I thought it was fitting to have a final post summarizing my thoughts on Las Aparicio. Although I was often sarcastic and over the top in my recaps, what I said came from real problems that I had with the show. Hidden behind the snark, there were some serious and well founded (I think) criticism of the show. So, let's summarize it.
First, the good.
I really, really admire and respect the Aparicio Team because they had balls. When they tackled a subject they didn't back away, they went all the way. The lesbian relationships on the show were treated with the same respect as the straight ones, specially since they never backed away from showing lesbian affection/sex and even a lesbian wedding. They also dared to tackle other daring issues, such as polyamory, group sex, prostitution, swingers, etc, as well as social problems. The family's acceptance of Mariana and later on of her relationship with Julia was positive and encouraging, as was the show's overall treatment of sex as something that was just a part of life that shouldn't be taboo (although I wish they had dealt with STDs).
The characters of the show, overall, were awesome as well. Beautiful, strong, modern women who were played by awesome actresses. Mercedes, Alma, Rafaela...even Julia at first (I'll get to Julia later), and Mariana. The family relationships were also awesome (they made me want to be adopted by them), as was the show's stance on life: nothing is black and white. So the prostitutes are humanized for example, while the conservative puritans like Ileana are bitchy and mean.
Another thing that I really applaud them for doing is keeping in constant contact with the fans through the social networks (facebook, twitter). It was awesome to get twitcams and being able to send your questions to the actors live. I also remember getting to see, live, a rehearsal with the three sisters, or twitting with a couple of the writers or even an actor or two. They even had contests where fans had the opportunity to visit the set and even suggest storylines for the show (the Miguel and Violeta cases were submitted by fans, for example). It was super awesome in that way. I can't think of another show that would do something like that, so, BIG KUDOS.
Also, Maximo rocked, he had the best lines. In general the dialog tended to be very good and organic, particularly with Juliana.
Now, the bad.
1. The preaching.
I'm a purist. I think a story should entertain first and foremost. If you want to put a message across, you do it through the story, not by having the characters preach time and time again. If you want to show that homophobia sucks, show a gay guy being gay bashed and the aftermath of the attack. If those who watch don't take from that that homophobia is bad, then having the characters say it is isn't going to make a difference. Preaching in a show feels condescending and annoys me a LOT.
Maybe I'm not the target audience for this show, maybe it touched deeply those people who had never been exposed to the topics they covered, but I had. I had seen enough in real life and in fiction to not be shocked or scandalized by anything (ok, maybe the poliamor was a bit out there for me) they showed, so all the preaching bored and annoyed the hell out of me.
2. The redundancy
Good Lord. How many times could Julia be confused? How many times could Alma and Leo break up and get together? How many times could Alex try to forget Alma and then decide that he loved her? How many times could Ileana throw a tantrum? How many times and ways could they push down my throat that homophobia is bad?
Seriously, they were stuck in a hole and wouldn't move those storylines forward, which takes us to our next point....
3. The boredom: Series format vs Telenovela
They were trying to be different by trying to follow the one hour drama format, but in a daily show. I don't think it worked out for them, they would've been better off as a weekly series.
Telenovelas, with all of their flaws and cliche storylines and characters (which they made fun of) are successful because they work. They succeed in maintaining a dramatic tension, suspense and curiosity that keeps people entertained and wanting to come back for more every day.
Let's take Amar en Tiempos Revueltos, for example. I got introduced to it because of the Ana/Teresa storyline. But the episodes are online and free on the official site, so after their story was over I've started watching them from the beginning. I already know how it ends, yet I'm still entertained by all the other stories that I didn't know about. It works.
Las Aparicio doesn't, at least not to me.
They were a sort of diluted one hour drama show, having so many episodes to fill while avoiding Telenovelas cliches left them with a shitload of time to fill. They filled it with filler, which made the series lose its emotional punch. They were times when it seemed like they were literally killing time until it was time to move the story forward, like that week when they spent on the girls and their classes at the Atelier or the endless Hernan storyline. At times it felt like they had no pacing, no dramatic crescendo that led to an intense climax and then a satisfying resolution, specially with the Juliana storyline. In the end it was just..blah, even though the last five episodes were pretty good (for most of the storylines).
