Quantcast
subscriber help

artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: The most-coveted U.S. TV viewers are turning to Univision: will we see more shows with Hispanic appeal on English-language TV?

Entertainment in the United States hit a milestone this week that could potentially have a dramatic impact on the flavor of pop culture. From The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Univision was the most popular network among television viewers aged 18 to 49 years old last week, the first time a Spanish-language station has beaten English stations in this key demographic in the United States.

Soap operas reaching key points in their stories combined with a desultory week of reality and reruns at the English broadcast networks made the milestone possible.

On television, the 18-to-49-year-old demographic is considered so important to advertisers that ABC, NBC and Fox pay more attention to these ratings than they do for viewership as a whole.

Univision was similarly popular by another measure this summer, too:

In July, Univision beat all the broadcast networks for the month among viewers aged 18 to 34, Nielsen said. With a growing Latino population and that youthful audience, last week’s milestone could become commonplace.

It sounds like the AP is trying to find a reason other than the growing Hispanic/Latino population in the U.S. for Univision’s popularity — Oh, well, there was nothing to watch on the English-language networks anyway. That may be shortsighted, though, as another section of the article suggests:

[Univision’s] backbone… is the prime-time soap operas, known as telenovelas, that run five times a week. One episode of the 9 p.m. telenovela, “Soy tu Duena” (“I’m Your Owner”), finished among Nielsen’s top 20 among all viewers last week.

In that show, the character Valentina Villalba, who found love again after being abandoned at the altar, saw her new love come face to face with her ex-fiance.

In the 8 p.m. show, “Hasta Que El Dinero Nos Separe” (“Until the Money Separates Us”), a woman plans to ask her husband for a divorce because she suspects him of infidelity. She wants to marry a man who had earlier caused the couple to be injured in an auto accident.

“The Hispanic demographic connects with this type of programming because of its cultural relevancy,” Conde said. “Viewers at the end of the day want to watch high-quality programming that they connect with, regardless of language.”

More Hispanic viewers by sheer numbers would seem to indicate that the big four networks — ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox — would have to begin acknowledging their existence in ways beyond token characters on mostly white shows.

The most-coveted U.S. TV viewers are turning to Univision: will we see more shows with Hispanic appeal on English-language TV?

Perhaps one of the big four will launch an English-language primetime soap similar to a telenovela?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/flick/public_html/wptest/wp-content/themes/FlickFilosopher/loop-single.php on line 106
explore:
| | | | |
  • RogerBW

    What has “Hispanic appeal” – the soap-operatic fast pace combined with the cast-iron guarantee of story closure, or the spoken language? I don’t know.

    If I were a TV executive reading this, I’d think that it’s time to abandon completely the concept of “seasons”. Sure, ratings go down during the summer. But the idea that all the new shows should start and stop at around the same time in the calendar leaves gaping holes like this, which practically anyone with even vaguely interesting programming should be able to jump into.

  • RyanT

    Not so surprising. Soap operas are usually big hits in other countries and they almost always air during prime time. Makes sense since with more women working, they are able to catch them more easily on prime time. Now think about when soaps air in those “English-language networks” i.e. morning or early afternoon. The schedule is just not accommodating.

    If anything they should try for more nightly soaps on prime time. Actually they tried this with MyNetworkTV (previously UPN) and failed… so who knows?

  • The most-coveted U.S. TV viewers are turning to Univision: will we see more shows with Hispanic appeal on English-language TV?

    Well, Ugly Betty (the most successful primetime English-language show based on a Hispanic soap opera to date) lasted four seasons–which is three more seasons than I expected it to.

    Then again, it depends.

    After all, whenever I talk to my Hispanic friends and relatives about the TV shows that they watch most, the name that comes up most often is House

    So, apparently Hugh Laurie has strong appeal in the Hispanic community. ;-)

  • Sandy

    I hope these ratings facts do help shake up the major networks programming models although the networks are dinosaurs and I wouldn’t be surprised if they go extinct pretty soon (evolve or die out allready).

