Telenovelas are known to be dramatic and filled with twists and turns, and a fair criticism from those who watch them is that new telenovelas can seem very familiar. For example, the Maite Perroni-fronted show La Gata has been called a lower quality version of Corazón Indomable. Instead of looking at an extensive catalog of telenovelas for inspiration, producers should be looking to English-language dramas and comedies. Here are 10 shows that would be right at home on Telemundo or Univision!
1. Once Upon a Time
The fantasy genre is not very often explored in telenovelas, and a typical fairy tale wouldn’t fare well in the telenovela format. Once Upon a Time is different, though, as it explores the dark sides of many characters, which includes the heroes. Almost everyone gets to play more than one note, and there’s a wealth of characters. This means recognized actors could come and go and not be tied down to the show. (William Levy, we’re looking at you!)
Telenovelas love the revenge theme. But what’s great about this show is that the main character is actively looking to seek revenge, and you’re still supposed to root for her. Other telenovelas may show characters slowly get to the point where they want to get back at those who wronged them, but this show jumps right into the action.
One of the biggest problems with telenovelas is that there is not representation for every kind of woman. Unfortunately, leading characters are almost always white, and other races are relegated to supporting roles. Telenovelas can take a note from Scandal and cast a black woman in the lead role, and regardless of what country the show is set in, the idea can work. All you need is a high-powered government employee and the powerful woman he is having an affair with.
4. The Bridge
Telenovelas are more commonly set in Mexico, but The Bridge focuses on the collaboration between cops in Mexico and the United States. The show started off with a serial killer terrorizing people in both countries and has been able to continue moving forward with drug cartels being the common enemy. Even though it was recently canceled, the beauty is that there is good and bad guys on each side.
5. House of Cards
Frank Underwood is one of the worst people on TV, and House of Cards is largely seen through his perspective. There may be a horrible ending coming for Underwood, but his character will definitely live by Julian Gil’s words: "The villain has a really bad ending, but also he has a really good time for almost the entire run of the series.” There also won’t be anything formulaic about this show.
Superheroes are huge right now, and studios are taking advantage of this by giving shows to characters that wouldn’t necessarily work in a movie. Putting them in a telenovela would be a very new thing, and Arrow is a great choice because of the world that it is set in. It doesn’t have to be cheesy, and it also doesn’t have to be too dark. This is something the CW version has managed to do.
7. Sex And The City
Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda became the voice of many women because of Sex And The City. The show was daring and tackled issues that are important to women. Though relationships with men made up a large chunk of the show—at its core—the show is about the friendship these four women have. This would let telenovelas explore the idea that being single is OK, too.
8. Parks And Recreation
Mi Corazón Es Tuyo is proof that funny works for telenovelas. Hour after hour of dramas can get tiring, so something that is formatted like Parks and Recreation can offer a much needed break. What this show does so well is that on top of having a solid main cast, it has quirky characters from town that occasionally pop in.
9. Pretty Little Liars
This ABC Family drama has a big following, and its frustrating, complicated plot lines are just calling to be adapted to telenovelas. You watch the show and constantly wonder why such implausible things are happening, but you just can’t stay away. Also, if it’s in a telenovela format, you’ll get answers on who A is so much faster.
The UK series had a shot on MTV, where circumstances like an underage cast made it difficult to succeed. But what’s compelling about the show is that it touches on real subjects. Endings aren’t always so neatly wrapped, and telenovelas can use a shake up like this.