When I saw Yo soy mi madre last summer before heading to Norfolk, I knew it was a piece that would stay with me for a long time. Firstly it’s actually the ULTIMATE telenovela. I grew up watching quite a few of them, and my Mom still watches several each night on Univision. So I know that a great telenovela includes some of the following: an orphan narrative–one where the orphan does not know his or her parents but lives quite close to them; a death; many affairs; pride; servants; endless drama.
It’s already been a year since I’ve seen this piece, and I remember clearly how highly produced it was. Collins hired the best Mexican soap opera actors out there. It also pokes fun at itself, with the camera stepping too far outside of sets, tracks revealed, etc.
Collins (or his consultants) were able to condense into one hour, all that people love about telenovelas, and all that a telenovela can tell us about ourselves. I love that. People love telenovelas because it gives them hope. You can believe that somewhere, you have a wealthy parent who is searching for you, ready to rescue you from your circumstances. You have hope that there is some kind of justice out there–hardly any murder goes unpunished in a telenovela. Heck, half of the time, people do not die in telenovelas! They come back, after a long recovery or period of hiding. Ultimately a telenovela often promises you, or suggests to you, that you’ll be able to live the life you “deserve” which is often a life of comfort.