    Occasionally the telenovelas are a fun way for me to keep what little Spanish I know from atrophying any further. They are Drama with a capital D. I started watching them with my Puerto Rican stepmom a few years back, and my dad, who is about as Hispanic as the Mayflower pilgrims, likes to rag on her about watching them. The funny thing is when they’re on he’s right there watching them with her.

  • markyd

    So, apparently Hugh Laurie has strong appeal in the Hispanic community. ;-)

    Well, this is odd, considering House is an Atheist. Hispanics tend to be very religious people.

    I rarely melt my brain by actually watching television, let alone network television, so all this means nothing to me.
    Aren’t soap operas pretty much “garbage” shows? No one who really loves a well told story and characters actually watches these. Do they?

    Considering the amount of children Hispanics routinely have, it’s going to shift even more as the years go by.

  • bitchen frizzy

    It sounds like the AP is trying to find a reason other than the growing Hispanic/Latino population in the U.S. for Univision’s popularity — Oh, well, there was nothing to watch on the English-language networks anyway.

    As far as the bilingual Hispanics in my life are concerned, it’s a case of both/and.

    TV viewers spend much time surfing the channels in the endless and often futile quest for shows that don’t suck. Bilingual viewers have more options. And yes, telenovelas have market appeal that the big four networks are only just beginning to figure out. They spend too much time trying to understand the appeal of the telenovela formula instead of just rolling with it.

    House has some of the ingredients of a telenovela, and it’s uncommonly popular.

    And then there’s soccer. For soccer fans, Hispanic networks are a goldmine compared to English-language networks.

  • Alice

    When Univision starts winning against first-run programs on the English-language nets, then things may change. But summer is a whole different ballgame.

  • Dre in Spain

    My flat-mate is Spanish as opposed to Hispanic. There is a world of difference.
    I have never seen him show one ounce of interest in Spanish language television (and we get both European Spanish and Latin American spanish over here).
    I remember seeing Soy Bette la Fea (ugly betty) and it being completely different from most South american tv. The subsequent appreciation from the denizens of Spain may have indicated that it could be a worldwide hit. Of course, it was completely different from the usual pathetic melodrama.
    Maybe it is an arrogance born from colonialism, who knows?
    My flat-mate still prefers english speaking dramas, preferably American Sci-fi, although he has started to appreciate Doctor Who. However his behaviour is not indicative of many of the Spaniards I knew who would adore all English television (during the 80s and 90s the spanish tv channels would put on classic comedy like The Young Ones and BlackAdder) and so many grew up with that humour in mind. My housemate doesn’t quite appreciate it. I tried so hard to get him to see the brilliance of “Misfits” compared to the slo-mo train wreck that was “heroes”.
    Hispanic tv, in particular the soap operas, have this old fashioned idea of wealth and family values, the more people realise that this is just a fantasy, the more people will be interested in other types of programming. Please excuse my ignorance, but I believe that many of the people who watch the ridiculous telenovas also have an unrealistic idea of success, and so with the years, they too will start to appreciate the more modern state of society, and will enjoy more the sadly realistic ideas of poverty instead of the fantastical idea of superwealth. In other words, give them a few years, and they too will be screaming out for well written dramas, instead of a ridiculous fantasy written in their own language.

  • Please excuse my ignorance, but I believe that many of the people who watch the ridiculous telenovas also have an unrealistic idea of success, and so with the years, they too will start to appreciate the more modern state of society, and will enjoy more the sadly realistic ideas of poverty instead of the fantastical idea of superwealth. In other words, give them a few years, and they too will be screaming out for well written dramas, instead of a ridiculous fantasy written in their own language.

    Telenovelas have been around since the 1980s. I remember one of my aunts using them as background music while she was working on her dressmaking business. And she grew up in poverty.

