The Most Meta- Moment In My Life? Easy. I Was A Character In A Telenovela!!

All I wanted to do was learn Spanish from watching a telenovela- and somehow I became a character in one!!

As the hit FashionRomanceTelenovela “Betty En New York” has come to an end with SPECTACULAR ratings, things are just starting to heat up here in Mexico City, where the ratings for this fun and funny show are always #1 in it’s time slot.

Could these fantastic ratings be because I am actually a character in the show, thanks to Sandra Velasco, Luis Mi, Alejandro Vergara, Valentina Del Rosario Parraga and Lizandra Parra!

Yes, “Sofia” is represented in her divorce by Marcela’s good friend, “the Best Lawyer in the USA, “Karen Kerbis from Chicago!”

My favorite part of being a lawyer in this Novela is that just as it was when I actually was a lawyer in Chicago, my advice comes from watching telenovelas, because “Law and Order” was too unrealistic.

Here I am!!

I’m “Karen Kerbis, the Lawyer from Chicago!!”

Of course, I was very lucky to be played by the wonderful actress Lizandra Parra!

And doubly-lucky to have Amaranta Ruiz for my client!!! ❤️❤️

I will never forget that this happened to me!!

Muchas muchas gracias!!

😘😘😘😘

“Santa Diabla” Is On Again In México!!!

Hello! Today is Sunday July 21 and I’m coming to you LIVE from Mexico City!!

As most of you know I moved here from Chicago about six weeks ago to write the telenovela of my dreams, having been so inspired by the telenovelas I started watching just a few years ago. At first, it was just a crazy experiment, one of the many dangers of living in Chicago during a winter of Thundersnow.

But almost immediately, telenovelas, and writing about telenovelas, became my true passion and eventually led me here, to live in Mexico.

The first telenovela I ever wrote daily summaries about was “Santa Diabla,” by Jose Ignacio “El Chascas” Valenzuela

on Telemundo.

In #SantaDiabla, nothing was as it seemed, and that was not because I didn’t speak Spanish! The plot of “Santa Diabla” was that a woman named Santa Martinez pretended to be a woman named “Amanda Braun,” so she could marry Humberto Cano (and basically into the whole mean and crazy Cano family) in order to obtain her revenge on him and his family for framing her beloved husband Willy for rape and killing him in prison, but then right after Santa married Humberto, she met his saxaphone-playing, perenially-sad brother Santiago, and fell in love with him.

And then things became super-complicated and mysterious and funny after that.

I never missed one episode of the novela and

I wrote summaries of the show every night!

I did that all on my original Facebook page called “La Gringa Novelera,” and my real name was nowhere to be found.

After Santa Diabla ended, I continued to write about telenovelas daily.

A couple of years after I started, Facebook, even though they helped Russia help elect Trump, took a firm stand on my Facebook page, and insisted I change the Page to my name, so I did.

My telenovela-sensei Irma Lopez had the foresight to help me save my old posts chronicalling “Santa Diabla,” and I found them recently!

And now that here in Mexico, Telemundointl is showing “Santa Diabla” again, I thought I’d resurrect these old posts that I wrote about the show, timing them to the episode that’s playing .

The series just started about two weeks ago, and here’s what’s happened so far:

Santa, pretending to be Amanda, has already married Humberto, drugged him during their honeymoon so she could escape and go visit her son in the hospital, fallen in love with his brother Santiago, got her mom a job as a maid in the Cano house but no one knows it’s her mom; got her sister-in-law Paula a job as a legal secretary at Humberto’s law firm but no one is supposed to know they are related, the idea being to destroy the Cano family from the inside-out.

Meanwhile, Humberto’s sex-machine mistress Lisette is back in town, with their 18-year old son Ivan who Humberto just met for the first time. Meanwhile, another guy in town named Arturo who’s terrified of his racist mother who I call Mrs. Trump, but still wants her to support him, is too afraid to tell his mother that his girlfriend Mara is African-American, so he proposes to Lisette because his mother promised him a lot of money if he’d settle down and get married and give her a grandchild. Even though Lisette is Humberto mistress and lives off of the men she’s involved with, she is a more acceptable daughter-in-law to Mrs. Trump that Mara, who is beautiful, kind, hard-working, honest but African-American.

