Telenovelas have learned a lot from Seinfeld.

In Seinfeld , George built a hidden compartment in his desk so he could nap.

In Señora Acero , the Evil Gringo FBI Chief in Mexico built a hidden compartment in his desk so he could hide the $$$$ he got from El Teca.

You be the judge…

George never had that much cash, and the DEA Chief is too coked up to sleep.

So as usual, everything works out for the best!!

If you’re not watching telenovelas you don’t know what you’re missing!



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 &!



Katie Barberi walks into the small Italian restaurant in Lincoln Park and somehow, on a muggy Monday night, in a pizzeria with a listless wait-staff and even less-enthused customers, she makes a Grand Entrance, and immediately owns the place, without even trying.  That is what is known as “presence.” With a delicate beauty and eyes a shade of green that inspires art, Katie Barberi has an over-abundance of presence that cannot be contained within her petite frame.  

Not to be outdone, and without even trying, is her fiancée and partner in the most true sense of the word, Craig Hurley.  Tall, lanky and quiet, with an easy laugh and fierce eyes that don’t miss a thing,  Craig is either Jimmy Stewart with a dark side or a younger Sam Elliot with an edge.   

They are perfect together, because together, in the space between them, they create something magical, and it’s more than just True Love.   They seem so different, but maybe it’s that difference that ignites their creativity.  Katie Barberi and Craig Hurley are taking on the world, or should I say many worlds, and with their graphic novel “Daylight Sucks” they have created very human Vampires who wreak havoc on  the worst of humanity.  And as if that wasn’t enough, they have bravely taken on the right of actors to join the union SAG-AFTRA.   Getting to know these two over a delicious pizza (thin-crust- YAY!!) was a treat, but something tells me we that are going to enjoy a few more meals together, especially since they have planted roots in Chicago!  

You know Katie & Craig,  and you have known them for a long time:

 Katie has been in countless,,fabulous telenovelas like “Corazon Valiente,” “Dona Barbara” and “Eva, La Trailera,” to name just few.  I loved Katie in “Corazon Valiente,” a telenovela that will always be special to me because it was the first telenovela that captivated me so much that I wanted to learn Spanish so I could understand what was happening.

 Katie Barberi, as “Perla” just about killed me.  If one hallmark of a great telenovela is really beautiful people are making horrible decisions, then Katie was telenovela royalty because no one in that wild and crazy show made worse decisions than Perla and I LOVED her for it.

Katie has been performing long before she starred in telenovelas and has been in plays, movies and plenty of television shows in the USA and Mexico.  She is beloved as the funny fashionista “Ursula” in the Nickelodeon series “Every Witch Way” and it’s Mexican counterpart “Grachi”. All of the young women who grew up on these shows really love Katie.  At the First Annual ALTA Awards at the Victory Gardens,which Craig and Katie invited me to attend with them after dinner, she was surrounded by such a group!   ALTA stands for the “Alliance of LatinX Theatre Artists” and it was the most fun awards show I have ever been to.  Yes, it was also my first awards show, but Katie agreed it was fantastic, and she’s been to the Oscars! As one award-winner put it:  “We are LatinX. We cheer and yell for every nominee, and then we all cheer again for the winner!!”  It was a joyous event.

When we walked out of the theatre into a cold mist, Chicago was shutting down for the night.  Craig and I waited on a quiet Lincoln Avenue for Katie, who was surrounded by enthusiastic fans –award winners themselves for their new storefront theatre  in Chicago’s Albany Park, these young women had grown up watching  “Grachi or Every Witch Way” or both, and they were delighted to be meeting Katie.  And Katie was so excited for them, and so proud of their work, the admiration was mutual.  

A few feet away, Craig watched it all with a smile equal parts love and pride. “This happens everywhere we go.  Everyone loves Katie. They just gravitate to her.”

I looked up at him, with a bit of a crush, because after all, he did beat up Luke Perry in “90210.”  Craig might be as close as I will ever come to meeting a cowboy, even though Craig Hurley is not a cowboy, grew up in the Chicago suburbs and graduated from the Chicago Academy of the Arts and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Pasadena, California.  But he is so laconic, with the air of certainty that comes with the ability to be just that quiet and still speak volumes, that I think this is what cowboys must be like.

