"Official" Telenovela and Series (in Spanish) Reviews and Recommendations

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James29
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"Official" Telenovela and Series (in Spanish) Reviews and Recommendations

Postby James29 » Sun Jan 21, 2018 4:17 pm

For a while I've wanted to start a thread for reviews and recommendations of telenovelas and series in Spanish. When you finish a telenovela or series please come here and give us your review and recommendation. I'd like to try to avoid movie reviews and reviews of series that are dubbed. Here are the ones I can remember watching:

La Reina Del Sur: Good quality production and acting. At the time I believe it was the most expensive and most watched telenovela in history. Based on the book by the same name. It is about a Mexican woman who inherits a drug running business and flees to Spain to become a kingpin in the drug industry. This was very early on in my Spanish study days so I did not understand everything. Length was 63 regular length episodes. There was a good mix of Spanish varieties. This is a good telenovela to watch.

El Capo: This too was a well produced high quality series with good acting. It is about a fictitious drug cartel leader who is fleeing from the Colombian government. There are three seasons. I watched only the first season which had 90 episodes. The characters/actors are from Medellin and speak with strong accents. They use vos verb conjugations all the time. I liked the show and even though it is about drug dealers it was more about the characters and "the chase" than about the drug industry. For a long time I had it on my list to watch season two, but I never got around to it. I would recommend this telenovela and strongly recommend it if you are looking for a good show in the Medellin accent.

Los Miserables: This was a Telemundo production based on the Victor Hugo book. I never read the book so I don't know how closely the story followed the book, but I imagine it must have strayed considerably. The lead actors and actress are the top Mexican telenovela actors and the quality is good. It has something like 125 episodes of regular length and I found many of the episodes dragged along like they need to fill up space. That being said, it was very good and it kept my interest the entire time. There were some cheesy soap opera-ish type things like people falling down stairs when they were pregnant and there was an important part of the main plot that involved an unknown evil twin. At times I felt the editing was not the greatest as it seemed to not explain things like the sudden disappearance of characters. Overall this was a good telenovela. I would recommend it especially for people looking for a long Mexican easy to follow series.

El Chapo: This was produced for Univision and is on Netflix. There is a second season now, but I only watched the first season. The seasons have 12 or 13 regular length episodes. I found it was ok. It seemed quite documentary-ish most of the time. There was not really a plot, rather, just an ongoing following of El Chapo's life. For those who may not know, he was the biggest recent drug dealer in Mexico. I am biased against drug telenovelas/series so I did not particularly enjoy this. I note that it does have the audio description feature which I love. If it did not have that feature I would probably skip it. I'll probably watch season two sometime but I'm going to save that for when I don't have something more interesting/pressing on my list. Watch this if you want to see lots of killing and drug dealing.

Cuando Conoci al Chapo: This is a three part series of roughly one hour episodes on Netflix. It was basically a documentary of Kate del Castillo's interview/visit with El Chapo and the aftermath. It has the audio description feature which I love. I thought it was very well done and it kept my interest the whole time. It was something "different" which I like. If the subject matter interests you or if you are looking for a short documentary series I would recommend this.

Sobreviviendo a Escobar: This was a 65 regular length episode series following the life of Pablo Escobar's right hand man, JJ, after Escobar dies. JJ is put in jail and there are ongoing struggles with controlling the drug industry from in the prison and the various groups of prisoners struggling for power. The best thing about this is that it is a long series with the audio description feature. Other than that, I did not care for this show much at all. It is just non-stop killing, back stabbing, drug running, etc. There will be more murders and dead bodies in this series than any other show you have ever seen. They speak in very slangy Medellinish accents. This was one of my least favorites shows and the only reason I did not quit it was that I am stupidly stubborn and it also has the audio description feature.

La Nina: This is my number one recommendation so far for learning Spanish. It is an 86 regular length episode series about a young lady who was captured by the Colombian guerrillas when she was a young child. She gets out and then starts a real life. She gets into medical school. Almost the entire series is about her life as a medical student and the struggles she faces. It has the audio description feature which I love and it is a very long series. The plot is easy to follow and interesting. All things considered I think this is the best show I've watched for Spanish language learning.

Ingobernable: This is a 15 episode series made for Netflix by Kate del Castillo. There will be a second season. This was a VERY good show. The star is played by Kate and she is the first lady of Mexico. The president is killed and she is the prime suspect. She flees and tries to prove her innocence. It is non-stop action. The production quality and acting is great. The episodes are in the 35-55 minute range, but not consistent in length. There is the audio description feature which I love. This show turned me into a Kate del Castillo fan... especially episode 10 :). I definitely recommend this show. Only thing I did not like about it was that there were only 15 episodes and I'd like more for a perfect Spanish learning series.

