“Mary For Mayor” Is A New Kind Of Telenovela! With Many Of Your Old Favorites!!

Que tal!

Mary for Mayor” is a new kind of telenovela, and it’s a lot of fun! It was available on Netflix, and now you can find it on Venevision USA!

Mary For Mayor

MFM is a sly story combines the best of the old and the new: It’s a new way to watch telenovelas, but it’s full of your old favorites too. It’s like a novela family reunion, but without the possibility of a family murder. “Mary for Mayor” is not like any novela I have seen before! Some of the Stars you’ll recognize are Anthony Alvarez, Katie Barberi, Rosalinda Rodriguez, Alfredo Huereca, Nicolas Maglione, to name just a few!

I know … I know … I am a late arrival to the telenovela party that has been going on for generations, but ever since I watched my first novela a few years ago (because I knew I’d learn Spanish and have more fun learning the language from telenovelas than from a teacher), I have been devoted to them. You know that I pay close attention to them, and when I watched “Mary for Mayor” I saw a series that is fast, fresh and fun.

The show has many of the qualities you love in your favorite novelas and a terrific cast we recognize from Novelaville but with a new twist: It is bilingual in the exact way many of us are – the characters fall into English as naturally as they speak Spanish, and it just fits. Don’t worry! When a character speaks English, the dialogue is subtitled in Spanish, which not only works perfectly for viewers who are more comfortable with Spanish-language television, but it is also something that is very helpful for someone like me, who is trying to learn the language.

The transitions from Spanish to English (and vice-versa) are seamless, and give the show a very authentic quality. Your ears, your eyes and your heart will love watching Spanish and English just melt into each other.

Mary for Mayor is the story of Mary Ramirez (Tatiana Rodriguez) who lives in Rincon del Rio, a small town in New Mexico, with her husband Ricardo (Anthony Alvarez), and their three children: teenage daughter Paula (Gaby Borges), who spends most of her time reading or yelling at her equally teenage brother Ricky (Xavier Rubalcava) , who spends all of his time recording embarrassing family moments on his cellphone and posting them on Snapchat, and their younger brother Georgie (Nicolas Maglione and his trademark blue glasses!)

You know Mary’s a great mom because when Georgie throws up on her, she is more worried about him than the fact that he actually just threw up on her. It’s a good thing for the family that Mary is such a great mom because Papi is far less interested in his own kids than he is his own toys. And when I say “toys,” I mean other women. To say that Ricardo has a “roving eye” would be incorrect because that phrase suggests his eye is even in sitting an eye-socket. It’s not. That eye never rests. That’s how busy his eye is.

The Premiere of “Mary For Mayor” is equally busy! The show opens with a lot of plot-lines kicking off: Ricardo’s father Mayor Odilon Ramirez (Alfredo Huerca) is about to finally retire, but he is plotting the nomination of his successor so that he can still rule. Rincon may be a small town, but that always makes the Mayor even more important, right? And Rincon may be small, but it’s big enough to have its very own hipster who is also a reporter very wise to the Mayor, who has a bit of a crush on Mary too.

Meanwhile, across town, we are treated to a fiery sermon from Padre Armando (Sebastian Ligarde) while we get the rundown on Rincon del Rio from the long-dead founder of the town, Padre Menudo (Carl Mergenthaler). Apparently, Padre Menudo is up for beatification because he somehow founded a town where everyone is really great-looking, and no one ever gets divorced. Even Padre Menudo was exceptionally handsome, and we know this because as he narrates the opening of the show (from The Great Novela Beyond),he wants us to know two things: That because nothing is more important to the citizens of Rincon del Rio than The Family, no one in the history of the town has ever gotten divorced.

The Padre also wants us to know that the bronze sculpture of him that guards the doors of the only church in town does not do him justice: according to Padre Menudo, he was much better looking.

The show, and the town, are drenched in colors that pop out at you from everywhere, and the local color, in the form of the townspeople, is the same. The tone of “Mary for Mayor” is funny, and if I had to describe the show in only one word, “sly” is the word that comes to mind.