Craig has been acting for a long time; since he was a kid.   After having performed in multiple shows and plays as a child, Craig began his adult acting career after he moved to Hollywood.  After guest starring on shows like “Highway to Heaven,” “Freddie’s Nightmares” and “21 Jump Street” and playing recurring roles in “90210,” “Life Goes On” and “Hunter,” Craig was a  regular on the Dick Wolf (pre-“Law & Order”) show “Nasty Boys” opposite Dennis Franz and Benjamin Bratt.

After years in show business, Craig was the guy with the best stories, so he wrote a book called “27 And All Washed Up.”   It is his narrative of what he calls his “trip down the Rabbit Hole” as a young actor in Hollywood in the 80’s and 90’s. Even though the book is filled with great stories about his years in Hollywood, he views it as a text for young actors.  Craig is currently re-editing a second edition of the book which will be available soon, when it’s going to fly off the shelves.

It was the book that brought Katie and Craig together: They met in Hollywood, on the horror anthology  “Freddie’s Nightmares,” but were too young to appreciate what had sparked between them. Years later, when Craig sent Katie a copy of his  book because she was in it, they reconnected, and have been together ever since.

Katie and Craig  navigated the treacherous waters of a  childhood spent in front of the camera, and came out fine on the other side:  Is this why they still look at each other like they are in the fresh bloom of love?  Maybe, but I think it’s something more:  These two didn’t just survive those waters – they are flourishing.  Is it their charm? Talent? Looks? Their wicked and very in-sync sense of humor?  Well, those things help certainly, and they have those qualities in abundance. Nope, it’s something more.  When I ask them how they have done it, how they have stayed in show business for so long without losing their humanity (and their minds), and with such enthusiasm and optimism, I found the source of  their bond: It’s  old-school toughness, and it’s super-cool.  

Katie tells me that you can’t take anything personally; stay focused and don’t give up ever.  Ever. In a separate conversation, Craig tells me you have to be able to shift if you want to stick with show business:  If acting doesn’t work, try writing, producing, accounting.  ACCOUNTING, I ask? Yes, says Craig. Studios need accountants too.  If you love the business, you will find the right opportunity.

Their philosophy is really just two sides of the same coin: Stick To It. And don’t let anyone tell you you can’t. Katie and Craig share a resiliency that has served them well, and they are all about their future – a future filled with vampires.   

The future looks very bright for “Daylight Sucks”  their series of graphic novels that they have created and produced (along with very talented artists)  about the Alnwicks, a clan of vampires that destroys (and  feeds upon) the worst of society, while being real-life Champions for people that need their help. In other words, they are  Vigilante Vampires.  Except for the fact that the Alnwicks are The Undead, and also Superheroes, they  are just like every other family.  

Their leader is “Eva,” who is older than Time, but because she is modeled after Katie she looks FABULOUS!  She has a younger boyfriend, George, who is about 1750 years old, but stays in shape.  Eva fights for Women & Children, while George is the clan’s provider and defender.  Everyone in the family has a cause: Equality, the environment, animals, immigration, and even romance.  True vigilantes, no abuser escapes their wrath, or escapes being dinner.

Craig has been forever fascinated by Vampires, and wanted to debunk the myths that surround them. He does a great job of it in “Daylight Sucks” and also over dinner.    Since everything I know about vampires comes from “Dracula” or “The Lost Boys,” Craig burst a lot of my Vampire bubbles when we met. Katie is a natural fit for  Eva, and when she started writing the backstory for her character, Eva came alive and flowed through Katie as she wrote. Their partners in this amazing endeavor are Mauricio Toro and William Finke; with the artwork of Pablo Solarte and Brigiet Lopez.    

There is more than just vengeance, judgment and violence in the series – there is a star-crossed, bilingual love story too.  A young woman named Esperanza who has crossed into the USA from Mexico to find the father she doesn’t know endures hardship and sometimes horror on her journey, and she crosses paths with the Alnwicks.  Will they help her? It’s not just Vampires that have to live underground, is it?

It comes as no surprise to anyone who knows Katie and Craig that they have managed to weave into “Daylight Sucks” one  the most pressing issues of our day – Immigration.  Katie and Craig are a power couple who use their powers for others!   In fact, Craig’s favorite role is the shy, scared “Billy Bibbit” in “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” because he can give Billy the strength and courage Billy lacks.

