Beginning as ‘literary adaptations of classic texts,’ Colombian telenovelas have covered all types of topics, in the process creating a variety of memorable characters. More recently, these shows “have dealt with the social violence of viewers’ daily lives, but melodramatic plots that avoid topical issues are becoming more popular.” A handful of fairly recent shows have set Colombia apart as a country exporting some of the best TV viewing. The following seven telenovelas from the ‘90s, ‘00s are your next, binge-worthy, guilty pleasure.
Escalona was a ‘90s novela starring Colombian star Carlos Vives, and Florina Lemaitre Jiménez. It focuses on the life of vallenato singer-songwriter Rafael Escalona. In addition to a love story, the show is filled with Escalona’s songs.
Cafe con Aroma de Mujer (1993)
Actress (and onetime wife of Carlos Vives) Margarita Rosa de Francisco plays Gaviota in this popular novela from 1993. She works in the coffee fields and meets Sebastián, son of the owner of one of those farmlands. Their true love has to fight in the face of class differences, time and distance.
Las Juanas (1997)
Calixto Salguero has five illegitimate daughters – and they’re all named Juana. Juana Valentina searches for her other sisters, and in the process, we learn about each of their lives.
Yo soy Betty, La Fea (1999)
Betty La Fea, the tale of a not so attractive yet very competent employee at a Colombian fashion company became a worldwide smash. It was rebroadcasted worldwide, and recreated in over 20 countries, including the U.S.’s version, Ugly Betty.
Pedro el Escamoso (2001)
Pedro is an unlikely ladies man. He escapes trouble in his small hometown to find fortune in Bogota. In the process, he meets Paula, an unrequited love that he pines for.
Sin Tetas No Hay Paraiso (2006)
Based on a best-selling novel by Gustavo Bolivar, Sin Tetas No Hay Paraiso is the story of Catalina Santana, a girl from a poor neighborhood in Pereira, who believes that breast implants are the key to her salvation. This leads to a life of prostitution, crime, money, murder, and chaos. This novela spawned the equally popular 2008 remake Sin Senos No Hay Paraiso, and the 2016 and ‘17 sequels Sin Senos Si Hay Paraiso.
El Último Matrimonio Feliz (2008)
This is the story of six interconnected women who are all going through some kind of marriage issue. The show demonstrates the strength of women in the face of adversity, the challenges that come with maintaining a relationship, the struggle to balance family and work lives, and other important issues.