As “Senora Acero,” one of the greatest dynasties in Telenovela history, draws to a close, join me for a walk down “Senora Acero”  Bad Memory Lane, because no family was more cursed or better loved, except for maybe The Borgias. Now in it’s 5th and Final Season,  the series will soon be gone forever from our screens, but not from our hearts. Senora Acero had the greatest number of insane characters ever assembled together in one series, and I am going to miss them very much.

The first season was incredible: For example, in the first five minutes of the Premiere, Sara Bermudez’ marriage to Senor Acero was interrupted before they finished their  “I Do’s” by a massacre of the wedding guests in slow-motion, a la the great Will Ferrell movie “Casa de Mi Padre.” The fact that “Casa de Mi Padre” was a parody and Senora Acero was a telenovela only made the scene even more delicious.  Sara’s husband, Senor Acero, was an anti-drug general as well as a very successful Narcotrafficante (a can’t-lose career if there ever was one). Just like those excited brides-to-be who ignore a little too much gambling or flirting by their fiancée, Sara had ignored the gazillion hints that her NarcoGeneral boyfriend  was in the pocket of the cartels:

For example, when El Senor de los Cielos himself, Aurelio Casillas, shows up at one of your barbeques and presents Los Tucanes de Tijuana as your wedding gift, I’d say it’s pretty clear that the only cartel your anti-cartel husband opposes is any cartel he does not run.

As Sara walked down the aisle, the groom was kidnapped and later murdered.  Sara was kidnapped, raped, escaped, and fled into the forest on a white horse, still in her wedding gown.  She also sliced off the fingers of her kidnapper and persistent arch-enemy, El Indio.

And this was before the first commercial break!   

The action never stopped. Sara spent the entire first Season on the run from the forces against her, which included her sisters, her brothers-in-law, and El Indio, all the while trying to save her son’s life, work at the beauty shop/plastic surgery center for the great Rebecca Jones, and launder money for the cartels. We know that Sara learned money-laundering from the ground-up because in the ads, Sara is actually standing next to real washing-machines.

It was only at the end of that incredible first season we learned that the boss of the Tijuana cartel, the wild and crazy El Teca, had put into motion every single plot against Sara. In a diabolical scheme so complicated that only  CIA architects understood it, Teca destroyed everything and everyone in Sara’s life, so that she would have to turn to him for help because there was nowhere else to go. He orchestrated everything from behind the scenes so that Sara would not know she was dancing to his tune, and he did it all from a grotesque mansion with such an awful interior design plan that I almost felt a little sorry for him – that’s  how bad his taste was.

But none of that is even the best part. The best part of this is that Teca did all of it for love –  the unrequited love that he had for Sara since high school, when he was known as El Nopal and drove a crummy car, and she was the prettiest and coolest girl who ruled the school and didn’t even know he was alive.  All of his insanity was to win the love of his high school crush! At last I finally understood why his mansion was stuffed with art and lots of statues he stole from the Vatican.

To say Season 1 came to a spectacular conclusion  when Teca tried to force Sara to marry him by kidnapping her  and her son Salvador while holding a priest at gunpoint, would be an understatement, especially when Teca tried to force Sara to wear a hideous wedding  dress and she didn’t even get to have a wedding shower. In a way, it was like a particularly contentious episode of “Say Yes To The Dress.”

Sara also had invited a surprise guest – the DEA.   Just before the vows, Teca escaped the DEA once again, Sara shot his henchman El Indio and ground a whole raw onion into his mouth with the heel of her wedding stiletto, and then went to prison for a few years.  

I wish I could tell you about all of the fantastic plots, sub-plots and characters in this show.  Pound for pound, Senora Acero had more lunatics than any novela I have ever seen. Ask me about Felipe, the Mayor Who Wanted To Be A Narco, and El Empeñada, The Narco Who Wanted To Be An Anesthesiologist.

And then came Season Two…

In Season 2, little Sal was all grown up, and he was played by Mich “Best Eyebrows In The Business” Duval, who has carried the role until Season 5, when he died in the hospital surrounded by his loved ones, who then  promptly attacked the doctor. I am not sure if Medical Malpractice lawsuits are as prevalent in Mexico as they are here in the USA, but if I was a doctor in a telenovela I would sure prefer a standard lawsuit from an unhappy family than the beat-down at gunpoint they frequently endure from the survivors.  For a Telenovela Doctor, the only subject required for Board Certification is Self-Defense.

 Salvador had a hard life:  Born with Juvenile Diabetes, as a teenager he unfortunately  became a Meth addict after Teca and El Indio surgically implanted a kilo of Meth into his stomach which exploded. But his perfectly arched and luxurious eyebrows helped him overcome many obstacles.

