With summer just around the corner, it’s time to soak up the hot sun with equally sultry telenovelas. Featuring all your favorite themes of murder, revenge, enemies become lovers, love triangles, needless male shower scenes, lustful looks and passionate hugs, all set against a backdrop of a tropical climate teeming with tension. To fuel conflict, many telenovelas share a common theme of the Latin American drug trade, which is an unfortunate part of the landscape of the countries they hail from. Still, there are more light-hearted series that encompass frivolity and melodrama.
If you’ve ever thought that Netflix series you’re binge-watching is ending too soon, you’ll be glad to know that there’s no shortage of episodes in telenovelas to keep you hooked well into the summer months . most with over sixty episodes! So brush up on your Spanish skills and immerse yourself in these addictive stories starring heroes and heroines you’ll soon fall in love with.
‘La Reina Del Sur’ (2011–present)
It may not be so new today, but there was a time when women didn’t rise up the ranks in drug trafficking and became cartel leaders. Teresa Mendoza was the first woman to take control of drug trafficking on three continents, though that’s not exactly commendable but an impressive feat indeed. La Reina Del Sur follows her humble beginnings working to make ends meet until she falls in love with a member of the Mexican cartel. When it turns out he’s been killed, she must go on the run, starting over from the bottom rungs of the cartel, using her street savvy and previous knowledge to eventually work her way to the top.
La Reina Del Sur was adapted by a Spanish journalist from the true crime novel of the same name, Arturo Pérez Revertewho followed and interviewed Mendoza to share their story. Kate del Castillo Stars in the telenovela version of La Reina Del Sur. It has since been adapted for American television Queen of the Southmain role Alice Braga as Mendoza. Both are equally addictive (pardon the pun).
You can watch La Reina Del Sur here and Queen of the South here.
“Sin Senos Si Hay Paraíso” (2016 – 2018)
plays in Colombia, Sin Senos Si Hay Paraíso tells the story of a pregnant mother, Hilda Santana (Catherine Siachque), a woman from a humble background, is told about the tragic murder of her daughter Catalina Marín (Carmen Villalobos), by the cartel. Upon hearing this, the anxiety she feels causes her to go into preterm labor. She gives birth to another daughter and also names her Catalina “La Pequeña” (“The Little One”), since her older sister who was killed is known as “La Grande” (“The Big One”).
Fearing her younger daughter, played by Carolina Gaitan When a teenager turns to prostitution to escape poverty and also falls victim to a cartel, Hilda places a yellow border around the entrance of her home to prevent Catalina from leaving her shelter. Unfortunately, she all too unknowingly becomes involved with a cartel leader, Yésica Beltrán (Majida Issa), who held a grudge against La Grande, and La Pequeña, Hilda, her father, Albeiro Marín (Fabian Rios) and La Pequeña’s friend Hernán Darío (Juan Pablo Urrego) are wrongly imprisoned for this.
The title reflects the idea that many young women in Colombia resort to surgery to work as prostitutes and escape poverty, but Hilda has taught her daughters to avoid that route and live happily ever after, despite their circumstances. Murder, revenge and the fight for loved ones are the focus of this captivating telenovela.
You can view it here.
“The Queen of the River” (2018-2021)
Back in Colombia, against the background of the drug cartel, The Queen of the River chronicles the life of a young and talented singer/songwriter, Yeimy Montoya (Maria Jose Vargas) who met a heartless high school crush, Charly Cruz (Juan Manuel Restrepo), after taking him to one of his uncles, Dúver Cruz “Manín” (Lucho Velasco), a high-level cartel member. Manín is also responsible for the murders of Yeimy’s parents.
Yeimy is also mistakenly jailed, but is given the opportunity to go undercover for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to take down Manín and Charly. When that fails, she is given a new identity as in-demand music producer Tammy Andrade and reenters Charly’s life to finally get her revenge. Love triangles and sweet revenge dominate this telenovela, but inner peace, true love and beautiful reggaeton music make for a satisfying ending.
Be part of it here.
‘Undercover Law’ (2018–present)
In this Colombian telenovela, based on a real-life group of women who formed a special police squad, a team of undercover female agents infiltrate the country’s drug cartels by becoming members. They constantly face moral dilemmas as they gather inside information about the cartels they are planted in.
Again, social commentary becomes a dominant focal point for Colombian telenovelas, as does the constant danger and delicate balance between life and death. This telenovela will keep you on your toes as these women dive deeper and deeper into murky waters.
Check it out here.
“The Road to Love” (2019–present)
Now for a much more light-hearted Colombian telenovela, albeit with some serious life situations. Cecelia, nicknamed “La Chiqui” (Katherine Escobar Farfan), is the youngest daughter of a truck family. When she finds out she’s pregnant at 16 by a duplicitous man she dated, Samuel (Mario Espitia), she tells her father, Don Armando (Caesar Mora). He immediately ostracizes her and forces her to leave the house.
In an industry dominated by machismo and traditional ideologies, La Chiqui must make her way and prove to her male colleagues and her father that she has as much brawn and guts as any man. Juan Manuel Restrepo out The Queen of the River also stars as the much nicer and wholesome love interest for La Chiqui in this series. The telenovela deals with societal prejudice, misogyny and outdated perspectives, but is ultimately uplifting.
Be inspired by women’s power here.
‘Anything for Love’ (2020–present)
As Joaquin (Carlo Torres), a mechanic, goes in search of his missing sister Alba (Valeria Galvis) he meets the up-and-coming singer Irene (Ana Maria Estupinan). They have a whirlwind romance while chasing their dreams, but Joaquín becomes embroiled in organized crime and harms their blossoming relationship.
This telenovela is about the fragile hold on what is pure and good and gets entangled in the dark side of humanity. A classic starry cross love story mixed with an expansive journey well worth investing in.
Fall in love here.
“The Marked Heart” (2022–present)
If you’ve seen the epic and classic 2003 telenovela, Passion de Gavilanes (and if not, put it on your list – available to stream on Peacock), you might recognize the clues in this telenovela: Ana Lucia Dominguez and Michael Brown, played Libia Reyes/Ruth Uribe and Franco Reyes respectively. In The marked heart, the two no longer play brother and sister, but a couple of unhappy lovers. Devastated by the brutal murder of his wife in order to harvest her organs, Simón (Brown) insists he finds those responsible in the world of organ trafficking. During his secret search, he falls in love with Camila (Domínguez), who happens to be the heart of his wife Valeria (Brown’s real partner, Margarita Muñoz).
Filled to the brim with enticing and addictive tropes that telenovela fans are used to, The marked heart will make you want more; As this is a shorter series, fear not, Season 2 is in the works. Another mind-blowing thriller set in Colombia that you can sink your teeth into.
Check it out here.
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