Why Russians Loved Latin American Soap Operas

| Los ricos también lloran capítulo 46 / Youtube
Zita Whalley

For most of the Russian masses, escape from the social and political chaos of the emergent Russian Federation was hard to find. The growing pains of the newly formed nation were mired in corruption, uncertainty and instability. For many, a respite from the daily drudgery was found in an unlikely source: the bright melodrama of Latin American soap operas.

It wasn’t just the Russian people that were undergoing an acute transformation. So was television. Channels scrambled to find cheap content to replace the air-time government-led programmes. One savvy producer at the Ostankino station took a punt on Los Ricos También Lloran (The Rich Also Cry), a Mexican soap from the 1970s. Although the station had predicted the show would be popular, it had no idea that it would be dynamite.

Turns out Russia loved Latin American soaps with an impassioned sincerity. Retitled as Bogaty Toszhe Plachut, the general public became enraptured with the programme and its popularity blazed across the post-Soviet states. It was estimated that 200 million Russian and ex-Soviets watched the finale (compare that to the 52.5 million Americans who tuned in to watch Ross and Rachel finally get it together in 2004.) And the soaps that followed continued to win over the hearts and the attention of the people.

Another hugely successful import was Simply Maria, a Mexican soap that chronicled the epic sagas of a peasant girl turned fashion designer. It is estimated that on average 140 million people tuned in across Russia and the post-Soviet states, and when the star of the show, Victoria Ruffo, toured Russia in 1994, fans went to great lengths to travel the country in the hope to see her perform.

These programmes were dubbed poorly in Russian, often with the original Spanish dialogue faintly buzzing below it. The storylines were elaborate, plot points were dramatic and characters were flamboyant and emotional. The soap’s fantasy worlds provided an hour-long window for Russians to get lost in, in a similar way to the preceding jangly colourful world of Bollywood, which had a big fan base in Russia during Soviet times.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BhetXh9gbfX/?tagged=losricostambienlloran

Some Russians found the sensational melodramas a much-needed break from the monotonous daily grind. One Simply Maria fan present at Ruffo’s Moscow concert in 1994 went on the record to say:

“… For me it’s psychotherapy. We live in hard times, in a grey, difficult country. It [Simply Maria] is like a fairy tale. I enjoy the bright colours, the bright interior decor.”

Others saw their own plights reflected in the predicaments Maria found herself in. Another fan explains: “She is like us. She suffers and so do Russian women; she falls in love, and so do we.”

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,100 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

X
Edit article