You have to watch the show closely, and I’d recommend watching it twice just because there are a lot of jokes scattered throughout this fast-paced show.

“Mary For Mayor” opens with a bang on two fronts when Mary’s three kids crash a shopping cart into the middle of one of Padre Armando’s awful lectures that are all anti-divorce, and pro- “The Family.” He is very clear: No one in town can get divorced ever. His rapt parishioners may hate each other, but they had better stick it out. The only Divorce Court is in Heaven, and that’s only because someone in dead.

You know who would hate the town of Rincon Del Rio?

Divorce lawyers.

You know who would love the town of Rincon Del Rio?

Funeral Directors.

The other explosion in the show happens at Mary’s house when she comes home early to change clothes for The Mayor’s party and walks in on her husband Ricardo engaged in very athletic and extremely extra-marital sex. It is as this point that you realize this show is going to turn convention on its head: Mary does not scream and yell. There are no tears, knives or guns with cries of “Matame!!” (Not that there’s anything wrong with that…)

Instead, Mary closes the bedroom door behind her, thinks about what she just saw, and realizes that she feels nothing. Absolutely nothing. No anger, no sadness, no homicidal intent. Nothing. Mary’s ambivalence towards her husband runs throughout this episode and is the catalyst for her later, monumental decision. Ricardo does nothing to help his cause when he emerges from the bedroom in a silk lounging robe wearing a cowboy hat which he discreetly moves a bit lower while insincerely apologizing for the “indiscretion” which meant nothing to him. Why? Because The Family is the most important thing in the world to him. And he says this with a straight face.

Mary and Ricardo put his infidelity aside long enough to take the kids to the Abuelo the Mayor’s Garden Party, where he will announce his successor. Well, a different successor, since the one he had in mind died very suddenly after eating over a pound of chocolate. We get our first glimpse into the Royal House of Ramirez at the party, where we watch Mary’s in-laws, Lord and Lady Mayor (Katie Barberi) preside over the townspeople like an off-brand Lord and Lady Crawley from “Downton Abbey.” They may be Rincon’s First Couple, but it’s clear that they think they are Second Coming of President and Nancy Reagan with a touch of Marie Antoinette.

One of the best bits in the show are the visual jokes surrounding this couple: The Mayor presides over Rincon from inside of a life-size replication of The Oval Office, where his desk is covered in bobble-head dolls of the former presidents, and for inspiration, he fondles and gnaws on a Pez dispenser with a Donald Trump head. The walls are lined with paintings of former presidents with the Mayor’s head superimposed on them. When he is not in his Oval Office, he presides over the town’s affairs (and perhaps his own) while sitting in a very lavish chair that comes as close to a throne as a Mayor in Smalltown, USA can get away with.

Katie Barberi is perfect and so funny as his wife, the First Lady of Rincon.

She wears white gloves, Adolfo, and knocks on her own front door so that her maid (wearing a traditional Mexican dress from another century) has to open it and escort her upstairs to bed. This show is so visual, you can watch it with the sound off and you’d be able to follow it, but don’t deprive yourself of the great dialogue too!

Mary is genuinely unsure about what her next move should be. But after watching a few betrayed and sobbing wives humiliated on a “reality” show hosted by a bubbly “La Chapina” (Nadia Escobar),doing some soul-searching, and eating lots of ice cream with her “I’ve Seen It All” mother (Rosalinda Rodriguez, who is fantastic in this series), Mary ends the first episode with a decision that may bring a plague of biblical proportions to Rincon del Rio – she decides to divorce her husband!!

The series takes off from there, with moments of surprise, hilarity, romance, and a few dark moments, too. I don’t want to reveal too much here – but it’s a roller-coaster of novela fun. And the easy give-and-take between Spanish and English feels so natural – it feels exactly how so many of us live our lives. You may speak Spanish to your parents and English to your kids, and somehow it all works out and everyone understands each other! “Mary for Mayor’ is a new kind of novela – and it’s a novela for right now!

To keep up with my sideways views on novelas, follow me on Facebook and Twitter @gringanovelera!

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