How Watching Telenovelas Is Bonding Time For Some Hispanic Families

Despite the prevalence of streaming, a UT-Austin junior says her family still tunes in to the soap operas on regular TV.

By Joy DiazJanuary 7, 2019 11:16 am,

Julie Garcia is a third-year journalism student at the University of Texas at Austin, and she comes from the town of Center in East Texas. She grew up watching telenovelas in her small town, and says she took the Spanish-language TV soap operas for granted – until she moved to Austin.

“I never really thought about the influence that telenovelas had on the Hispanic community,” Garcia says.

She says even with all the streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, families she knows still tune in to the TV lineup of telenovelas – especially families that recently immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico.

“That’s how it is; if you go into their homes, they’re always gonna have Direct TV, Dish Latino on,” Garcia says. “Everyone else has moved on but they’re still turning the TV on at 7 [p.m.]”

She says she remembers spending hours watching telenovelas with her mom when she was little.

“We’d watch, like, three consecutive novelas until like 9 o’clock,” Garcia says. “And I feel like that’s still happening, you know?”

The first telenovela Garcia says she remembers watching was “Rubí” – “It was so dramatic,” she says.

Garcia says growing up, she would talk about telenovelas with her classmates.

“People that are Hispanic, they’re always gonna, like, relate to it,” Garcia says.

She says it gave her a special connection with her peers and her community.

Telenovelas aren’t just entertainment; Garcia says they were also an important bonding opportunity in her family. She says others have also told her the same.

“That’s our time to get together,” Garcia says.

She says the novelas are especially important when family members work hard all day and can then come home and relax with one another while watching the shows.

“A lot of Hispanic parents, like, they work all day long,” Garcia says. “Even though they have this hectic schedule, even though they’re constantly working hard, they all come together at the end of the day, sit down together, and have this moment of special time.”

Written by Caroline Covington.