You may have noticed that Netflix have recently added a bunch of Spanish-language TV shows, telenovelas and movies – yes, that includes Netflix Australia. This was a sight for sore eyes, because we have been suffering major telenovela withdrawals since En Otra Piel finished on SBS. So we watched the first episode of each of Netflix Australia’s telenovela offerings, so you don’t have to. And here, we help you to decide what to watch next!
la casa de al lado (2011)
For those of you who loved En Otra Piel, this will give you the most bang for your withdrawal-symptom-buck. One episode in and I was hooked just like I was with EOP. From what I can gather, this telenovela will revolve around two families who live next door to each other. In one house, Pilar is unhappily married to Javier. He works as a lawyer for the Conde family next door – who seem to be shady AF. Gonzalo has recently married into the Conde family, and he’s the second husband to Ignacia, whose first husband fell to his death from the balcony of their house. But is he really dead? Of course not – this is a telenovela! So I am waiting for him to reappear. In this first episode, there’s already one murder, one affair and the setting up of a very tangled web of lies and mystery. I can’t wait to tune in for the next episode. Also, a few EOP stars are among the cast: David Chocarro (aka Diego), Alexandra Pomales (aka Valeria) and Jorge Luis Pila (aka Gerardo).
P.S. Now 30 or so episodes in and CANNOT GET ENOUGH.
P.P.S. Check out our 10 Reasons to Watch La Casa de al Lado!
tierra de reyes (2014)
This one finished up in the US in July 2015. Funnily enough, I think it might be based on Pasion de Gavilanes – which you’ll see from the review further down, I hated. Somehow though, I loved the first episode of this one! Alma is having an affair with an older guy, Ignacio. Just when Ignacio is about to divorce his wife, he is murdered. Then, Alma is also found dead. Alma has three very attractive, protective brothers who, on hearing of her death, immediately set out for revenge. They arrive at Ignacio’s ranch ready to stir up trouble. Of course, Ignacio had three beautiful daughters and sparks start flying immediately between Arturo and Sofia. There’s plenty of other drama – Ignacio’s wife Cayetana is your standard villain. Sofia’s husband, Leonardo, is definitely shady – and seems to be in cahoots with Cayetana. Sofia is dealing with baggage after being assaulted, and being married to Leonardo doesn’t help. The first episode really just sets up the “motives” that will propel the rest of the story forward, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this will turn out.
PS. As I near the finish line to this one, it has officially eclipsed La Casa de al Lado as my fave. So much romance, so much drama, love, love, love it!
If you need further incentive to give this a go, check out our top ten reasons to watch.
la doña (2016)
Definitely more on the serious side, but less graphic (at least so far) than Dueños del Paraìso and La Reina del Sur, this one looks like it might strike the right balance between gritty and romantic (is there such a thing?). One episode in and you’re introduced to the title-character – Altagracia, aka La Doña. She’s the owner of a construction company. She’s mean and a little scary. But, you feel a certain degree of sympathy for her because she was assaulted by a gang of thugs as a young teenager. So she’s all about the girl power – but to the extreme where she’s pretty much out to wreak revenge on the male species entirely. Then there’s Saul, played by our FAVE David Choccaro. He’s the hero lawyer out there defending women who have been assaulted. And it just so happens that his parents live in the apartment block that the Doña is trying to demolish to build a new shopping centre. And she’s just had his dad arrested for trespassing. Queue defensive first meeting between the likely lovers. Other plot lines include the daughter the Doña gave up – they’re bound to come into contact with each other. And apparently a love triangle – it’s not a telenovela without it! So, will Altagracia fall for Saul? Will she get revenge on the thugs that attacked her all those years ago? Will she accept her daughter into her life? Looking forward to finding out!
