Whenever I go on holiday, childish instincts take over when I enter the hotel. I run in to see the room, the view, choose a bed and without fail – get acquainted with the TV. And most times, I am disappointed by the TV channels that are full of dubbed films, dramatic shows and token English-speaking channels – usually BBC News/CNN and MTV. But, the best bit about a holiday, is that there are so many other things to day, you hardly use the TV anyway.
So imagine having these limited TV viewing choices every day for a year. As a student, I was never too bothered by a lack of TV, especially in my first year at uni when I didn’t have a TV at all. Why? Because of that little thing called the Internet – whatever you want to watch at the click of a few keys. However, when you have limited dial-up Internet connection in Spain, you find that the TV is all that you have… So I ended up watching it and discovered a whole new world!
In Spain, my TV has the equivalent of English freeview, so a selection of random channels, of which I flick through a handful.
The two biggest networks, which for me are the equivalent of BBC and ITV, are la Sexta and La1. I have two Le Sexta channels which give me a range of documentaries, sports and La Sexta 3, which is a channel that plays films ALL DAY. Not bad, not bad at all.
However, you may sometimes tune into horrors such the ‘Bratz’ movie and other equally shocking “films”. If learning Spanish, you can always watch these films dubbed in the language to practice. Although it does sound a bit odd! At the very least use should the subtitles. When learning a language, you can forget everything your parents ever told you about TV being bad – it’s a brilliant way to immerse yourself in the language and pick up a few key words.
La1 is my go-to channel for a good ole Spanish telenovela (Spanish soap). If you ever watched ‘Ugly Betty’, you might remember Betty’s father, Ignacio, who always used to watch these Spanish soaps, which were dramatic and sometimes badly filmed.
Well, my first exploration into the world of ‘telenovelas’ took me to Palos Verdes in Mexico, watching a soap about two people who had lost their partners for different reasons, but years later were learning to love again (Amar de Nuevo). Sounds like your typical romcom, right? Now throw in, the male protagonist – Roman’s deceased wife’s twin sister, Rosilda who is obsessed with him and does some crazy things to try to be with him, including faking an illness and faking the paternity of her child. The programme has ended and I doubt anyone reading this was following it, so I won’t hesitate at leaking a spoiler. Rosilda throws herself in front of a bullet and dies to save Roman. And who shoots this bullet you ask? Maximo, who is so rich and corrupt that he owns the whole town but was in love with Veronica who is learning to love again with Roman! But Veronica marries Maximo to take revenge on him because it was he who sent the order to kill her first husband. And who killed Veronica’s first husband? Only Bulmaro, who killed Veronica’s husband under the orders of Maximo – his employer AND brother, despite being Veronica’s cousin! Confused?! Well, that’s only touching the surface of the storylines. Though unsurprisingly, Roman and Veronica married (Roman’s brother – Leandro is a priest who married the couple, who has also been in love with Veronica his whole life) and a number of other couples also paired off in the show and everyone lived HAPPILY EVER AFTER.
Luckily for you, I found an English trailer for it :)… enjoy!
And my colleagues used to laugh at me for watching it – it’s addictive. And I always kept telling them – good for my Spanish!
Other channels include Clan – the kids channel. Not going to lie, I was a frequent watcher when they played Penguins of Madagascar and Spongebob Square Pants. Unfortunately, the selection of shows has now lost my interest. Though I’m not sure even a toddler could manage about 3 hours of Peppa Pig – in Spanish or English!
Divinity is the channel for women. Grey’s Anatomy, Sex & the City, Desperate Housewives, Style by Jury, Home Heist, Life Unexpected – basically the best and the worst of American TV. Full of guilty pleasures and the channel to watch for daytime TV when you’re ill – Trust me, I know.
For some good Spanish TV, I would recommend a guilty pleasure telenovela to get stuck into, despite the usually over-the-top opening credits. Once you get into them, there’s no getting out and you’ll be addicted. I once missed one episode and the show had jumped 9 months into the future – I guess that’s one way to not have to think of 9 months worth of storylines! A popular documentary that is good to watch is variations of ‘Españoles en el Mundo’, which basically shows the lives of Spaniards around the world and how they have adapted to different countries. Quite a gem for a cultural insight into other countries and good for some Spanish practice.
Of course, I can’t talk about Spanish TV without mentioning TV adverts. It seems that whenever I switch on my TV, the Spaniards are always switched on! Adverts full of singing and dancing – be that an advert for the dentist to insurance, you will be entertained. There is also a significant lack of watershed here. Two examples – during Halloween, horror movies would be advertised all day, with very graphic scenes. And secondly, Spain thoroughly embraces the saying that sex sells, and they will show adverts to this effect all day… and the most explicit is used to sell cooker cleaner… cooker cleaner!
So there’s my insight into Spanish TV and a survival guide should you find yourself in the situation of watching only Spanish TV. But remember, if you can’t find something you want to watch, you can always amuse yourself by watching films dubbed into Spanish. I didn’t think it could get any odder than Jackie Chan dubbed into Spanish, until I flicked onto the Spanish-dubbed Mahatma Gandhi movie!
To end, here are a few ‘useful’ things that TV can teach you:
Vocab from Spongebob Square Pants = Bob Esponja
Sponge = esponja, crab = cangrejo, sand = arena, pineapple = piña, under
You may laugh, but it means I can now ask the very important question of:
Que vive en piña debajo del mar? – who lives in a pineapple under the sea?
“No te metas en mi vida!” – Don’t get involved in my life!
“Te amo con todo mi alma” – I love you will my soul
“Largate!” – get out!
I think it’s now evident how dramatic the soap was!