For the past several years, Katie and Craig  have been working tirelessly to bring the union SAG-AFTRA to the actors who work for Telemundo. It became Katie’s  true passion and it’s an amazing story. Katie’s work on behalf of actors was not easy and was not without a huge cost to her own career, but she has no regrets.  Like her alter-ego Eva, Katie simply saw a wrong and tried to right it.  Of course, unlike Eva, she did it without killing anyone.

Katie’s steely tenacity paid off when, in a historic moment, Telemundo performers were allowed to vote to on whether to join SAG-AFTRA.  This election was the first time in 65 years that actors at a major television network took a vote to the National Labor Relations Board.  Katie and Craig have a lot to be proud of, but if you ask me, the BEST part of that whole story is that the President of SAG-AFTRA is actress Gabrielle Carteris, who played “ Andrea Zukerman” in “90210!”  What??!!

I hope that Katie, Craig, Gabrielle and Luke Perry all go out to The Peach Pit to celebrate, and that they invite me.

And when they are not saving the world, Katie is also a  lyric Soprano who also has her own jewelry line, composed of pieces as lovely and delicate as she is! And Craig is a fantastic cook and also a structural engineer (which is the family business)!!

Why couldn’t they save some of their great qualities for the rest of us??

Watch this space for more telenovela news next month! And follow me everywhere @gringanovelera!!


First, I was his fan,

and then I was his friend,

and now Jose Ignacio Valenzuela, aka José Ignacio “Chascas” Valenzuela, has asked me to share his presentation of his thriller “To The End Of The World” at City Lit Books in Chicago on October 6, at 5:00 p.m.!!

Who am I???

I’m #lagringanovelera, also known as Karen Kerbis, a Chicago prosecutor learning Spanish from telenovelas and writing about them every day!

How did a Chilean author & I find each other?

Come to City Lit Books at 2523 North Kedzie Avenue, in the heart of Chicago’s Logan Square, to hear our presentation of Jose’s first book to be translated into English, “To The End Of The World,” and you’ll learn the answer to that mystery!!

See you there!!!

In “Falsa Identidad” We See Why All Big-City Mayors Should Still Live At Home With Their Moms

Que tal!

Well, in “Falsa Identidad,” the latest ThrillerNovela from Telemundo, last night we watched the second episode, and have already called out our spot on the couch for the third episode, which starts Muy Pronto.

So, I didn’t realize until last night that Eliseo was THE MAYOR, yet still lived with his mother and stepfather.

I’m from Chicago, where we have a longstanding tradition of Mayors Behaving Badly.

I realize now that if they still lived at home with their moms, they would behave a lot better.

Eliseo sent his brother Diego on the road with Isabel and her son, so that Diego could escape from the Narco Gavino Gaona, who wants to kill Diego for stealing his wife and his gasoline.

Gavino had already killed his wife, now it’s Diego’s turn. So far no one in Gavino’s organization has been able to kill him because they either lost him in the chase or they are in love with him.

I’m not sure which category David falls into yet.

Mayor Eliseo promised Isabel he’d raise her teenage daughter as his own, because there weren’t enough passports for her, but he still hasn’t figured out how he will tell his scary, steely, flinty mother (The Great Sonia Smith) that he has a teenage daughter who just popped up.

Since her 2nd husband has already accused her of failing as a mother because her son Diego steals oil from Narcos, he will also accuse of her as failing as a grandmother, and it will be no excuse to say she didn’t even know she had any grandchildren.

MEANWHILE, I love watching Diego and Isabel On The Road because they are bickering just as much as any old married couple, even though they just met yesterday in the hallway of the Mayor’s house.

They crossed into Arizona yesterday but the Gaona Cartel is hot in their tail thanks to a combination of very corrupt border agents and ultra-efficient hotel clerks.

MEANWHILE, everyone has come to the Mayor’s house looking for El Diego and Isabel. First, Isabel’s weak and drunk husband brought his father, The Chief of Police, to find Isabel and the kids at the Mayor’s house.

Here’s where MEXICO is just like Chicago: No police chief in the real world or in Novelaville, in Chicago or in Mexico, is searching the Mayor’s house.

Not if they want to keep their pension anyway.