    For that matter, they were also popular with another aunt who came from a rich family and once worked as a nurse.And they were also popular with her college-bound daughters.

    Perhaps to first- and second-generation Hispanic immigrants, it’s a nostalgia thing. In my family, at least, the relatives who are most inclined to watch them are the same ones who were born on the other side of the border.

    As for the notion that future generations will grow out of it…well, my American-born sister grew up watching soap operas like All My Children and General Hospital. And it seems silly to pretend that shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives aren’t catering to the same type of audience that would watch telenovelas in the Hispanic world. Even Masterpiece Theatre could be said to be a type of telenovela–only more respectable–and wasn’t it Lady Di who admitted to liking Eastenders–yet another soap opera produced by a people supposedly too respectable for telenovelas?

    Yes, tastes may change someday but given the popularity of telenovelas during the last three decades, such change probably won’t occur right away. Only time will tell.

  • Dre in Spain

    Firstly I wish to apologise if I have demonstrated an ignorance towards people from South America. It wasn’t malicious, it was a lack of understanding from my point of view, although, to be honest we are different in our locations, you are in the US and I am in Europe.
    The south american people I have known in Europe start to get a different vibe during the second or third generation, (perhaps this is the feeling with every ex-pat?). With the UK, and the Lady Di example, this is erroneous, because she grew up in a priviledged background, and so she was not aspiring to a wealthy ideal, but more towards the normal level of wealth. In addition, it was a British soap opera, depressing and unrealistic, and fantasy. Trust me, nobody in the UK wants to live in the locale of Eastenders due to the incredible and fantastical crime that happens there.
    Having watched South american soap operas, (and promptly switched off) they portray everyone as unbelievably beautiful, rich and glamorous. I don’t believe this to be the norm. At least with Eastenders, people were poor and ugly, and therefore a bit more truthful.
    Soy Bette la Fea demonstrated that it was possible to have the main character as someone who wasn’t immediately attractive (although you knew that with a bit of makeup she would be gorgeous), and that her personality would play a major part in her success. This for me, was so different from the rest of the Latin American soap operas I have seen, whereby one gorgeous woman sits and shouts abuse at another gorgeous woman in the locale of a high class restaurant or stable or lobby or office or beauty parlour, etc. Every hispanic person I met in the US didn’t have that opportunity. They would have been more at home with Eastenders.
    Although, I wish to stress, this is from my experience, obviously your knowledge of US/hispanic tv is more relevant than mine.
    With best regards
    Dre in Spain.

  • I’m sorry for coming on so strong in my last post. I’m not a big fan of telenovelas but I have lived with people who were, and I tend to be a bit defensive on the subject since there seems to be a trend here in American to automatically consider anything Hispanic “inferior” simply because it’s different. Perhaps it’s my dubious way of showing “loyalty to my peeps,” to steal a phrase from another person who posts on this site.

    However, my issues aren’t yours and I actually welcome your posts since it seems unlikely I’ll be in a position to ever visit Spain or Europe and thus the only insight I get into that society are from books, movies, conversations with various foreign students I knew in high school and college–and your posts.

    So please don’t stop commenting here on my account. I grew up in a family of four kids and had a Latino father who encouraged us to discuss every subject under the sun. So perhaps my tendency to act like a knowitall (sabelotodo?) at times is genetic? Quien sabe?

    In the end, even the smartest among us are ignorant of something. If I didn’t learn anything from forums like this, I would not come here.

  • bitchen frizzy

    Hispanic tv, in particular the soap operas, have this old fashioned idea of wealth and family values, the more people realise that this is just a fantasy, the more people will be interested in other types of programming. In other words, give them a few years, and they too will be screaming out for well written dramas, instead of a ridiculous fantasy written in their own language.

    Escapism is a prime driver in movie and television markets.

    You mention serious dramas on English-language television, but don’t forget that those networks also carry popular escapist shows like Sex and the City.