And in another part of town, The Robledo Family, BFF’s and law-partners with the Canos, have their own set of problems in the form of the madcap and sociopath daughter “Ines,” who is my favorite character on the whole show. Ines has also just returned from somewhere (The Psychiactric Ward?), and instantaneously fell in love with Santiago Cano, except Santiago is already madly in love with Amanda/Santa, who just married his brother Humberto.

Ines was played by the great Ximena Duque – who stole the whole show!!!!!

Got it??????????

Don’t worry – you will!!!

So I am going to try to re-post each one of these old posts to follow along with the series in repeats here in Mexico.

I am not changing or fixing anything, except for typos.

I missed a lot as I wrote my daily summaries of the show a few years ago, and got a lot of things wrong. But I think that made it fun and funny for me!

Let’s see how this experiment goes….

——————————————————————–

(From 21 August 2013)

Hola y buenos noches!

Ok, so “Santa Diabla” was very good tonight, but tomorrow looks even better because it involves a very telling DVD played at the Grand Opening of Humbertp’s new club, with all of the Cano (synonymous with “evil, except for Santiago) family and friends there, so this will cause much embarrassment for the Cano clan! I don’t know what’s on the DVD, but it’s gonna be good!!

Jorge (pronounced “George,” as per George) continues to try to kill his poor (but rich) father-in-law Mr Cano with poisoned Scotch, but Mr Cano knows something is up, so he poured a big glass for George too, poured one for himself, and made a toast. George panicked, dropped his tumbler full of poison scotch, and ran out of the room!

Mr Cano then smiled, and said something I did not understand any of because I DON’T SPANISH!!

For the same exact reason, I cannot tell if Barbara Cano (George’s wife and Humbertos sister) is in on the plot to murder her father.

Humberto and Santa have been married for about 72 hours, and already she has drugged him to get away to visit her secret son who was sick in the hospital, and made out with his brother Santiago at least twice.

But she can be forgiven because she only married Umberto to destroy his family to avenge her husband’s false imprisonment and true murder at the hands of most of the Cano family.

On the other hand, Umberto has already hooked up with his treacherous former mistress and mother of his (grown) son, the always-evil Lisette.

Who is supposed to marry Albert…

————————————————————–

Can’t wait to see what happens tomorrow!!

My Favorite Street In México City

What’s better than a big street that goes in a big circle??

Here’s Episode 3 of my new podcast!

https://anchor.fm/karen-kerbis/episodes/Theres-Nothing-Better-Than-A-Big-Street-That-Goes-In-A-Big-Circle-e48o75

There’s No Law Lesson Like A Telenovela Law Lesson!

Are you watching “Falsa Identidad” on Telemundo?

Because it’s a lot of fun, plus you could learn a lot about the law! Which is basically the opposite of law school.

So Circe and her friend wanted to scare the Battle-Axe on the right, I guess because she’s about to expose Camila and Diego for stealing her identity.

Part of her identity is being mean and unpleasant, but remember that Diego and Camila were on the run from the even more mean and unpleasant Gavino when Diego’s Brother The Mayor and his Guy El Salas gave Camila her identity. (If Diego has The Mean Woman’s Husband’s Identity, he will want to get out of that relationship right away!)

So Circe and her friend dressed up like maids to pay a visit to the REAL Camila to “scare” her.

I’ll be honest- if Circe showed up in my hotel room I’d be terrified, and I’d double my tip.

Circe’s co-worker accidentally on purpose killed the woman by stabbing her in the neck.

They dragged her into the shower and left her to be found, thinking it would look like a suicide, because I guess in Circe’s world, people frequently stab themselves in the neck to avoid talking to her, her father and/or Joselito.

Well, The Real Camila was found by her friend on the left, and even though all he did was find her, he was promptly arrested for Murder!

As a former prosecutor, if the standard for proof is that low, I would love to be a Prosecutor in Novelaville! I might have won more often!

But I’ll tell you what: If the standard for proof is that low, remind me to never tell the police about any dead bodies I may come across in my travels.

This poor guy is now charged with Murder!

I want to be his lawyer and here is why: It’s SUPER easy apparently!

When this guy asked the detective for his lawyer, the detective stopped questioning him, which is very good behavior by the detective.

When he returned to the Interrogation Room a few minutes later, the prisoner asked “Where’s my lawyer??”

