Spanish Soap Opera Has Mass Appeal

A Spanish soap opera was one of the most watched television shows in North Texas the night it premiered.

"La Reina del Sur," a telenovela, drew close to 2.4 million viewers across the country on Monday night.

While it may not sound like a lot of viewers compared to "American Idol" or "NCIS," it was the most-watched show of any language in New York, Miami and Houston, some of the nation's largest television markets.

In Dallas-Fort Worth, "La Reina del Sur" was the fifth most-watched show. The show was the most-watched novela premiere in Telemundo history.

For some, the obvious appeal are the scantily clad actors, the melodramatic plots and an abundance of love scenes. But for many, "La Reina de Sur" depicts a scenario that is very real: the consequences of a drug war.

"It speaks about issues that are directly related to our environment," said Carlos Rovelo, a professor of Mexican-American studies at Eastfield College. "In this case, it's the violence and drugs in Central and Latin America, Mexico and Colombia."

The show's plot is about an innocent girl who is thrown into the drug world and later becomes a drug lord herself. Unlike American soaps, telenovelas have a definite beginning and end.

"Even though the people that watch this show are in the U.S., their relatives might be back home and are telling them, 'By the way, it's getting very bad here,' so they can relate to the struggle. On the other hand, they're watching it on TV, and they feel connected to the issue," Rovelo said.

La Reina del Sur airs weekdays at 9 p.m. on Telemundo, Channel 39 in Dallas-Fort Worth.

English-speaking viewers can press the SAP button for English subtitles.

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