So at first, the Chief pretends to be a little social, but he loses his temper and eventually demands that Zoraida produce his daughter-in-law and grand-kids. At that point the Mayor’s mom Fernanda threw him out of the house.

The only thing worse than getting thrown out of the Mayor’s house is if it’s his mom who gave you the boot.

Defeated, El Coronel and that imbecile of a son left the Mayor’s house and went home to get drunk.

El Coronel thinks Isabel has a boyfriend; he doesn’t know she escaped because her son will kill her.

Just as Fernanda got rid of those two, the whole Goana Cartel showed up, looking for Diego.

They surrounded the Mayor and his stepfather at gunpoint,

on the front steps of the Mayor’s house.

We may behave pretty badly in Chicago, but no one here would ever have the nerve to hold the Mayor at gunpoint on his front steps.

Honestly, he’s more likely to take hostages than we are.

Eliseo is very brave, and he told the Goana Crew, including The Perpetually Angry Gavino, that they could come in and search the whole house. Diego wasn’t there.

Of course, once he called their bluff (and they then claimed that they saw Diego driving away), they all left.

I think that the real reason the Goana crew declined the offer is because they were afraid they’d run into Fernanda.


Gavino, whose appears to hate his daughter Circe and vice-versa, announces yesterday that when the time comes, he’s giving control of the cartel to his right-hand man Joselito, and not his daughter because she’s a woman.

Not only has a made an enemy, he may have lost a Falconer.

Watch this fun and fast show tonight!!

The Time Is Now To Start a New Telenovela!

Did you watch the Very Fast & Furious World Premiere of “Falsa Identidad” on Telemundo? It was Fantastic! And the next episode starts in just a few hours!

Basically, Luis Ernesto Franco, as “El Diego,” and Camila Sodi, as “Isabel,” had better be Fast because The Bad Guys are Furious!

So basically, here’s the story so far:

El Diego has been in trouble with everyone ever since his father died when El Diego was a little boy, and before he had an “El” in front of his name.

El Diego and his older brother Eliseo are very tight, and Elisio always bails Diego out of trouble with their mother “Fernanda,” the Very Scary Yet Always Elegant Sonia Smith, who is now married to a creep that no one likes (except maybe Fernanda.

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch (literally), Mafioso Gavino Gaona has a huge house filled with:

-a wife he hates (but wants to possess),

-a daughter named “Circe” who is also a Falconer, and has the coolest name on the show, who he hates but wants to possess (Samadhi Zendejas);

-a huge staff made up of a lot of men who will kill anyone he wants,whenever he wants, who he does possess;

-a right-hand man named “Joselito” player by the always-great Uriel Del Toro, who might be hiding a False Identity of his own, who hates/loves Circe, and definitely hates El Franco,

– and a lot of other people who Gavino hates, and who hate him, but they all seem to live in the same house.

No one plays a perpetually angry and bitterly-disappointed-in-his-non-killer-children Narco better than the always fantastic Sergio-Goyri.

So El Diego and his BFF David (played by the always excellent and very popular Pepe Gamez) get caught stealing oil from Don Gaona’s pipeline.

I thought they had struck oil, and I was about to watch a telenovela version of the “Beverly Hillbillies,” but when they ran away as lots of big black cars drove up shooting at them, I realized there was a big difference between stealing oil and striking oil.

El Diego’s mother Fernanda was very angry that her son was stealing oil from the rich and corrupt and giving it to the poor, especially since the oil belonged to Don Gaona, her new husband’s patron.

As she was trying to throw him out, his brother Elisio was running interference for him, but Fernanda wasn’t having it.

Unfortunately, while Diego’s mother and brother were fighting over how bad Franco is because he stole oil from the NarcoBoss, El Diego then stole the Narco Boss’ much younger wife.

While Diego and Mrs. Gavino Gaona dallied in a tool- shed with no comfortable furniture, Joselito found them and took a lot of photos, which he then gleefully showed to Mr Gavino Gaona.

An angry (well, angrier) Gavino then sent his men, and oddly, his daughter Circe The Falconer, to kill El Diego.

Circe was in the best position to kill El Diego but she didn’t because she loves him, and she’ll be lucky if her father doesn’t kill her once The Evil Joselito tells on her.


