No Lo Entiendo

Why is sexual infidelity such a popular plot device?

As a means of revision, I’ve watched four episodes of a Spanish TV series – mostly because they speak VERY fast, and if I can understand them, then I can DEFINITELY understand the exam track, and also because they have some really good vocabulary and my Spanish teacher suggested it.

And, don’t get me wrong, it’s been really helpful, because you’re learning and being entertained (for the 61% of the time that you actually understand what’s being said) at the same time.

But I just don’t understand why cheating partners and complex love triangles are necessary.

The program I’m watching, ‘Velvet’ on Netflix, is originally in Spanish, and I’m using Spanish subtitles, because the actor’s mouths move so fast I can barely even grasp what they’ve said before someone replies to them. (!) Set in 50s and 60s Spain, it focuses around a fashion retail store, the eponymous (no surprise) ‘Velvet’ and follows the life of ‘el dueño’, the owner of the store, Alberto Marquéz. He and Ana Ribera, a woman who works for the retailer as a seamstress, have been in love since childhood, and after a botched attempt at running away together (he crashed the car when he heard on the radio that his dad, the original owner of the store, had committed suicide) they decide to just stay with the way things are.

But naturally, that doesn’t work out. After he proposes to her, he finds out that ‘las galerías de Velvet’, the ‘Velvet galleries’ are in a lot of debt. Too much debt, as the plot goes, to even continue as it is. It appears that Ana will have to marry a broke heir. (Gasp. Shock. Horror.) So, what’s the solution for Alberto?

Ask for money from a rich man, whose daughter, Cristina, is enamoured with him. And of course – herein lies the initial birth of complex love triangles – Cristina’s father says he will give Alberto ALL the money he needs… if Alberto will marry his daughter.

Let’s not forget that Alberto is already engaged here. But then, of COURSE, Alberto is conflicted – because he NEEDS the money, but he also NEEDS Ana – and tells her the choice he has. So then, of COURSE Ana does the ‘right’ thing and breaks up with him so that he can save ‘las galerías’, but obviously, after them both being so damn self-righteous, they’re both heartbroken. And thus begins the love triangle. Ana is in love with Alberto. Alberto is in love with Ana. Cristina (i.e. the source of money) is in love with Alberto. Alberto breaks up with Ana to marry Cristina. (They’re not married yet but please be aware that this has all literally happened within 4 episodes!)

That’s not even the best part. Ana almost goes to Barcelona on a train, when she hears Alberto propose to Cristina at a huge press event, but then she doesn’t. She just changes her mind, just like that. Even though her suitcase was packed and she had a dramatic journey to the train station and everything. And you know how we find out she didn’t leave? Alberto goes home from the big party (where he publicly proposed to Cristina) and Ana is just in his house. She’s just IN HIS HOUSE. JUST THERE.

So that’s my first complaint. Why the complicated love triangle? Why couldn’t Alberto just say to Cristina’s dad, “You know what, mate. I’d LOVE to marry your daughter, but regretfully, I can’t. I’m already promised to another. Can we please try a different course of action that doesn’t entail me lying to your daughter or me being in a generally loveless marriage?” I’m not even going to try to translate that into Spanish. Not to mention that Cristina is just HELLA annoying – she constantly looks like a dying puppy. Alberto and Ana are STRESSING me out; even a person who didn’t understand what they were saying (in other words, me 49% of the time) would be able to figure out how WHIPPED they are on each other.

And to make matters better, some designer guy, called De la Riva or something (I don’t know!) who is CLEARLY in love (or at least, was at some point in his life) with Cristina, is coming to design a new range for ‘Velvet’. Like it’s so obvious, he keeps being like to her, “Estás muy guapa. Estás preciosa. Estás maravilloso.” (Which means, “you’re so pretty. You’re beautiful. You’re marvellous.” Which is dodgy because, like Alberto is standing RIGHT there. And OKAY, he doesn’t love her, but De la Riva doesn’t know that!) WELL I WONDER WHAT WILL HAPPEN NOW.