Club de Cuervos: This is a three season series on Netflix with a total of 39 regular length episodes. I believe there will soon be a season four. I generally liked this show even though it is VERY different. It is a comedy. It is about a brother and sister who inherit a soccer team in Mexico after their father suddenly dies. It is quite often ridiculous in the plot. They use very slangy Mexican popular Spanish to the extent that I believe it was intended to be funny how the exaggerated their slang. My Spanish was advanced at the time and I sometimes felt like I should put on subtitles. I did not like how they often put in "shock value" things that were just disgusting. There were many unnecessary scenes that were put in to show deviant sexual acts simply to shock you. It has the audio description feature which I love. I am not much for comedy shows, but I liked this show and I will definitely watch future seasons. I'd have to recommend this show especially for someone looking for a Mexican comedy or for someone who likes soccer.

Juana Ines: This was a seven part series in Netflix about the life of this apparently real historical person. She is living in Mexico when it is first colonized. She is smart and loves to study, but is confronted by sexism, etc. It has the audio description feature which I love. It is in Mexico but they speak Spain Spanish. It felt like I was watching a PBS historical series. It also seemed to want to push a certain political agenda a bit too much. I did not really like the show, but it certainly could be good if you are the type of person who likes PBS historical documentary type stuff.

Estocolomo: This was a great Argentinian 13 episode show. It is about a journalist, a prosecutor and a third guy (I think he was a cop or detective, but I watched this a long time ago). They investigate a series of kidnappings of women. The female star journalist gets kidnapped. It is extremely high quality. The plot is extremely confusing/intriguing/shifty. You will not understand what happened, but that is the way it is supposed to be... even for natives. It has audio description which is a great feature. I really liked the show and have to recommend it. If you are looking for an Argentinian show this one would be good.

Cuatro Estaciones en la Habana: This was my type of show. I like gritty detective shows. The star is a hardworking gritty cop. There are four episodes of roughly 90 minutes each. It felt more like a four part movie series because each show really felt like a high quality movie. It takes place in Cuba and is very interesting. It has the audio description feature which I love. I rarely re-watch anything but if I ever re-watch something it will be this series. I just wish it had more episodes. It is great and especially so if you want Cuban Spanish. Highly recommended.

Celia: This is a telenovela about the life of Celia Cruz, the singer. I was very anxious for it because my preference is Caribbean Spanish and this was filled with Cubans and Puerto Ricans. It has 80 episodes so it is pretty long. I believe it was originally produced for Telemundo so it is good quality. The acting is pretty good. I thought the young Celia was great. Somewhere at about 2/3 of the way through the change the characters and have "old" actors to portray Celia's life as she was later in life. I did not like the show so much after the change and found it dragged for me toward the end. This show definitely met my expectations for Caribbean Spanish which was great, but it just was not too exciting. If you like biographical stuff this would be fine. If you are looking for something extremely exciting this might not be for you.

Llamame Francisco: This was a short 4 episode series about the current Pope's life prior to becoming Pope. I found it boring. This is just not my type of thing. It was good for Argentinian Spanish and it had audio description which is great. I found the audio was difficult to follow and I believe it had something to do with how they recorded the audio. Anyway, if you have a particular interest in the Pope or Argentina you might like this. Otherwise, I found it quite bla.

Historia de un Clan: Here is another Argentinian show. It is a true story based on a family in the 80s who kidnapped people and held them hostage for ransom. I found it a bit disgusting and it seemed to glorify violence and disgusting behavior. I did not like that. It is well produced and the acting is good. It has audio description which is great. I would not highly recommend it, but it certainly was not bad.

La Casa de Papel: This was an amazing show. Season 1 is 13 episodes between 40 and 55 minutes. It is a show from Spain and there is supposed to be another season coming. It is about a group of criminals who get together and take over the central reserve of Spain where they print money. It is non-stop excitement and intrigue. It is fairly easy to follow. It has audio description. This was definitely the best telenovela/series I have watched. I wish there were many more episodes. Be aware that it is strong Spain Spanish. Highly recommended.

