It’s not just football matches that have Brazilians glued to their TV screens. On Brazilian television the telenovela reigns supreme.
Telenovelas, prevalent across all of Latin America, are slightly different to traditional Western soap operas like Days of Our Lives. Brazil’s telenovelas typically run for around 8 months, and focus on a major plot line, with a few (usually complex) subplots. What makes them distinctive is that the plot is usually realistic and set across various classes, making them easy to relate to for a large section of the population.
Of course, regular sitcoms are also popular in Brazil. At the moment, like elsewhere in the world, reality television grips many. Did you know that Big Brother is still running and popular to this day?
If you want to practise your Portuguese, you can’t go wrong watching a Brazilian telenovela or sitcom. The dramatic storylines make it easy to follow, and the realistic contexts will give you some practical language to use.
Here are some popular Brazilian TV shows for you to watch:
A Grande Família
This famous sitcom has been running since 2001. As a remake of the original series, which was on air in the 70s, it is one of Brazil’s longest-running shows. A Grande Família (The Big Family) follows a wacky family, the Silvas, living in Rio de Janeiro. The show has some great carioca (a Rio de Janeiro local) caricatures, including the malandro (bad boy) Agostinho, and mommy’s boy Lúcio.
You can find most episodes on YouTube. Watch the first episode here:
Running from March to October in 2012, Avenida Brasil is a dramatic story about Rita, a woman who seeks revenge on her stepmother, who abandoned her at a landfill when she was a girl. This telenovela was an unprecedented success in Brazil, with the final bringing parts of the country to a standstill and the related Twitter hashtag #OiOiOiFinal trending at the top of world affairs on the social network. An estimated 80 million people watched the final episode.
Watch the trailer here:
The iconic show for teenagers in Brazil, Malhação (meaning Workout) is another long-running classic series. Centred around a group of teenagers attending a fictional gym club in Rio de Janeiro, this soap opera has a continually revolving cast, as each series focuses on a new set of teenagers.
Watch an episode from the current series here:
Caminho das Indias
Translated as India – A Love Story, this Emmy-winning telenovela aired in 2009, and was one of the highest-rated shows in Brazil. Set between India and Brazil, the plot spans from the 1950s to the 2000s. The complicated plot lines include forbidden love between castes, cross-cultural relationships, plenty of family drama and, ultimately, an examination of traditions versus modernity. All this is set against some incredible backdrops, making it a feast for the eyes.
Check out the trailer here:
Brazilian TV has plenty to offer the budding Portuguese student and the avid series watcher. Being up to date on the current telenovelas is one of the best ways to make small talk with Brazilians, since nearly everyone wants to talk about the latest episode!
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