The detective took the lawyer’s card out of his pocket, with a message to the prisoner on the back of the card that told him to “Plead Guilty to Avoid The Death Penalty.”

That’s it!!

If lawyers here see this bit, they will be ordering new business cards by the truckload! 😂😂😂😂

Join me on my journey learning Spanish from telenovelas on Telemundo!! I’m about to move to Mexico City!!

S

WATCHING “SENORA ACERO” COME TO AN END IS LIKE LEAVING A FUN PARTY FILLED WITH GREAT-LOOKING GUESTS WITH TERRIBLE JUDGEMENT, WHO NEVER CALL 911!

It’s very tough to say goodbye to the great SuperCrazyNarcoNovela “Senora Acero,” on Telemundo, but sadly, this is the last season!!

Que LASTIMA!!

Please join me for a trip down Bad Memory Lane in my latest article for Latin Connection Magazine, a tribute to five seasons of madness in Señora Acero!!

Saying goodbye to the crew is like being at a super fun party with your best friends, who are the perfect combination of good looks and terrible judgement!!

The magazine is available on line, and here’s the article!

@LatinConnection is all about living the Latino lifestyle in the USA, and in addition to my Telenovela news, there is a lot more news you can use!!

Doctors Gone Wild!!!

Que tal!

By the time you read this article, Summer will be in its Ultimos Capitulos.

One of the great things about telenovelas is that they are seasonless. What is happening on-screen in your novela of the moment has nothing to do with the actual moment you’re living in. (Except for when in “Senora Acero” the Narco & Gunrunner El Gallito, running for Mayor, pledged to “Make Matamoros Great Again.”)

We don’t watch telenovelas to see what’s happening in our own world; we watch them to see what happens when impossibly beautiful people, impeccably dressed, highly accessorized and usually armed, make really bad decisions and never call 911 for help. Last month, I explained how the telenovela lawyers not only can’t do much to help fix a bad decision, but they usually make them even worse. I’m so proud that I received a lot of great reviews for that article – many from other lawyers in Chicago who had no idea that being a lawyer could be as much fun as it is in a telenovela. I assured them it was, as long as they were willing to ignore the law and start dressing a lot fancier. And on top of the very kind reviews and comments, I received something even better: A Request!

The Request came from woman who I admire very much, one who really knows the telenovela business from the inside out. What was her request? My take on telenovela doctors! Que?! COMO?!? First Lawyers… now the Doctors… two of our oldest professions might never look the same to you again!

Mi Amiga, this is for you!

If I was a doctor in a telenovela, the first thing I would ask myself is whether all of the student loans, debt, and divorce from the spouse who put me through medical school was worth it. I know what you are thinking – that doctors here in the Real World are asking themselves the same thing. True, except that in the Real World, the doctors aren’t examining their lives because a guy wearing a gigantic cowboy hat with an even bigger belt buckle has kidnapped him at gunpoint to operate on a shot-up compadre in the back of a gas station bathroom.

I never knew how dangerous medicine could be until I started watching telenovelas. Well, I always knew it was dangerous for the patients, but in telenovelas, it’s the doctors who are on the wrong side of the argument. In telenovelas, there are Good Doctors and Bad Doctors. And doctors that have received no medical training at all, who are the Best Doctors, if you ask me.

The Good Doctors are the doctors who are literally minding their own business, making sure that their malpractice premiums are current, when the door to their office bursts open, a gang of NarcoTerrorists march in, and put a gun to his or her head, demanding that the doctor joins them for an unexpected House Call. This House Call can take place anywhere, but it is usually on a couch in the living room of a total stranger who is also being held at gunpoint to provide shelter to the gang. However, that surgery-at-gunpoint can also take place in the in-house hospital suite many Narcos have built right into their home. A Narco’s house has a lot of room to build out the spaces we generally don’t see in real estate: specifically, the hospital suite, a swimming pool inside of the living room, and a jail cell in the basement. The reason for this is because a Narco has a lot of freedom inside of his house, but can’t ever leave it, unless it is to travel secretly to a house that looks just like the one he just left, which he will also never leave. I know this is off-topic, but I don’t see the point in all of the drama and danger that goes along with the Life of a Narco if you can’t go out for a hot dog once in a while.