Poor Isabel, played by the lovely and talented Camila Sodi, married the wrong guy, and she knows he’s the wrong guy because he beats her up all of the time.

How does he get away with it?

His father is the Chief of Police.

So Isabel can’t leave because her husband will kill her.

And she can’t stay because her husband will kill her.

Since it’s bad either way, Isabel takes her two children and flees to her friend Zoraida’s house, where Zoraida lives as the housekeeper for … wait for it … ELISIO!!

When Eliseo finds a whole new family hiding in his kitchen he demands to know (not unreasonably) who they are.

Here is how pretty Camila Sodi is:

Even with Band-Aids on her face, she’s still beautiful.


El Diego learns that his girlfriend Mrs Gavino’s body has been found hanging from a bridge attached to a note that says “We’re looking for you…”

Diego is pretty sure that the “You” referred to in the note is Diego.

When Diego’s stepfather learns that there is a price on his head, he calls Don Gavino to turn him in.

I’ll be honest: I don’t think step-dad needs the money; I think he’s just that bad.

So Diego flees to his brother Eliseo’s house.

When Elisio learns that Isabel and her children are hiding from her abusive husband and the Chief of Police, and he realizes that he’s got to get his brother out of town, he solves two problems in one brilliant way:

Diego and Isabel can flee together, pretending to be married.

Even though they just met in the hallway between the kitchen and the living room, they agreed to do it.

If this relationship works out, it will change the face of courtship forever!

The only catch was there were not enough passports for Isabel’s daughter, so Isabel had to leave the teenager with Eliseo, who vowed to raise her as his own.

This is a very generous gesture by Eliseo, who apparently hasn’t ever met a teenage girl before, and is not prepared for the tears, screams, unreasonably hurt feelings, massive, massive texting, and eye-rolling.

Think this is a lot for one episode???

You don’t know the half of it!!

And don’t miss tonight’s episode on Telemundo!

If you’ve always wanted to watch a telenovela now is the time!!

With “Falsa Identidad” just starting, and my recaps of the show (and the English subtitles, if you want), this is the perfect show for you!!

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!

In The ComaNovela “El Senor De Los Cielos,” It’s Time To Make Room For Daddy…

You remember how when you were a kid, and every time your parents weren’t around, even if you had a babysitter, things were still a bit of a free-for-all?

Well something very similar is happening in the Telemundo NarcoNovela “El Senor de Los Cielos,” except “Daddy” is a lot scarier because unlike (most of) your parents, in this case “Daddy” is the deadly Aurelio Casillas, head of a cartel, and starting to wake up out of his coma, which I predict will take us right up to the Very Grand Finale next week.

So buckle your seatbelts, grab your seat on the couch, and you may want to consider a bulletproof vest…

As we move into the Very Final Episodes of the Telemundo ComaNovela #ElSenorDeLosCielos, all bets are off. It’s like a Narco version of the game “Musical Chairs,” and when the gunfire stops, who will be the Last Man (Or Woman) Standing?

With Aurelio off in Dreamland (and maybe the Penalty Box) everyone else on the show has become an Independent Contractor, and the end result of that chaos appears to be Nuclear War (literally).

So first of all, the Cuban General Valdes has apparently made plans to buy a missile in Tijuana from a Middle-Eastern arms dealer who has brought the wife and kids with to Tijuana I guess because it’s still Summer Vacation for some kids.

Valdes also sent La Coronela, her corporal/slave, and Sergeant Casasola to Tijuana too, either because they are actually supppsed to take that missile back to Mexico in their car, or because it’s their Summer Vacation too.

I hope there is enough room in the trunk.

If Valdes is thinking of invading Miami with that missile, I hope he is bringing enough Picadillo for everyone.

And meanwhile, Guess Who is waking up? And he’s going to be VERY hung-over!

Don’t miss the wild last week of The CrazyComaNarcoNovela “El Senor de Los Cielos!”

In The NarcoNovela “El Senor De Los Cielos,” The Casillas Family Are The Worst Houseguests EVER!

Que tal!

I hope you have been watching “El Senor de Los Cielos” because right now it is the only show crazier than “Sin Senor Si Hay Paraíso” , and believe me, that’s saying something.

First of all, El Senor himself is in a coma, with his head wrapped up in bandages, with only one eye poking out.

