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TELENOVELA WATCH: First Thoughts On CORONA DE LÁGRIMAS & LA MARIPOSA

CORONA DE LÁGRIMAS
No telenovela this year has been more aptly titled than CORONA DE LÁGRIMAS (weeknights at 7 p.m. ET), which premiered this week on Univision. The tears are flowing from the very first scene of this Televisa production as the novela’s heroine, Refugio (Victoria Ruffo), is tossed out onto the street with her three young sons by the boys’ father, with his mistress by his side. Refugio goes on to cry three additional times in the first fifteen minutes, understandable given the momentous upheaval she and her children are facing. We are soon to find out, however, that Refugio cries a lot. She cries four more times in the second episode, and has cried at least once in each of the first five episodes. Victoria Ruffo has long earned a reputation as one of the best weepers in telenovelas, but by week’s end, I began to think she was attempting to break some perverse record.

The primary catalysts for Refugio’s tears are her three sons. Her oldest, Patricio (Alejandro Nones), makes her cry from his paroxysms of rage stemming from the frustration and shame he feels growing up and living in poverty. He is a law student who fabricates an elaborate, in his view, more dignified family history to tell his schoolmates, namely that his father committed suicide after losing the family fortune. He is dating Lucero (África Zavala), the daughter of Refugio’s best friend, Julieta (Maribel Guardia), a sweet, slightly scatterbrained girl with dreams of telenovela-like romance, who takes their relationship far more seriously than he does. Patricio is invited by a friend from law school to a fancy welcome home party for the friend’s cousin, Olga (Adriana Louvier), a spoiled, shallow rich girl with a cold, cynical high profile lawyer for a father (Ernesto Laguardia) – their wealth and privilege is everything Patricio most covets in life.

Refugio middle son, Edmundo (Josemaría Torre Hütt), makes his mother cry because he lies to her and stays out all night in a pool hall with friends who are embarking on a life of petty crime. Lucero catches Edmundo’s attention as well when she arrives at his house for a birthday party his mother is throwing for her.

Refugio’s youngest son, Ignacio (Mane de la Parra), makes his mother cry because he is so good to her. An auto mechanic, he is the only one of the brothers working, and he gives any extra money he earns to his mother to spend on herself, spurring the tears. Ignacio’s deal with his brothers is he will work to help put them through school, afterwards, they will return the favor and help pay for his education. Ignacio has a very sweet friendship with Chelito (Cassandra Sánchez Navarro), a tomboy whose mother owns the auto-repair shop Ignacio works at and is a mechanic as well. She would like their friendship to turn romantic, but she’s most comfortable dressing and acting like one of the guys, in her mechanic coveralls. Her attempts at being more overtly feminine, styling her hair or walking in heels, have through the first week been comically disastrous.

Thus far, CORONA DE LÁGRIMAS, has been a drama of the mundane, the prosaic struggles of a poor family trying to better their lives. If not quite kitchen-sink realism, it’s at least kitchen-sink melodrama.

LA MARIPOSA
Also premiering this week was LA MARIPOSA (weeknights at 9 p.m. ET), the latest Colombian “teleseries” for MundoFox. The hero, Manuel Martínez (Michel Brown), is a former agent lured back into an elite anti-crime squad called D4 by his tough-growling boss (Jimmy Bernal) to lead an operation to bust up a Colombian drug cartel with operations in Miami. Manuel was the best agent at D4, but as is a prerequisite for these types of shows, he is tortured by a past failure – he was unable to save his wife and child during a convenience store hold up.

The primary target of D4’s investigation is Alicia Benítez (María Adelaida Puerta), a beautiful, enigmatic, wealthy woman in charge of the cartel’s money laundering operations. Her latest job for the cartel is to move fifteen million dollars of drug money from the US to Colombia in a week, a difficult, dangerous job even for her, the best at her profession. It is established early on that failure of this assignment will mean her death. She sets about her task with a sang-froid, no nonsense determination, governed by a modus operandi to trust no one. Her husband (Lincoln Palomeque) uses her many business trips to Miami as an opportunity to sleep around with other women. They have a young daughter; while fleeing police in an airboat chase in the Everglades, Alicia gets a call from the little girl reminding her of a violin concert she is about to perform in that her mother promised she’d attend, obviously the latest in a string of events in her daughter’s life Alicia’s criminal activities forced her to miss.

After an informant allows D4 to bust up one of Alicia’s money moving schemes, Manuel manages to get close to her by posing as a high-priced “troubleshooter,” a man of seemingly infinite resources and contacts who helps her get her operation back on track. Also on Manuel’s team are Bill Smith (Salvador Zerboni), who is resentful of Manuel’s leadership of the operation; and Laurens (Ana Wills), who had a pass relationship with Manuel and is clearly still harboring feelings for him.

RELATED:
- TELENOVELA WATCH: ABISMO DE PASIÓN Finale; AMORES VERDADEROS Premiere; Five Years Later On UN REFUGIO PARA EL AMOR (November 3, 2012)
- TELENOVELA WATCH: AMORES VERDADEROS First Impressions; AMOR CAUTIVO Preview (November 10, 2012)
- TELENOVELA WATCH: AMORES VERDADEROS, UN REFUGIO PARA EL AMOR, AMOR BRAVÍO, ROSA DIAMANTE (November 17, 2012)
- TELENOVELA WATCH: UN REFUGIO PARA EL AMOR Finale Airing November 30; Plus, AMORES VERDADEROS, ROSA DIAMANTE & CORREO DE INOCENTES (November 24, 2012)
- TELENOVELA WATCH: UN REFUGIO PARA EL AMOR's Final Week; EL CAPO 2 Finale; AMOR BRAVÍO; ROSA DIAMANTE; Premieres: CORONA DE LÁGRIMAS, LA MARIPOSA (December 1, 2012)

R.G. Morin writes a regular column for We Love Soaps, "Telenovela Watch: A weekly look at the world of telenovelas for non-Spanish speakers." For feedback or questions, you can email R.G. Morin at argeemorin@hotmail.com.

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