So the people that work for the Narcos will do anything to save El Jefe’s life, but one thing they always forget about is The Sterile Field. No, I’m not a doctor. But I have watched enough medical shows on TV to practice medicine with an FCC license, and I have learned that The Sterile Field is the field in a the Operating Room you have to keep sterile. But in a telenovela Operating Room, the guys who have kidnapped the doctor and are forcing him to operate at gunpoint not only break the sterile field by not scrubbing in, but they make things worse when they drag extra unnecessary people into the operating room, like the doctor’s wife and children and mother-in-law, who they have also brought into the operating room at gunpoint, to make sure the doctor does a good job.

I’m not making this up: I have seen this scene more than once in the Granddaddy Of ‘Em All: “El Senor de los Cielos.” In ESDLC, Good Doctors are regularly dragged in to repair gunshot wounds or rustled up to perform emergency reconstructive plastic surgery (to change NarcoIdentities), with their terrified family members watching while they are menaced by NarcoThugs, which is counter-intuitive, if you ask me. Trembling hands and extra bodies in the operating room do not promote a quick recovery, and in the USA, health insurance companies would never allow it.

The Bad Doctors are the doctors who are totally in on The Game. They are basically Narcos Who Went To Medical School. The best example of a Bad Doctor that I can give you is from the novelas “Sin Senos No/Si Hay Paraíso.” Now in its third season, the plots of the show have changed a lot, but originally, the series was about poor girls in small towns in Colombia who tragically can only see a way out of a dead-end life by having reconstructive surgery to attract a Narco, to then live what they think will be the high life. Almost always, the reconstructive surgery was breast implants; hence, the title of the show.

This was such a common practice in the show that at least one of the Narcos, El Gato Gordo, had a mini-hospital in his home (including a Gift Shop), with a full medical staff going round-the-clock. His hospital only had one patient – Catalina La Pequena – who Gato Gordo had drugged and kidnapped, and then forced to undergo breast-implant surgery. She had to stay in his hospital until she had fully recovered from the surgery. The only bright side was that she was not billed for any of it. Gato had the help of a Bad Doctor who did the surgery and supervised the recovery. The Bad Doctor did a great job, but got the axe (literally) when he fell in love with Catalina too.

If you are a doctor who performs unnecessary breast-implant surgery against the will of the patient in the basement hospital of a Narco whose name translates to “Fat Cat,” you probably should have paid more attention to the Ethics Lectures in medical school.

One thing the Good Doctors and Bad Doctors have in common is this: They are always being threatened that if they do not cure the patient, they will be killed. This is a much better incentive to practice good medicine than medical malpractice lawsuits.

Wondering what the doctors just leading the lives of regular doctors are doing in telenovelas? Well, they are wandering around making house calls (!) and only ever delivering two bits of news that are ALWAYS cataclysmic: “You Are Pregnant!” OR “You Can Never Have Children…” That keeps them very busy.

So who are The Best Doctors in a telenovela?

They are the people who perform complicated medical procedures, but are not doctors. You can find them in almost any NarcoNovela, because no one needs constant access to health care more than a Narco. Most recently, in ESDLC6, Aurelio’s half-brother Amado found Aurelio all shot up in a boxing gym in Mexico City, and gave him a blood transfusion USING HIS OWN BLOOD in the locker room with no equipment, and without sepsis setting in. And while chewing gum the whole time.

But the Very Best Examples of The Best Doctors were in the FABULOUS telenovela “Santa Diabla.” If you have never seen this novela, where have you been? You need to watch it now. It was tangled up in fantastic characters engaged in absolutely wild plots, and full of The Best Doctors:

Want to see a Crazy/Beautiful, young woman who can (without anesthesia) remove the bullet from Willy Delgado, the man her father was holding prisoner in his basement, AFTER she shot him AFTER she forced him to have sex with her while he was still chained up, and then post-surgery carry him upstairs? Yep! Ximena Duque’s “Preciosa” was not only a skilled surgeon, but like an ant, she could also carry a hundred million times her own body weight. And where did the gunshot would victim recover? In the bedroom of the kindly prostitute who ran the local bordello. She changed the bandages and somehow hooked up an IV in between hookups.

