As part of my summer binge, I decided to watch the 189-episode telenovela, Lo Que La Vida Me Robó (What Life Took from Me,) on Netflix. I finally finished watching it. That was one long binge! As a viewer, I enjoyed its riveting and twisting storylines. As a writer, I appreciate the show for its characterizations.
Unlike U.S. soap operas, telenovelas come to a conclusion. Since the end of the main story will be reached, the characters are compelled to change and grow, or so one would hope. I felt this was done particularly well with Lo Que La Vida Me Robó.
The main story concerns a love triangle between lovely young Montserrat Mendoza and her suitors, Alejandro Almonte and José Luis Álvarez. Montserrat plans to run away with José Luis, a marine stationed at the local naval base. However, her money-grubbing mother, Graciela, forces her into the arms of Alejandro, who just inherited a large fortune.
Sounds fairly typical, but it’s not. At its heart, this is a rags-to-riches-to-rags story. Money is the root of all evil and those with it, or obsessed with becoming rich, find themselves far unhappier than those without it. At one point, one of the characters says he is glad he lost his fortune because it had brought nothing but evil to his life.
As the main protagonist, Montserrat changes over the course of the series, going from a naïve and sheltered girl to a strong, determined woman. She makes mistakes, some of them pretty bad, but she also learns from them rather than repeating them endlessly.
The other main and secondary characters grow and change, some for the better, some for the worse. Avarice and vengeance play a huge part in how the stories progress. Some characters overcome their worst instincts while others cannot or will not.
I was impressed by the depth of the characters and by how their story arcs played out. As an author who is writing a series, I took note of how the characters progressed and how each pitfall and triumph made them change and yet remain the same person.
It can be hard to keep momentum going in a series. Lo Que La Vida Me Robó is an example of how that can be done. Watch it for the excitement and fun of a juicy good drama, but also appreciate the writers for knowing how to tell a story.