guys! The last few weeks of Barrera were really worth it. Heh.

At 11:21 AM, Anonymous alma said...

Melinama, You were right about fire being key in Jacinta's demise! In Alborada, the villianess poisoned herself and her equally evil son, and I thought this method was a jip! She left on her own terms, and her son died in his sleep, so neither had to 'face the music' so to speak... How do you rate Jacinta's end compared to other villians?

At 11:24 AM, Blogger melinama said...

Well, Alma, as usual I would complain that the ratio of suffering to causing-of-suffering is unsatisfactory. Jacinta poisoned, killed and bossed people around for thirty years or so and had servants doing her bidding, she separated lovers and drove her son crazy etc., and for thirty years of enjoying an evil life, she only suffered for a few brief minutes.

At 4:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, si....isn't that always the way it is??? The bad people never seem to get as much as they give!!! Asi es, asi the telenovela world and in the real world as well. Susanlynn, trying to be good

At 4:45 PM, Blogger Jean said...

The new TV show, Desire, on MyNetworkTV, is supposed to by an American novela. See the Wikipedia entry: It will run Monday to Friday for 13 weeks.
I don't know sucessful it has been.


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