“Santa Diabla” also had it’s own Telenovela “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman:” The wacky old lady who Lived In A Van Down By The River, and showed no signs of having lived in a civilized society, let alone having attended medical school. She found Santiago (Aaron Diaz) floating down the river, near-dead: shot, drowned, and all beat-up. After anesthetizing herself with a bottle of whiskey, she removed the bullets with her (unsterilized) fingers, sewed him up with catgut (still inside of the cat), and he survived. Unfortunately, Dr. Quinn did not, but you’ll have to watch the series to find out why…

Just like Telenovela Lawyers, no Doctor has as much fun in real life as they do in telenovelas. And if you ask me, the same can be said for all of us. There is no life that is as much fun as the Telenovela Life!

For more of my sideways views on telenovelas, join me daily on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @gringanovelera, or follow my blog Lagringanovelera.me!

Want To Be A Prosecutor?Skip Law School And Watch Telenovelas!

TELENOVELA PROSECUTORS THROUGH THE AGES:

What’s Law Got To Do With It??

———————————————-/

Que tal!

When I started learning Spanish from telenovelas, I was usually very wrong about everything. In fact, I was so dazed and confused during the first month of La Patrona on Telemundo that I thought Antonia and Alejandro were a rich, unhappily married couple with no children, and that Antonia hated Alejandro SO MUCH that the gigantic family portrait over the fireplace only included her. “Thank goodness they didn’t bring any children into this unhappy marriage,” I thought.

And then one day I realized that they had no children because they weren’t married: they were mother and son. Why Alejandro did not get his own apartment is a question for another day, but clearly, there no room in my fevered brain to figure out the subtleties of the show.

But as time went on and I understood more and more every day, I came to really love the courtroom scenes in La Patrona, and in all of the telenovelas I watch to this day. The courtroom hijinx in a telenovela would make the whole world want to go to law school, if only court could actually be as crazy and as much fun. And as a prosecutor in in the criminal courts of Chicago, I love watching what my fellow Novela prosecutors get up to.

For example, in “La Patrona,” the prosecutor (Ricardo) was a pretty decent guy with a gigantic Crucifix in his office, which is kind of unusual for government work. He was only able to have sex with women he wasn’t married to, which is usually something we see in celebrities and professional athletes, but in Ricardo’s case it was because his father had convinced him that his mother had abandoned him to run away with the Tennis Pro, when in reality Ricardo’s father had had The Mrs. imprisoned in the local Asylum for the Criminally Insane, so he could spend all of her money on hookers, Tequila, and his Senate campaign. Ricardo retired from the Prosecutor’s Office to defend his mother of trying to kill his father after she escaped from the Asylum.

Of course he did.

In “Eva La Trailera,” Sofia Lama played “Betty,” a prosecutor so in love with Eva’s boyfriend Pablo that Betty prosecuted Eva for a murder which Betty knew Eva didn’t commit, scared all of Eva’s witnesses, conspired with the Real Killer to see that Eva was convicted, lost her job when her bosses found out about it, and then pregnant and broke, moved in with Pablo’s family even though no one invited her.

In “El Senor de los Cielos,” Erika de la Rosa played “Elsa,” the Very Special Prosecutor assigned to prosecute Don El Chema, who was supposed to be El Chapo. Elsa is one of my favorite prosecutors for a couple of reasons: Number 1, I don’t even think Elsa was a lawyer. I think that her parents were big campaign contributors to El Presidente, and basically paid him to take her off of their hands. Elsa gave me hope: She showed us that having no working knowledge of the law was not an impediment to a successful prosecution. Number 2, Elsa was dating Chema at the same time she was prosecuting him. When I met Erika at a Telemundo event, and gushed about how much I learned from Elsa about being a prosecutor, Erika quickly excused herself and called for “Security.”

And then, in the next season of “El Senor de Los Cielos,” Alejandro de la Madrid played Ignacio, a serious and honest prosecutor who became so frustrated by his inability to convict any drug kingpins that he assembled a team of the prettiest women in the office and they formed a Hit Squad, assassinating everyone who was acquitted, which is another way to go. Usually, in law enforcement, when a team of the prettiest women are recruited, it is because someone is assembling a softball team.

ESDLC is an embarrassment of riches of fantastic prosecutors. Now, in Season 6 of the series, we are treated to another great prosecutor from whom we can learn a lot – Nora Requena, played by Maria Conchita Alonso.