Imagine The Invisible Man in the middle of a contract dispute, with a lot of men wearing big cowboy hats and bigger belt buckles in charge of his medical care.

After he was shot by El Cabo and his ever-dwindling group of Not-So-Merry Men, he had sought refuge with El Rayo (his childhood boxing coach), where he was rescued by his half-brother Amado, who is known as El Aguila Azul, but to be honest I think he should be called “El Principe Azul,” and Aurelio’s triple-crossing girlfriend Corina, and some luchadors.

This crew got him to The Ahumada Ranch, which is usually a pretty quiet place even with Don Ahumada running for El Presidente, until their long-lost (for a good reason) cousins The Casillas Family (all shot up) showed up at the Ahumada Ranch. Dona Alba and Mrs. Ahumada are cousins, but there’s a reason why Mr. Ahumada doesn’t want them around and it’s this: THE CASILLAS FAMILY ARE NARCOS AND HE IS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT AND HIS PLATFORM IS “I AM NOT A NARCO!”

With the Casillas Clan, you get a lot of gangsters, bullys, big guns, yelling, a Command Center, more yelling, plotting, full-metal makeouts in unexpected places, shoot-outs, worry, drama, a mini-hospital, a full medical staff, torture, kidnappings, and even more yelling. This is not what a Presidential Candidate needs, except maybe for the plotting. And the make-outs. And the medical staff is OK but only if they have brought Ambien.

In fact, the Casillas Clan should probably just stay home the next time they are attacked.

Meanwhile, to add to the Candidate’s worry, his daughter Diana was kidnapped by the neighbors, the Ramos Brothers, who I hope are better ranchers than they are kidnappers and neighbors. Don Ahumada and the police were on their way to rescue Diana, but she tried to stall them because with the Casillas Cousins taking up all of the air in the room with their problems, neither Diana nor her mother had had a chance to tell Papi that Diana is a Narca, and that is why she is still single.

Diana is like a teenager who gets caught with marijuana in her backpack, except in her case it’s like 18 tons of marijuana.

She was so afraid her father and the police were going to find out she was a Narca that she actually called her archenemy and Texas dinner date El Cabo to ransom her. Cabo agreed to do it, because he thinks everything is funny, even though he thought there was a slight risk that it could be a set up. And even though it was not a set-up, because he did not find Diana tied to the railroad tracks (which I guess The Ramos Brothers said they were going to do) he believed that it was. If you ask me, the best part about that scene on the tracks was that one of his henchman held an umbrella over Cabo, to keep the strong sun off his head. Cabo is like Queen Elizabeth without the handbag, in that someone else holds his umbrella.

If I worked for Cabo, I would tell him he needs a summer weight Run-DMC track suit, in seersucker, because black velour is just too warm. I think if El Cabo could be anything he wanted to be (besides El Cabo), he would be a Russian Oligarch, because no one would love to prance around in an ostrich jacket more than El Cabo.

Luckily for Diana, she is rescued by her half-cousin Amado Leal, known as El Chicle or El Aguila Azul. But in Diana’s case, it’s more like “El Principe Azul” because when he rescues her as they booth shoot it out with the Nitwit Ramos Brothers, it’s Love At First Shot. It’s a good thing her hair and makeup still looked good even though she had to wear the burlap head bag for several days.

See, my mother was right: You never know where you are going to meet your Future Husband, and having your head stuck in a burlap bag is no excuse not to wear lipstick.

Once Diana was rescued from the Ramos Brothers, she had to explain to her father that she was kidnapped because she is a Narca, which is also why she was still single.

Of course she was kidnapped because she’s a Narca!

What does she look like? The Lindbergh Baby?

Meanwhile, an angry El Cabo incorrectly felt he had been betrayed by Diana, so he tried to kill her father at a campaign rally. If he dies I think there is a chance he can still win the election since everyone likes a nice quiet candidate.

And El Cabo’s girlfriend Evelina went to the morgue to identify her dead father but he wasn’t there, and that’s probably because he’s not dead.

If I understood things correctly, and the odds are pretty good that I did not, Evelina’s father is El Rayo, which makes her practically family to the Casillas Family, which is going to make Thanksgiving particularly awkward.

Don’t miss a minute of this fast, funny and fantastic show!

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


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