Meanwhile, El  Teca, a classic underachiever in high school, really hit his stride as a murderous, wacky Narcotrafficante in  Season 2. Whereas in Season 1 Teca had devoted himself to secretly manipulating the life of his unrequited high-school crush  to get her exactly where he wanted her: either at their wedding or at her funeral, in Season 2, Sara learned the price for ditching Teca at the altar:  spending a lot more time with him, and his adult son Mini-Teca. Sara learned quickly that Two Tecas were Two Tecas too Many!

The end of Season 2 saw the loss of beloved characters like Senora Acero herself, and El Quintanilla, Sara’s BFF and  eventual brother-in-law who married La Chepina, Sara’s sister. Quintanilla was a fun and tragic figure, Falstaffian in his appetites for both  life and John Travolta’s wardrobe from “Saturday Night Fever.” One of his greatest pleasures in his life was having a BBQ like any suburban dad; he even wore a “Kiss The Chef” apron over his disco-suits. One of his greatest disappointments in life was learning that his nephew El Gallo was really his son, and that his new son was sleeping with his new wife.   But El Quintanilla kept a pretty positive attitude, right up until that moment when Teca killed him in a hotel room.

In Season 2, many of the supporting characters came  into their own. One of my favorite moves was by the actor Roberto Wohlmuth who in Season 1  played a henchman named “El Mudo” who was killed. Roberto returned in Season 2 as Mudo’s twin brother El Roscas!  In every season Roscas became more important. We could tell he was becoming more important because he stopped dressing like his boss El Indio and started to develop a fashion sense of his own.

By Season 4 Roscas had left the Tijuana Cartel and had gone to work for my hero, La Tuti and El Mero Mero Romero, who was another son of El Teca, who by now was missing in action.  Teca’s absence from Seasons 3 & 4 allowed other stars to shine, like Jorge Zárate as El Indio. El Indio was a crowd favorite who managed to parlay an appetite for raw onions, Nik-Nik shirts, funny sayings and missing digits into Must-See T.V. And of course there was no one like “Tuti,” played by Ana Lucia Dominguez. In Season 1 Tuti was a small-time pill dealer who hung out with teenagers and Barbie dolls.  By Season 5, Tuti was the emotional core of the show, despite the fact that she ran a strip club and still played with Barbies. I could never do this phenomenal character justice. Not only does Ana Lucía deserve a very special Premios for this role, but the actors who played against her deserve a Premios for keeping a straight face. She stole every scene she was in, and I will miss mi Tuti forever!

El Indio’s relentless pursuit of Senora Acero even after Senora Acero was no longer on Senora Acero led him to destroy the paradise that   Salvador, Vicenta and the rest of the mishpachah created on the ranch where they laundered money and sold  arms to major bad guys.

In Season 3, the Acero/Quintanilla clan had problems with enemies like  Indio, Indio’s Frenemy Larry, Larry’s rival El Roscas, the Very Handsome Guy From Argentina Who Was Obsessed With Aracely, The Evil Governor Who Was Also Sal’s Ex-Father-In-Law, and The Evil  Governor’s Mother-in-Law, just to name a few. Good characters became bad and bad characters became good, and in-laws were always a problem.

And as the Clan moved from money laundering and arms to rescuing migrants and running for office, they became Narco Avengers, fighting for Truth, Justice, and for the opportunity to have  just one Not-Cursed Wedding.

But that was not to be:  In Season 3 we lost one of our favorite characters:  “Areceli,” (Litzy) who was killed at her own wedding. Araceli was one of the characters who really evolved over the seasons: In Season 1 she was a semi-prostitute, a drug addict, and a beautician. In Season 2 she was a famous singer and a great spy.  And in Season 3 she signed her Death Warrant when she said “Yes” to Dorriga’s marriage proposal.

Seasons 4 and 5 focused on a new generation:  The Quintanilla/Acero Clan became a heavily-armed political campaign. Vicenta still worked on behalf of migrants and killed her fiancé when she accepted his marriage proposal.  We saw the last of Indio when basically, the Clan drove his body into the side of a mountain using a crane. And Mi Tuti’s son (Teca’s grandson) left Catholic school in Spain, reunited with his grandfather Teca when Teca kidnapped him, and is nowdiscovering his murderous roots (something not contemplated by “Ancestry DNA”) as the show ends.

You can’t make a show this great without tremendous writers:  Roberto Stopello, Indira Paez, Amaris Paez, Sergio Mendoza, Juan Manuel Andrade, José Vicente Spataro, Gabriella Caballero are just a few of the writers who have brought us this tremendous show through the years, and it was directed by Miguel Varoni, who can simply do everything – he is a telenovela Renaissance Man.  Join me as I say Goodbye to some of the most fun friends I have every had!

To learn more of my sideways views on telenovelas, follow me here and everywhere @gringanovelera &!


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