Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"They just hang out in a house and fight with each other"

In terms of scripted TV drama, most people associate Latin America with the novela, soap operas famous for their popularity and over-the-top acting. Brazil, along with Mexico, is one of the most important producers of these shows which command a significant portion of the airwaves here. However, if you're looking for a good bout of television backstabbing, you can't overlook Brazilian reality TV.

My roommate and I have started following two reality shows here, both originally based on American programs. The first is called "Hipertensão," (hypertension), inspired by the show "Fear Factor." In the American version, each "episode" consists of a group of people competing for a sum of money which is awarded to the contestant able to complete three challenges in the shortest period of time. These tests follow more or less the same format; typically involving eating something gross, doing something high in the air, and getting tied to something heavy and being dropped into water. In the Brazilian show, this aspect is basically the same save for the presence of thong bikinis, which I'm pretty sure aren't allowed in American shows. Also of difference is that in "Hipertensão," you follow the same group of people across an entire season and, despite being aired everyday, there are only challenges on Thursdays and Sundays. I asked my roommate what happens during the other five days of the week, to which he responded that during those episodes, "the people hang out in a house and fight with each other."

The other show we follow is "A Fazenda," (the farm), which apparently also comes from an American version, though I never watch this and so am unable to provide a comparison between the two. The show here consists of a group of celebrities who live together on a farm and divide their time between several activities: about 5% is spent doing farm work, 10% working out, 25% is for challenges that are vaguely farm-themed, and 60% is spent sitting on couches gossiping or fighting. It should be noted that the people are allowed to gossip during the chores and exercise parts and most of the challenges are meant to get people mad at each other. Last week, for example, the contestants had to dress up in blue jump suits and throw horseshoes into the buckets with the names of the people they would like to leave the farm. Things got pretty tense...

While it's fun just hanging out and watching some girl in a g-string bikini get covered in tarantulas, all the fights in these programs are nearly impossible to understand. Anyone who has traveled can attest to the difficulties of understanding a foreign language under certain circumstances, some of the worst being: crowded places, right after waking up, conversations involving many people, joke telling, and listening to intoxicated individuals. Fights are especially bad since everyone gets worked up and speaks super quickly with a ton of swearing and slang. It would be very helpful for me if we could get some sort of judge or a mediator in there to get everyone to look into the camera and calmly explain why they're feeling upset.

Yesterday was Children's Day, aka. the best holiday ever. For me, it meant a five day weekend spent in Ilha Grande (big island), in Rio state. I rented a house with five Argentines, so I got to practice my Spanish, and we hung out with a larger group of two other Argentines, one of the other Americans studying in Juiz de Fora, and sixteen Brazilians. The weather was not cooperative at all, it was overcast the entire time expect for the last day, but we still had a ton of fun and the beaches were beautiful regardless. You can see some pictures I put up here.

From Blog pictures

Oh, and while playing soccer the other day, I literally scored the first goal of my life.

Um abraço,


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