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6 Best Telenovelas of All Time: Marimar, El Clon, and More

First Posted: Jan 23, 2014 10:01 AM EST
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Our mothers made us watch them. At least, that's how it started before you were in front of the television at four o'clock sharp waiting for your novela to start. Nothing like an over dramatic Spanish speaking television show to get your nerves all worked up. I remember literally feeling stressed in high school when the protagonist of my novella was loosing her man to her evil rival.

Telenovelas, if you didn't know, are Spanish soap operas. Unlike American soap operas, telenovelas, or novelas for short, end in a few months, which is truly comforting because you get into them so badly that your heart wishes desperately for the happy ending to arrive. And men? Don't think we don't know that you used to sit with your moms to watch novelas too. It's basically inevitable to get away from watching them when you are threatened to starve if you dare change the channel.

"Cambiame la novela pa que tu vea!" It's all in good fun... hopefully. Here are some of the most memorable telenovelas of our teenage years.

1. "Marimar"

How can you forget the tune, "Ma-ri-mar auuhhh! Costeñita soy," as the time had arrived for Thalia to take you away with her charm. The telenovela "Marimar" which premiered in the Philippines in 1994 and on Univision in 1995 was a total hit. Thalia had just hit the ground running as the protagonist of this novela as well as singing the theme song.

The novela was about an island girl who lived with her grandparents in a hut on the beach and fell in love with the son of a wealthy farm owner. Of course the problem in almost all of the Spanish soap operas of these times is that rich and poor do not mix. Sergio marries Marimar despite his parent's disapproval to marry poor and well, his mother makes her life a living hell. Thalia is belittled, embarrassed and tricked into thinking Sergio will leave her for another rich young woman.

Thalia, the star of Quinceañera, Maria Mercedes and Maria La Del Barrio was going to be with us for years to come, becoming the most successful Mexican female artist ever. And we girls just remember how she turned that little flower dress in for the black gown after she married Sergio. You go girl!

2. Luz Clarita

"Luz Clarita," you could not get that song out of your head if you tried. My friends and I sat around a table in a restaurant the other night singing the theme song to "Luz Clarita," I know, we're super lame. But what does this prove? Those novelas will stay with you forever. Do you think back now and wonder how Daniela Lujan just managed to be so darn adorable? We were all around her age at the time of the telenovela in 1996 but we still kinda liked her.

In the telenovela Luz Clarita, an orphan, is a light in the lives of the miserable wealthy family who takes her in. Mariela, the house princess, sees Luz Clarita as a threat and makes her life even harder than it is. As she continues to find the mother she claims isn't dead, she hooks up the rich men with the poor housemaids and everyone lives happily ever after (nice recap eh?). You know what it was about this novela, as little girls we all wanted to be as charming as Luz Clarita, it only worked for some of us.

3. La Usurpadora

Oh my god, La Usurpadora. Gabriela Spanic was officially my first girl crush. The telenovela, which aired in 1998, was the story about -- yes, here we go again -- a rich very cranky woman and her poor twin. This telenovela was actually intriguing and we loved that we would get away with watching those steamy scenes. Anyway, the twins were separated at birth and when they run into each other one day, Paola (evil rich twin) threatens Paulina (poor good twin) into taking her place with her hot husband so she can go off on a vacation with her lover. How awesome is that?

Of course, what ends up happening is that Paulina falls in love with Carlos Daniel Brancho (yes, men's names in novelas are super long) and everyone likes "the new" Paola so when the real one comes back, it creates a big problem. As Paulina grows some cojones and refuses to leave her new life, Paola stirs some problems for her sister. It's such a great dramatic and crazy yet unrealistic story, that it makes it one of the best novelas ever. Plus men really liked it too cause Gabriela Spanic is really hot (by the way, she has a twin in real life, she was not on the show).

I swear, I want to watch it again right now.

4. Amigas y Rivales

My friends and I believed that Amigas y Rivales was the theme to our lives. Okay, so we weren't the privileged daughters of mega rich parents with really bushy eyebrows, but we could pretend right? Amigas y Rivales debuted in 2001, the rich kids' theme was a bit more likable in a novela.

Nayeli was probably one of our favorites. She was the housemaid who was the same age as the daughter of the "patron." Nayeli was often called a "naca," which meant a dumb poor girl. Though that sounds terrible, it has been trending in my vocabulary for years (I love that word). Again, teenage boys loved this one -- young Latinas in bikinis? Count them in.

The novela was aimed towards a younger crowd. Amigas y Rivales was a mix of teenaged drama, even acne, and the usual jealous woman trying to destroy everybody else's life. This telenovela was a great success in the Latin entertainment world.

5. Pasión De Gavilanes

Pasión de Gavilanes was an explosion of sexiness and we liked it. Three beautiful sisters meet three beautiful brothers and the drama that unfolds is great. The Columbian novela debuted in 2003 with Danna Garcia and Mario Cimarro taking our breath away. The plot takes place in a ranch where the Reyes brothers have returned to avenge their sister's death.

What they find, however, is that the Elizondo family consists of three lovely daughters who the brothers end up falling for. With revenge on their minds, hearts are broken and lies are created, making this one of the most intriguing stories ever. Latin television networks have replayed Pasión De Gavilanes countless amounts of times and each time the viewers are in high numbers.

And did I mention that everyone is really really hot in this novela?

6. El Clon

El Clon was not only a novela, it was a culture lesson. This Brazilian Telenovela was originally recorded in Portuguese and translated through voice doubles on Telemundo in 2001. Telemundo re-created El Clon with their own actors and debuted it in 2010. But nothing will ever replace the original cast and the impact that this novela had on its viewers.

The plot is like no other telenovela. Jade is a Muslim young woman who moves to Morrocco with her uncle Ali after her mother dies. Being used to a liberal lifestyle, Jade must convert to Islam and its strict laws towards women. At the same time a wealthy family from Brazil visits Morrocco with their scientist friend Dr. Albieri. Jade and Lucas, who has a twin back home, fall in love immediately. Jade is not allowed to date outside of Islam so she and Lucas plan to escape Morrocco together. Until Lucas' twin brother dies back home and he is too devastated to try to escape the country. Albieri and Lucas team up to create the world's first clone -- still with me?

This is the intriguing story of a culture; it's traditions and the possibilities of the new world. And the characters are also pretty hot. And they belly dance.

There's still so many telenovelas that I loved loved loved, but if I talk about all of them you will stop reading, I know your attention span because it's just like mine. Hope you enjoyed re-living these novelas and go ahead and download them all, we won't judge you.

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