  • Victor Plenty

    House is an atheist, and he also has a miserable train wreck of a personal life. His brilliance in his chosen profession may appeal to atheist viewers, while his various tribulations may appeal to religious viewers on several levels as reinforcing their ideas about the utility of belief. (I’m not saying the writers were thinking in these terms when they created the character, only that it could help explain the show’s appeal to religious people.)

    Getting back to the main topic, I have to wonder just how much Hispanic television MaryAnn has watched. I’m no expert, but what I’ve seen of it somehow manages to be even more male gaze centric and generally sexist than English language TV and film.

  • bitchen frizzy

    (I’m not saying the writers were thinking in these terms when they created the character, only that it could help explain the show’s appeal to religious people.)

    Maybe they just think it’s a good show?

    This notion that “religious people” would have inhibitions about watching a show that has an atheist character is just stoopid – do atheists avoid shows on principle if they have religious characters? – as is the notion that Hispanic TV viewers are sitting in front of their TV’s with rosaries in hand and crucifix hanging over the set.

    Stereotype much?

  • RogerBW

    Being fair, b-f, “religious people” in the USA is often shorthand for “people with nothing better to do than complain about whatever their preacher tells them they are offended by” – which increasingly means anything that isn’t all about their sort of religion. It’s a barely-sane but significant market which American programme producers can’t afford to antagonise.

  • bitchen frizzy

    Being fair, b-f, “religious people” in the USA is often shorthand for “people with nothing better to do than complain about whatever their preacher tells them they are offended by” –

    Um, yeah, and “Hispanic” is often shorthand for “illegal immigrant” but that’s not right. And some people use “feminist” as shorthand for “sexually frustrated man-hater” which is downright ignorant. There are a lot of other shorthand phrases like that.

    The shorthand use is the stereotype. Be smarter than that.

  • Victor Plenty

    Holy crap, bitchen frizzy. The image of people sitting in front of a TV with a rosary in hand is from your imagination, not mine, so keep it the frak away from me.

    What part of could help explain is so damnably difficult to understand? As in: one of many factors involved; NOT the sole factor explaining everything?

    Also nice of you to ignore the entire second half of my comment so you could pummel me over something I never said in the first place.

  • bitchen frizzy

    Holy crap, bitchen frizzy. The image of people sitting in front of a TV with a rosary in hand is from your imagination, not mine, so keep it the frak away from me.

    It’s not from my imagination. It’s from a previous poster on this thread who said it was odd that Hispanics would watch House, since they’re all so religious. Then your post continued with that line of thought, mentioning that same show v. religious people, so I was under the impression that you read that post. I’m taking issue with that whole train of thought.

    As for the second part of your comment, I answered it. Why does the appeal to religious people need to be explained? Why is it even remarkable that religious people would watch a show with an atheist character?

  • Victor Plenty

    The record of reality contradicts your claims about it, bitchen frizzy. NOBODY here said “ALL Hispanics are deeply religious.” The actual comment from markyd said only that Hispanics TEND TO BE very religious. When phrased with that kind of moderating language, such a statement is not a stereotype. It is simply a well known demographic fact.

    But you are so intent on being offended, you remove all moderating language, and accuse people of saying things that they absolutely did NOT say.

    As further evidence of the blinders you’re wearing, you never even acknowledged the second half of my original comment here, much less answered it. Here’s a hint: it wasn’t about religion at all.

  • bitchen frizzy

    It is simply a well known demographic fact.

    Is it? Is it true of all of them, or just the religious ones?

    You’re parsing my phrasing, so let me restate:

    The train of thought goes, It’s odd that Hugh Laurie has strong appeal in the Hispanic community, because Hispanics tend to be [since you insist on utterly literal references] religious (and this part, to me, begs the question about notions of the typical Hispanic viewer – what do you think the religious ones are watching or should be watching?), but maybe House’s popularity with religious viewers has to do with House’s suffering, and that might help explain why religious people would watch the show (as though this needs explaining or is somehow uncanny). So again, I ask, why is it even remarkable that religious people would watch a show with an atheist character?