Nora has come from New York to extradite El Senor himself – Aurelio Casillas. I love that Nora gets to go to the country from which she is extraditing the criminal. If this happened in real life, we would all be looking to Italy for our defendants. Usually, a successful extradition requires that the prosecutor complete hundreds of documents exactly right, and then hope the host country agrees with us. But in ESDLC6, Nora has the right idea – Go right to the country harboring the criminal to make your case in person, and take a private plane to get there. Nora acts like she is on vacation, and the DEA agents in Mexico are the hotel valets.

Right before she left for Mexico, Nora had just pulled the plug on her husband, literally. Once her husband drew his last breath, Nora left the hospital for Mexico City, and left the hospital staff with her husband’s jewelry driver’s license and his body, telling them she was finally “free.” Well, she is certainly free from all medical and burial expenses.

Nora then flew into CDMX on a private jet. One thing I have learned from telenovelas of any type is that if there is a prosecutor hanging around, that prosecutor leads a pretty glamorous life. They have a driver, they boss the judge around, and they usually have an office filled with antiques, Oriental rugs, and religious objects. Although we haven’t seen her office yet, I am sure Nora is no exception to this rule. My proof? She carries a fan. A fan.

It never occurred to me to use a fan before, but now I don’t know how I practiced law for so long without one.

A fan is something I could use very effectively in closing arguments, as long as no one ever bursts into the song “Lady of Spain.” And when I say “no one,” I mean me. Or as long as I don’t develop a southern accent and call in sick because I have “the vapors.” At least I need to find out what “the vapors” are, exactly. Now that I think about it, I could do a lot of damage with a fan, and most of it would be self-inflicted.

In ESDLC, once Nora and her entourage landed, DEA chief Joe Navarro picked her up at the airport and took Nora right to a meeting at the Mexico City offices of the DEA. With her piercing glare, fan and gigantic glasses, Nora made everyone in the meeting nervous, maybe because they never saw a prosecutor use a fan before.

The DEA wants Nora to ask Mexico to please extradite Aurelio, and Carla The Journalist was there to impress upon Nora the importance of shipping Aurelio to the USA, except Carla had just hooked up with Aurelio the night before and was clearly conflicted about sending Aurelio to the USA when she needed a date for a family wedding coming up.

Their strategy was to show Nora the video shot the day that Aurelio took over the news station, where he broadcast that even though he was the world’s biggest cartel boss, he was still better than the crooked bosses of Mexico.

Nora is really one cool customer.

After watching the tape, she announced that the tape was not evidence of anything.

Nora’s statement, and her rejection of charges, rocked my world.

I have always thought that a confession is pretty important evidence.

But Nora disagrees and I think she called it “television gossip,” as if Aurelio’s broadcast was a bad episode of “The Bachelor.”

I’ll be honest.

If I was trying this case, I would have charged him, queued up that tape, hit “Play” on the DVD player, lit a cigarette, and when the tape was over I would have announced “State Rests.”

But no, not according to Nora.

Even with a confession made to the entire country of Mexico which no one could ever complain was coerced because it was Aurelio himself who took over the whole television station at gunpoint just so he could make this statement, the work is just beginning, according to Nora. This could be true, or it could also be that Nora wants to extend her trip to Mexico.

The DEA was disappointed, but perked up when Nora tried to get everyone to go out drinking, which shows that the DEA in Mexico City is like every other prosecutor’s office around the USA.

Only Joe agreed to go, even though Nora appeared to be buying.

Nora came well-equipped to take care of prosecutor business. She is armed with an evening gown, gigantic glasses, and fans to match every outfit. Is this a homage to Novelaville’s Greatest Villainess Catalina Creel, who had an eye patch to match every one of her dresses, even though most of her dresses were made out of the same fabric as the curtains? Time will tell.

All I know right now is that I wish Telemundo could offer credit for Continuing Legal Education for teaching us how to be better prosecutors from telenovelas!

For more of my sideways views of telenovelas, please follow me here, and @gringanovelera on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and on “Latin Connection” magazine!

Gringa Novelera

Latin Connection Magazine

“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!

Building A Better Prosecutor By Watching “El Senor De Los Cielos”

Follow me here as I learn how to be a better prosecutor from Maria Conchita Alonso’s character, New York prosecutor Nora Requena, in the NarcoNovela “El Senor de los Cielos!”

It’s only been three nights of Continuing Legal Education From Prosecutor Nora Requena in the Telemundo NarcoNovela “El Senor de Los Cielos,” and already I have learned more than I learned in three years of law school!

