First things first: like it or not, Telenovela is one of those shows you will hear about a lot next fall -and even before that- because NBC will surely spend a ton of money to promote it, hoping it will become their next great comedy hit, their first in years indeed. They have already committed to 13 episodes, without ordering any pilot first, just based on the script, the potential it demonstrates and the power of its leading lady (and producer): Miss Eva Longoria. Plus, as diversity is the most discussed subject on TV right now, Tenevola fits perfectly with what networks are looking for in that department: an almost all latino cast with a very popular latina at the center of it, who can heavily attract Spanish speaking americans as much as white people and every minority you can think of (afro-americans, gays…). Of course, that’s the plan on paper. But things don’t always turn out the way they should. In the end, the show needs to be good. The rest is luck… and good scheduling. So, is Telenovela good?
No. It’s not. it’s just OK for now, with decent writing but nothing much new to offer. Showing the behind-the-scenes of a TV series, whereas it’s a comedy, a soap opera or a telenovela has already been done too many times, 30 Rock being the best example there is. And Tina Fey is clearly nowhere to be found on this project. The bigger than life tone of telenovelas has already been gently mocked by fellows Ugly Betty, 30 Rock itself, and more recently by Happyland and Jane The Virgin. Telenovela does the exact same thing, without throwing anything new into the mix. It makes most of the twists way too obvious. That being said, some lines made me smile and I nearly laughed once or twice, some situations totally work. It’s fast-paced and energetic. But be aware you won’t get punchlines every five seconds in here, which is sad because Eva Longoria knows how to deliver them every time she gets the chance. She had plenty of time to exercise during Desperate Housewives 8-years run.
But forget about Gabrielle Solis. Welcome to Ana Maria. Oh and be careful: you might not be able to notice the difference, and for a good reason! There is none. You won’t discover a new side of Eva Longoria’s talent in this show. She’s playing the exact same funny bitch we are used, who’s not as bad as she wants people to think she is. She has a big heart and can be sweet at times… bla bla bla. She’s Gaby, if Gaby was a real star, not just the star of Wisteria Lane. She’s the diva Eva Longoria was born to play (over and over again). We can’t really complain about that since she’s really good at it and pretty bad for pretty much anything else. But still. Been there, done that. Either you miss Gaby and you will be happy to have her back (kinda), either you had enough of her and won’t be able to watch Telenovela more than 5 minutes. Me, I chose to be happy. The eccentric galery of secondary characters who revolves around her is promising, with the gay paranoid co-star, the jolly bestfriend, the cat… yes, there’s a cat, a wicked one… great stooges!
I may not sound too excited by Telenovela but deep down inside I think I am a little bit, and I’m sure you are too. Because we all miss Desperate Housewives to varying degrees. It’s not as good as DH was when it started and it’s different in many ways but it’s good enough to entertain us once a week and do the trick, but for how long?