For the LOLs
silvana sin lana (2016)
If you’re after something more light-hearted, more like a sitcom but longer, more laughs than eye rolls, then this is the telenovela for you! Based purely on my one-episode-test, this is like … The Brady Bunch, meets … well, something where the love interests work with seafood. You’ve got Chivis and her three daughters, who are forced to move to the barrio after her husband leaves them penniless (he’s caught up in some scandal). And she moves next door to Manuel and his four kids. There’s an incident involving cars and fish flying (no I am not kidding) and death stares between Chivis and Manuel. But hola, this is a telenovela, they are definitely endgame. All the kids seem great so far. Chivis’ mother also lives with them. She’s a major snob but a total hoot. Plus there’s a bunch of peripheral characters that I have a feeling I am going to love. So definitely give this one a go – it’s a fun show to watch! It only just finished in the US so it’s fantastic to see Netflix bringing us new shows.
If you like shows about drug cartels, and lots of violence
dueños del paraíso (2015)
From the opening scenes you can already tell that this one is more violent crime drama than typical melodramatic telenovela. For one, there’s a bunch of guys in a helicopter with some pretty nasty-looking guns that crash the main character, Anastasia’s, birthday party and massacre a bunch of guests. In fact, as someone who isn’t really into violent dramas, it was quite graphic to me. And then, her husband, Nataniel (who, EOP fans will recognise as Rodrigo) takes off in a boat, leaving her behind. Apparently this is the beginning of some drug cartel war. Then in Miami, there’s the Romero family. They’ve just moved into an apartment complex and their landlord is a drug dealer. And that’s as far as I could get. There was a fairly violent rape scene and that’s when I decided enough was enough. Definitely not my cup of tea. At most, it’s set in the 70s, so there’s plenty of great fashion. Loads of aviators, sideburns and Farrah Fawcett hair. But that wasn’t enough to keep me going.
la reina del sur
The episode opens with Teresa having a relaxing bubble bath with some tequila, a joint and mood music but things take a dramatic turn! She gets a phone call telling her to run because her husband, a Mexican drug trafficker, has just been killed by some nasty gun-toting cartel goons (there’s also a helicopter involved – Telemundo must have a fleet). There are a lot of flashbacks explaining the couple’s past but other than that, Teresa spends most of the episode running around town in the most inappropriate getaway shoes (patent baby blue high heels) trying to escape the men who killed her one true love. She approaches the head of the cartel to exchange some business papers in exchange for help fleeing to Spain. As with Dueños del Paraíso, there’s a rape scene, drug use and strong-ish violence so watch at your own risk! For those who have seen it and loved it, there’s an American remake called Queen of the South.
pasion de gavilanes (2003)
I couldn’t even get through the whole first episode of this one. And I’ve read the Wikipedia page that summarises the plot. And it sounds like it’s right up my alley – i.e. romantic and supremely melodramatic with cowboys thrown into the mix (for something different!). But what I saw in the half hour I suffered through, was violence against women, sexism, and outdated views about what is and isn’t appropriate. I saw three completely over-the-top brothers carrying on, fists flying, because their sister was having an affair with an older man. And that’s about as far as I could go. If anyone wants to persuade me why I should continue watching, drop me a line below!
For all of you Disney fans out there, this one is for you! Definitely more kid-friendly, but fun to watch in a High School Musical way, this “sort of” telenovela is made by the Disney Channel. It centres on teen Violetta, who attends music school – she’s a singer. Unfortunately for Netflix, the first season isn’t available, but you can easily start at Season Two. There’s a a love triangle between Violetta and two guys at school. There’s a romance blossoming between her aunt (sister of her mum, who died when Violetta was younger), and her clueless dad. And the bonus is really teeny-bop, catchy songs sung throughout. It’s very camp and cheesy, but if that’s what you’re into, you’ll love this!
So that’s where we are at. With a bit of luck Netflix will continue to add more telenovelas – we’ve heard Netflix in the US has a killer list of them! If you’ve watched any of the above, we’d love to hear your thoughts below.
Don’t forget to check out our post 10 Things to Expect While Watching a Telenovela!