I am closely following her character to learn how to be a better prosecutor. If this works, I may have invented a better way to get Continuing Legal Education credit!

Nora (Maria Conchita Alonso) is in Mexico because she just pulled the plug on her husband, literally, and also at the request of theDEA Mexico City Chief, the always angry and impatient, 3-piece-suit wearing, vest-loving Joe Lazaro, played by Guy Ecker. (When Guy played the police chief in the old t.v. show “Las Vegas,” which was a Very Guilty Pleasure, he wore more open-collared shirts and was much more relaxed. But in #ESDLC he is angry all of the time, which might have something to do with wearing a collar and tie all of the time. Who wouldn’t be cranky?)

So when we meet up with Nora in her third episode, she is right where we left her – making everyone in the meeting nervous.

The DEA (minus Corina, who was busy stirring it up at Aurelio’s house), and Aurelio’s latest conquest Carla the Crusading Journalist, were all there to convince Nora to extradite Aurelio to the USA, although it was clear that Carla was having second thoughts because she needed a date for a wedding that was coming up.

Their strategy was to show Nora the video taken the day that Aurelio took over the news station and announced that even though he was the world’s biggest cartel boss, he was still better than the crooked bosses of Mexico.

Nora, played by Maria Conchita Alonso, is really one cool customer.

After watching the tape where Aurelio admitted all of his crimes to the audience (and it was not even Sweeps week), Nora announced that the tape was not evidence of anything.

Nora’s statement, and her rejection of charges, rocked my world.

I have always thought that a confession is pretty important evidence.

But Nora disagrees and I think she called it “television gossip” as though Aurelio’s broadcast was a bad episode of “The Batchelor.”

I’ll be honest.

Until I heard Nora’s remarkable assessment, if I was trying this case, I would charges him, hit “Play,” on the DVD player, lit a cigarette, and when the tape was over I would have announced “State Rests.”

But no, not according to Nora.

Even with a confession made to the entire country of Mexico which no one could ever complain was coerced because it was Aurelio himself who took over the whole tv station at gunpoint just so he could make this statement, there is no resting, and the work is just beginning, according to Nora.

The DEA was disappointed, but perked up when Nora tried to get everyone to go out drinking, which shows that the DEA in Mexico City is like every other prosecutor’s office around the USA.

Only Guy agreed to go, even though Nora appeared to be buying.

As they were leaving, Corina showed up.

I thought Nora would see through Corina with what I am sure are x-ray specs, and that she and Corina would be natural enemies, like the Snake and the Nongoose.

But Nora was so unexpectedly kind and charming to Corina that Corina (channeling her inner Sally Field) actually said to Deputy Chief Colon, ”See, she likes me! She really likes me!”

This has clearly never happened to Corina before.

After Nora left the offices of the DEA, Deputy Chief Colon told Corina he is worried and thinks that Nora is there to investigate them.

But Corina does not care because she has a new friend in Nora.

Wait until her new BFF Nora meets Corina’s boyfriend Aurelio and her old BFF El Rojito.

So what lesson did we learn from Nora last night?

What decisions did Nora make that will help us to be better prosecutors?

Well, that a “confession is not evidence, apparently.

Her views of confessions as gossip is interesting, but the real lesson, if you ask me,

is that as prosecutors we should strive to

create a mood of so much confusion and craziness that half of the room thinks you’re investigating them,

and the other half wants to go out drinking with you.

And of course our Nora was taking a page right out of Don Corleone’s book with her approach to Corina – “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

Don’t miss these valuable legal lessons from Prosecutor Nora Requena, tonight and every night in “El Senor de Los Cielos” on Telemundo!

DAY 2: LEARNING HOW TO BE A BETTER PROSECUTOR WITH “EL SENOR DE LOS CIELOS!”

I am following the Adventures of New York prosecutor “Nora Requena,” played by Maria Conchita Alonso in the SuperNarcoNovela “El Senor de Los Cielos,” to learn how to be a better prosecutor! And I’ll be telling you all about it here!

And I am working hard to get us Continuing Legal Education credit for watching the show!

One thing I have learned from telenovelas of any type is that if there is a prosecutor hanging around, that prosecutor leads a pretty glamorous life: They have a driver; they can boss the judge around, and they usually have an office filled with antiques, Renaissance paintings and shrines to La Virgincita, something you don’t normally see in government work.