    (The second half of your original comment was about sexism on Hispanic television. I read it, but I don’t see the relevance to the first part.)

  • Victor Plenty

    What I insist on is not “utterly literal references,” bitchen frizzy. What I object to is the twisting of words around to say the exact opposite of what was originally intended.

    And yet, here it is, happening again. It is not necessary for something to be “true of all of them” for it to be a simple fact about an overall demographic group.

    For example, younger people as a group tend to have lower rates of heart disease than older people. This is still true (and not an unfair stereotype), even if there are some young people who do happen to get heart diseases.

    Similarly, it is well known that there are higher rates of deeply held religious belief in the Hispanic population than in many other demographic groups, at least in the United States. In most contexts it is not even controversial to notice this demographic fact.

    There is one concession I’m prepared to grant you. Perhaps it isn’t so remarkable for devout believers to watch a show with an atheist character. I would probably have agreed with you on that much, without a whole lot of argument, if you had chosen to keep this topic moving along as a conversation rather than turning it into an attack based on distortions of what was actually said.

    Even if it isn’t remarkable, it could still be interesting to discuss various reasons (among the many possible reasons, not merely one particular stereotypical explanation) why people with strong religious faith might be attracted to a character who frequently and stridently ridicules any and all degrees of religious faith.

    It is not clear why you leaped to the conclusion that any such discussion necessarily implies negative stereotypes (such as the image of religious people constantly rubbing beads, which you decided to bring up for no apparent reason).

  • bitchen frizzy

    Even if it isn’t remarkable, it could still be interesting to discuss various reasons (among the many possible reasons, not merely one particular stereotypical explanation) why people with strong religious faith might be attracted to a character who frequently and stridently ridicules any and all degrees of religious faith.

    I’m not sure it would be all that interesting. My guess it they’re attracted to or repelled by the character for the same reason you are. Their brains aren’t wired differently than yours. The show’s popularity cuts across all kinds of demographics, and per Occam’s principle I conclude simply that people must really like it, with no “deep” explanation necessary for why people who believe differently than you, or than me, find it appealing.

    Similarly, it is well known that there are higher rates of deeply held religious belief in the Hispanic population than in many other demographic groups, at least in the United States.

    It’s a common belief. Is it true?

    According to the current Gallup poll (+/-4%), 63% of U.S. Hispanics claim to attend church monthly or more vs. 54% of U.S. residents as a whole – a somewhat higher percentage but not markedly so. And it’s hard to measure “deeply religious” but churchgoing Hispanics are much less likely to identify themselves politically as supportive of the GOP or religious right than are churchgoing Americans in general, FWIW. It doesn’t translate definitively to influence on television viewing habits, but proportionately fewer Hispanics have the religious fervor and activism of the religious right than U.S. residents in general.

    In any case, fewer than half of Hispanics attend church weekly, so it’s certainly not true that “Hispanics tend to be very religious people”. That’s just false. The tone of markyd’s post inspired my crack about rosary beads, not anything you said.

    Also relevant, in Latin America, where most Hispanic television programming originates, church attendance is actually lower than it is in the U.S. Hispanic immigrants and their descendants become more religious on arrival – U.S. culture is more devout than Latin American culture (and I would venture that poverty levels in the immigrant population has something to do with higher rates of religious attendance than the gen pop but I can’t find those statistics so I’ll leave that in parentheses).

    Thus, most Hispanics are not very religious (that’s a false stereotype), and most religious Hispanics are actually more moderate – in their politics, at least – than the U.S. in general; so why should their religion have anything more to do with their enjoyment of House than anyone else in the country?

  • Victor Plenty

    The tone of markyd’s post inspired my crack about rosary beads, not anything you said.