Chicas del Cable: Another show from Spain. This was produced for Netflix. There are two seasons of 8 regular length episodes. I have only watched the first season. It is well produced and the acting is good. I did not like the show. I just did not get into it at all. It is about a telephone company and the stars are the family who run/own the company and four women who are operators in the company. It is in Spain at the onset of when telephones were becoming big. They use strong Spanish accents. The two lead men are very famous actors in Spain and I'd imagine the women are too (but I don't know them). I felt they pushed a political agenda a bit too much. To over generalize I think this is more equivalent to what us Americans call a "chick-flick" as it just was not appealing to me but I could see women liking it. I will likely watch the second season as it was not too bad and I like the audio description feature.

El Internado: This was the first thing I tried to watch in Spanish and I had a hard time following it so I quit after 3 seasons. There are numerous seasons so there are tons of episodes. The episodes are in the 70-80 minute range. It is about a group of students at a spooky boarding school. It is classic Spanish television that was extremely popular when it came out. Even though I had a hard time watching it I liked it and I might go back and watch the full series now that I am more advanced.

El Marginal: this is another Argentinian series. I am watching it now. It is about a former cop who gets hired by a dirty judge to rescue the judge's daughter who has been kidnapped. In order to do so the cop has to infiltrate a gang in a jail. It is not bad, but I don't like all the jail stuff and violence. It is very strong Argentinian slang and even though I'd say my Spanish is advanced now I have decided to use subtitles for the first time. The show is fine, but not highly recommended.

I'll keep adding to this thread as I remember other series I have watched and as I finish more series.
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Re: "Official" Telenovela and Series (in Spanish) Reviews and Recommendations

Postby anamsc » Sun Jan 21, 2018 4:39 pm

Thanks for this list! This is really helpful. I don't really like novelas, but next time I'm looking for something to watch in Spanish I'm definitely coming back here.

James29 wrote:Juana Ines: This was a seven part series in Netflix about the life of this apparently real historical person. She is living in Mexico when it is first colonized. She is smart and loves to study, but is confronted by sexism, etc. It has the audio description feature which I love. It is in Mexico but they speak Spain Spanish. It felt like I was watching a PBS historical series. It also seemed to want to push a certain political agenda a bit too much. I did not really like the show, but it certainly could be good if you are the type of person who likes PBS historical documentary type stuff.


Just to mention for other interested Spanish learners: Juana Inés de la Cruz is not an "apparently real" historical person. She is an actual historical figure and a very famous poet. We read some of her work when I was in school, and I definitely recommend it to Spanish speakers or learners who like poetry.
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Re: "Official" Telenovela and Series (in Spanish) Reviews and Recommendations

Postby ScooterZ » Wed Feb 21, 2018 7:42 pm

Thanks for this list! I have bookmarked this for post-Destinos study.

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Re: "Official" Telenovela and Series (in Spanish) Reviews and Recommendations

Postby Andy E » Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:26 pm

A number of those are on my Netflix list 8-)

El Ministerio del Tiempo - An RTVE series about a team within the Ministry of Time whose job is to prevent the re-writing of Spanish history. Just bought by Netflix. All three series are now available on Netflix.
Available from: Netflix, RTVE Spain (VPN needed)
Subtitles: Español CC

A couple of placeholders as I haven't yet completed Series 1 of these two yet.

Isabel - The series is based on the reign of Queen Isabella I of Castile. If you like your history a good one to watch. The political machinations are an eye-opener and seem to be largely based on fact. Michelle Jenner makes a guest appearance in an episode of El Ministerio del Tiempo as the team returns to her era.
Available from: RTVE International (no VPN needed)
Subtitles: Español CC

Mar de plástico - This is about the investigation of a possibly-racial murder in the fictional town of Campoamargo, in the province of Almería - actually filmed in Campohermoso. The area is known as the plastic sea due to the number of greenhouses that cover it. The accents of the actors caused some controversy in Almería itself where people complained that everyone talked like they were from Seville or Madrid (with occasionally Cadiz thrown into the mix as well).... stars Rodolfo Sancho who seems to be the goto guy for Spanish TV as he's also in El Ministerio and Isabel.
Available from: Atresmedia, Netflix
Subtitles: Español CC

Edit: Added a where you get the series from and a bit of subtitle info. Note: Netflix series will also have English subtitles, RTVE you will have to source from elsewhere.
Last edited by Andy E on Sat Feb 24, 2018 5:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: "Official" Telenovela and Series (in Spanish) Reviews and Recommendations

Postby ilmari » Thu Feb 22, 2018 3:04 am

En otra piel - 'La historia de dos mujeres completamente diferentes que comparten el mismo destino trágico y a quienes un evento sobrenatural las unirá después de la muerte.' Two women share a tragic and supernatural destiny that binds them together after death. Based on the story 'El cuerpo del deseo' by Julio Jiménez. 154 episodes! http://www.telemundo.com/novelas/en-otra-piel