Since this is only the prosecutor La Fiscal Nora Requena’s second day on “El Senor de Los Cielos,” plus she is from NYC and only visiting Mexico, we have not seen her office yet.

However, there is no shortage of glamour for this VIP***. (*** – Very Important Prosecutor).

When we first saw Nora in yesterday’s episode, she was striding off of a private jet that had just landed in Mexico City, where she was met by the dashing and angry Joe Lazaro, the DEA chief in Mexico City who has somehow managed to figure out a way to yell at people through a clenched jaw.

When Nora tells Joe that her husband of twenty years has just died (leaving out the part about pulling the plug and leaving his corpse to science. Or whoever at the hospital wants it), Joe tells her he is sorry, and Nora responds, “I’m not.” Which Joe does not find odd at all, maybe because he’s already thinking about making a move on Nora since she’s already been in Mexico for approximately 7 seconds, and Corina needs a stepmother who can keep her in line.

Nora then climbs in the heavily-armed SUV with heavier-tinted windows, and she is whisked away to the DEA office in CDMX.

OK, as prosecutors, let’s unpack this scene.

First of all, when prosecutors travel for work we ride in whatever is lower than Economy Class, known as Sub-Economy Class, which usually involves standing for the entire flight.

Second of all, we never get to go to foreign countries, but instead we attend out-of state conferences in places like Arizona in the summer and Albany in the winter.

No one ever meets us at the plane. Instead, we stumble off with our too-heavy carry-ons. bleary, dreary, sleep-deprived, in desperate need of food, drink and a bathroom. Or put it another way, we disembark looking just like every other airline passenger.

There is no private car with tinted glass waiting for us at the airport. Here’s what usually happens instead: Some people try to get the whole group to go with public transportation or a shuttle service. A few jet-lagged people go with them, and the rest share cabs, during which period at least two people will claim they haven’t “exchanged their dollars” yet, so could someone else pay for them (ignoring the fact we are still in the USA and still using US currency; and one or two more people will announce they don’t have any change, so could someone else pay for them, with vows (always broken) of repayment.

Then when everyone is reunited at the hotel, someone somewhat cheap will introduce the idea of “The Kitty.” This is a shared fund for food, drinks and transportation into which everyone will contribute equally but some will deplete much faster than others, but then everyone has to “refresh” The Kitty by repeatedly putting more money into it.

At this point, the only thing a prosecutor’s trip for work has in common with #ESDLC is the potential for violence created by the resentment which is fueled by The Kitty.

Back to Nora The Telenovela Prosecutor…

After the luxurious SUV with the tinted windows whisks Nora away from the private plane, we don’t see her for awhile. Then, we meet her again in the very fancy and sleek offices of the DEA, where she is in a gigantic conference room with equipment right out of the movie “Minority Report” lining the walls.

Let the glaring and sideways glances begin:

Here’s who is in the meeting with  Nora: Joe Navarro – Chief of the DEA in Mexico, his Vice-President of the DEA Guillermo Colon, Bernardo Castillo-Chief of Security in Mexico, and Carla Uzcategui, the anti-cartel reporter who is now dating Aurelio Casillas (although she claims they are not dates, they are just kidnappings.)

As Navarro went around the table room introducing them, for each person in the room, when Joe announced their job title, the expression on Nora’s face was “I’ll be the judge of that,” which not only made me doubt whether I had understood correctly who these cast members were supposed to be, but it was clear even the cast members doubted themselves for a moment when they saw her skeptical response. Maybe Castillo really ISN’T the Chief of Security for the whole country of Mexico, after all?

Of course, Nora and Carla instantly hated each other on sight, as only two women who want to be the most popular woman in the room can hate each other. And somehow, I think Nora already knows that Carla hooked up with Aurelio the night before, where she literally and figuratively let her hair down.

Now that Nora has shaken everyone’s confidence in their own job titles, clearly her work is done for the day. Let’s see what havoc she wreaks tonight!!

And here is what I learned from Nora last night:

Striding anywhere with confidence gets you a much better chance of getting a driver, and treating anything your colleagues tell you with skepticism, even its it’s just their name, goes a long way to making you the most popular person in the room, as everyone works hard to get on your good side.

Don’t miss tomorrow’s session!