    In that case, you could have saved us both a lot of time and trouble, if you’d quoted the post you were actually responding to.

    Your most recent comment is well researched, and I thank you for the new information from recent polls. Still, I take issue with some of your reasoning. Deeply held religious belief does not necessarily go hand in hand with right wing political ideologies. The GOP will be in deep trouble if more religious people ever realize the inherent contradictions between unregulated capitalism and any form of moral code, but there are plenty who already see.

  • markyd

    I feel I should respond, as my above comment seemed to have sparked an argument. I am talking about my own personal experiences with Hispanics. For one, I work at a landscape company. Landscape companies tend to employ a lot of Hispanics. In my conversations with them, most are Catholic/Christian, and are quite devout. I actually mentioned my atheism to one of the fellows once, and got the bug eyes of incomprehension.
    The neighborhood where I live also has a lot of Hispanics. One of my sons friends comes from a very religious family. The poor kid was sent off to bible camp for the whole summer.
    I know not ALL Hispanics are religious. Same as any group of people. I just don’t see the ones that I know watching programs like House.
    And yes, BF, thanks for the stats. Interesting stuff.

  • Since it was one of my posts on this thread which provoked Markyd’s comment, I feel obliged to say:

    1. My original comment about House being popular with Hispanics was partially meant as a joke.

    2. The basis for said joke comes from my own personal experience (which is admittedly limited) and not some scientific survey like the one Bitchen Frizzy cites.

    3. Most of the Hispanics I know who do admit to watching House tend to be American-born, speak English as a primary language and have at least a smattering of a college education. They’re more likely to live in the suburbs than the barrio and are more likely to watch American TV shows than anything on Spanish-language television.

    I don’t pretend they’re necessarily typical of all Hispanics. Indeed, the more Hispanics I encounter, the more difficult I find it to make generalizations about them.

    Especially since the generalizations keep changing. For example, it used to be taken as a given that most Hispanics were Catholics but thanks to the evangelical movement, more and more Hispanics are becoming Protestant and even those who are include everything from traditional Cradle Catholics like my oldest aunt to Charismatic Catholics like my oldest aunt’s oldest daughter. I’ve even known some Hispanics who would be familiar with the egg ceremony in Machete but that’s not a subject generally discussed much with outsiders.

    Anyway, I would not be surprised if the Hispanics Markyd turn out to not be big House fans. But then I don’t think those Hispanics would necessarily share the same tastes as the Hispanics I know anymore than my Hispanic American-born relatives necessarily have the same taste in TV shows as their Mexican-born kin.

    Getting back to the main topic, I have to wonder just how much Hispanic television MaryAnn has watched. I’m no expert, but what I’ve seen of it somehow manages to be even more male gaze centric and generally sexist than English language TV and film.

    Well, I wish I could say you were wrong about that but you aren’t. After all, it was Hispanic television that tried to promote the idea of Brazilian hottie Xuxa as a children’s show host–an idea that was quite popular south of the border but not so popular here in the US. And of course, the adult shows aren’t much better from that perspective.

    For that matter, there has been a great deal of controversy over the fact that a lot of shows on Hispanic TV–especially foreign shows–tend to cast light-skinned Latinos more often than dark-skinned Latinos–and to feature them more often in starring roles.

    On the plus side, though, their news show frequently cover topics and give perspectives which are rarely seen on U.S. news shows. Their coverage of the Falkland Wars was a lot less pro-British than the average U.S. news show and their coverage of the Gulf Wars was a lot less America-oriented than their English-language coverage.

  • Ay! For those who couldn’t guess from context, this part should read:

    For example, it used to be taken as a given that most Hispanics were Catholics but thanks to the evangelical movement, more and more Hispanics are becoming Protestant and even those who are still Catholic include everything from traditional Cradle Catholics like my oldest aunt to Charismatic Catholics like my oldest aunt’s oldest daughter.

    My proofreaders are out to lunch again.

Pin It on Pinterest