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!