The difference between telenovelas and U.S. soap operas (and it's a good difference, but I don't know why I'm telling you this) is that telenovelas end. All the loose ends are tied up and the actors shake hands and say, "See you at the next audition." Only in Spanish, of course. The U.S. soaps just keep recycling story lines and reshuffling romantic pairs until you're almost sure you're watching a scene that was on five years ago. General Hospital recently broadcast its ten thousandth episode, and the main difference from forty years ago is that it's in color now.
So today I saw the final episode of a novela I've been watching since its beginning several months ago. It's the first one I've actually watched from beginning to end, and I think we can give credit to TiVo for that. Thanks to digital recording technology, it didn't matter that this show came on at midnight. Thanks to TiVo, in fact, it doesn't matter when anything comes on, as long as I know ahead of time that it's going to be on at all. "TiVo, fetch." That's all I have to say, and I can decide when to watch.
It's very satisfying to see the last act of such a long-running drama. And La Usurpadora ended the way all novelas do, with one villain dead, another in prison, and a third in the nut house. (My apologies to all nuts and their advocates.) Not only do the two main characters end up at the altar (a wedding, that is, not a sacrifice), but other characters suddenly find themselves not only attracted but in the middle of a previously nonexistent relationship.
If I knew from episode one exactly (more or less) how things were going to end, why did I even watch? The language, the culture, the different kind of life and different way of looking at things. And the performances. I adored Magda Guzmán as the noble head housekeeper Fidelina, who had a dark secret in her past (who doesn't?). And of course there was Gabriela Spanic, who played (dramatic minor chord) La Usurpadora (and her evil twin).
Now it's over, and I have an extra hour freed up on weekdays. I suppose some other novela will be starting soon. I'll ask TiVo to check it out.