Cuéntame cómo pasó - 'La ficción se inicia en abril de 1968 y retrata la España contemporánea a través de las peripecias de una familia de clase media, los Alcántara, que vive día a día la transformación de la España franquista en una democracia moderna.' A Spanish television drama series which has been broadcast on La 1 of Televisión Española since 2001. The series recounts the experiences of a middle-class family, the Alcántaras, during the last years of the rule of Franco and the beginning of the transition to democracy: 19 seasons and more than 330 episodes, all freely available online with Spanish subtitles. http://www.rtve.es/television/cuentame/
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Re: "Official" Telenovela and Series (in Spanish) Reviews and Recommendations

Postby James29 » Fri Feb 23, 2018 6:57 pm

Andy E wrote:Mar de plástico - This is about the investigation of a possibly-racial murder in the fictional town of Campoamargo, in the province of Almería - actually filmed in Campohermoso. The area is known as the plastic sea due to the number of greenhouses that cover it. The accents of the actors caused some controversy in Almería itself where people complained that everyone talked like they were from Seville or Madrid (with occasionally Cadiz thrown into the mix as well).... stars Rodolfo Sancho who seems to be the goto guy for Spanish TV as he's also in El Ministerio and Isabel.
Available from: Atresmedia, Netflix
Subtitles: Español CC



You beat me to the punch on Mar de Plástico. I'm almost done with the second season and am loving it. I definitely recommend it. Interesting comment on the accents.... I don't know enough to tell, but I thought they sounded like the folks from Cadiz I know. It is definitely a bit tougher than "regular" Spain Spanish... they seem to eat the consonants at the end of words like they do on Cuba. I already cannot wait for season 3 to be released.
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Re: "Official" Telenovela and Series (in Spanish) Reviews and Recommendations

Postby reineke » Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:26 pm

I've added this thread to the list of Spanish resources
https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 364#p63364

See also: Netflix ideas (multilingual)
Includes a list of USA Netflix Shows Audio Described in Languages Other Than English
https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 88&p=97506
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Re: "Official" Telenovela and Series (in Spanish) Reviews and Recommendations

Postby sillygoose1 » Sat Feb 24, 2018 12:03 am

Ella es tu padre - A deadbeat dad goes undercover as an older female professor in order to try to win back his kids and wife while also trying to have his former one hit wonder rock band come back to glory. Really funny

Verguenza - A comedy show with Javier Gutierrez (Aguila Roja, La isla minima) and Malena Alterio (Aqui no hay quien viva) filled with black humor and will guarantee to make you cringe a few times

Epitafios - Argentine thriller about a psychotic killer. Only saw the first season but it was good

Vis a vis - Really gritty show about a female prison and some of the problems that go on in there. Can get really dark at times




Other series I haven't seen yet but look great with actors from Aguila Roja, REC, and La Casa de Papel:

El accidente - Remake of Turkish series Son

Estoy vivo - A serial killer kills a detective then the detective uses the body of a living one to solve the crime

Traicion - A terminally ill father has a few secrets that will change his family
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Re: "Official" Telenovela and Series (in Spanish) Reviews and Recommendations

Postby Andy E » Sat Feb 24, 2018 1:28 am

James29 wrote:You beat me to the punch on Mar de Plástico. I'm almost done with the second season and am loving it. I definitely recommend it. Interesting comment on the accents.... I don't know enough to tell, but I thought they sounded like the folks from Cadiz I know. It is definitely a bit tougher than "regular" Spain Spanish... they seem to eat the consonants at the end of words like they do on Cuba. I already cannot wait for season 3 to be released.


Los andaluces se comen las palabras 8-) Sadly there is no Series 3 as it got cancelled. Looking at the online comments was interesting as people who weren't from Almería but lived elsewhere in Andalucia had a different view. I can't find the link but I remember reading people involved with the show saying they were looking for a "representatiive accent" o algo por el estilo. To me it reminds me somewhat of my Glaswegian Grandfather commenting on James Doohan's Scotty.. he wasn't impressed ;) but we got the point.
Last edited by Andy E on Sat Feb 24, 2018 1:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Official" Telenovela and Series (in Spanish) Reviews and Recommendations

Postby Andy E » Sat Feb 24, 2018 1:35 am

sillygoose1 wrote:Estoy vivo - A serial killer kills a detective then the detective uses the body of a living one to solve the crime


+1 for this one. Forgot about it. Haven't watched past Episode One. RTVE International + CC Spanish
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