Telenovelas also tend to succeed because they're driven by the intensity of the characters' emotions, characters that become our friends. That empathy was difficult to achieve with Las Aparicio when every week the real drama came from the characters of the week, who we barely knew and whose case we knew would be solved favorably, and the main character's storylines were, unfortunately, so redundant and even somewhat predictable.
That's not to say that I think Telenovelas are the ultimate expression of dramatic fiction, far from it. But, in the past, the few Telenovelas I've watched have succeeded in keeping me more entertained than Las Aparicio, which, after some point, felt like a chore rather than a guilty pleasure.
During the first 60 episodes, the show was edgy and unexpected, at least when it came to Juliana. I remember our endless discussions at the afterellen forum and being super excited because I couldn't figure out what would come next. After the poliamor started, it changed. They sacrificed the characters for the sake of exploring it. Once Mariana and Armando said yes, the show became boring and predictable to me because there was no more conflict. I never had any doubt after that that Mariana and Armando would always say yes to whatever Julia wanted. I also knew without a doubt that, at every crossroads that they found themselves at, they would always choose the more 'revolutionary' choice. When Armando wanted them to live together, I knew they'd say yes, when there was a possibility of them having a three way, I knew it would happen, when Dani started flirting, I knew the four of them would go to bed together. When you can always predict what will happen, it becomes boring.
It applies to the case of the week as well, I always knew Meche was going to win in the end, and that the sex problems of Alma's clients would always be solved.
The PTB were also pretty big on releasing spoilers, so I wonder if I would've found the show less predictable if they hadn't said, from the very beginning, that the girls were going to get married in the end.
I don't know.
You will probably find this shocking, but at first I really liked Julia. In fact, I could relate to her confusions and internal struggles, and I forgave her for a lot because I truly thought that she meant no harm. But her character was just completely butchered once Armando came back from Spain. In fact, she stopped being a person and became a caricature because they took her to such an extreme. Extremely immature, extremely jealous, extremely sexualized, extremely deluded, extremely manipulative....an incredibly spoiled kid who thought that the world revolved around her (and unfortunately, it kind of did), all because they wanted to explore the goddamn poliamor. They tried to redeem her in the end, but for me it didn't work because she never suffered, never lost anything, never showed real empathy towards those she was hurting because of her bullshit.
One can argue that she was human, and that's true, but stories are better than real life because they give us endings and satisfactions that real life doesn't. So the bad guys always get punished, for example. We didn't get it with Julia, and I'm still waiting.
Mariana too started out as a great character. Funny, loving, supportive, hot... a lesbian dream. But once she realized that she was in love with Julia she got sucked into Julia's bullshit in a way that is just unbelievable. She was so dependent on Julia and so afraid of losing her that she completely compromised her dignity to indulge her in everything, all the time. It was appalling and sad.
If we ignore all of the flaws that I've already mentioned and completely forget 40 or 50 episodes of the show, they make a great couple. They have good chemistry, they have nice, witty dialog and look hot together.
But that 'if' it's a really, really big one.
And, so now it's over. I'm glad. I started doing the recaps when I still really liked the show, but then halfway through it got really hard for me to keep going. I've gone back and forth on whether or not I want to recap the first 38 episodes that I missed. I'm torn about it because I really hate leaving things half done, but at the same time I'm really tired. I'll take some time to think about it and we'll see.
I don't know what I'm gonna recap next (if I do). I'm open to suggestions, so feel free to drop me a line in the comments section. But, please, no daily shows. Five episodes a week is too much for my brain, it's exhausting.
Thanks for reading gueys! It was a pleasure to make you laugh and your comments meant a lot to me, at least I can take that away from Las Aparicio. That, plus 'guey' and 'mi caudal de penas no tiene fin.'