But it just gets worse. Ana’s roommate, Rita – who is my actual FAVE, she’s such a sweetheart – is in love with her sister’s boyfriend, Pedro. Not to mention that Pedro is WHIPPED on his girlfriend, Clara, but Clara has gotten a new job as a secretary of the office to Alberto’s best friend, Mateo. And – naturally, because what is a TV show without a womanising best friend? – Mateo seduces Clara and Clara is torn between her BOYFRIEND and a GUY WHO IS TRYING TO GET INTO HER PANTS. I guarantee she will end up pregnant for the SUB-DIRECTOR (yes, because not only do we like complicated love triangles and sexual infidelity, but also inter-class relationships; and very dramatically so) and he will ditch her.

Like, there’s nothing wrong with inter-class relationships (is that even a thing? that sounds so pretentious!) but why is EVERY single main relationship in the program EMPHASISING the idea of forbidden love? Ana is an orphaned seamstress, her man is the heir to a multi-million euro company. Clara is a sales-advisors-cum-secretary; her love interest is the best friend to said heir and the sub-director to said multi-million euro company. Rita is in love with the VERY much unavailable Pedro; the boyfriend of ‘su hermana’.

I could go on, but I won’t. (Only 12 more minutes to this revision break now…)

And what else? Well, Luisa, Ana’s other friend, has a very sick husband. An initially nice benefactor, a really rich man called Francisco, who gets Luisa her job back when she’s fired, and begins paying very DODGY attention to her when Luisa is helping his WIFE with her dresses that she buys, pays for her husband to get treatment in a hospital. Which is great right?

WRONG. Because in TV shows, when a rich man shows up and offers to help out a pretty young girl, we all KNOW what’s coming.

He makes a move on her. This disgusting old man literally tells her that unless she ‘thanks him’ (euphemism intended) then her husband won’t be able to keep his bed in the hospital. Which is ridiculous really. (And – another prediction – I don’t doubt she’s going to end up killing him, probably with some sewing implement, like scissors or a needle or something, I don’t doubt it for a second).

I mean, I can’t even keep up. I’ve watched four episodes, and so far there has been:

  • A suicide
  • A funeral
  • Some fainting
  • Dramatic carrying of said-fainted person
  • A failed elopement
  • A car crash
  • A proposal
  • A break-up
  • Another proposal
  • A long-lost son returning
  • Some sort of financial scam perpetrated by said ‘long-lost son’
  • Like 3 or 4 affairs (I can’t keep up?)
  • LOTS of blackmail – so much, I didn’t know was possible
  • A few trysts (of course, Alberto and Ana)
  • Some broken hearts
  • Lots of tears
  • Dramatic raining scenes
  • Political Intrigue (ay! Get some History knowledge up in here…)
  • Some foreboding break-ups
  • Implied incest (see: ‘long-lost son’)
  • Stolen stuff (dresses, kisses, money, hearts, you know the sort)

Anyway, I regret searching ‘Wikia’ because I found out something that I REALLY didn’t want to know. So know, if I watch it, rather than reading the subtitles, all I’ll be thinking about a certain character is, “I’m watching a dead man walking.” And that makes me cry a lot. So I don’t think I can watch it anymore for the plot; I’ll just watch it for the vocabulary.

I mean, on the plus side, I now have two sheets of A4 paper, both double-sided with new words and such that are relevant to my course. Which is good right?

But I still have to ask:

Why is sexual infidelity such a popular plot device?

There are very few TV programs in general that steer entirely clear from this plot device. (Except for maybe ‘Downton Abbey’ but there are definitely a lot of sex scandals in that even still…) But why? – is my question. Are the writers and directors so bored they feel like they have to include this ‘exciting’ device? Or is a TV program just not complete without people who cheat and don’t (or do) get caught?

Either way, ‘no lo entiendo‘.

My revision break is over, so now I must desaparecer.

The Faerie Squad Mother x

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2 thoughts on “No Lo Entiendo

  1. I loved reading your synopsis. Just one thought to add. I initially thought De La Riva was in love with Cristina, too, but now I’m fairly convinced he is gay. Or course, in that time, in Franco’s Spain, that was not something to be open about.
    Also, God, YES, Cristina is annoying.
    As to your question, and speaking from my own personal perspective, I imagine titillating bored, middle aged women is he goal. I can’t stop binge watching, and particularly enjoyed the whole Maximiliano/ Doña Blanca steamy affair. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is so incredibly amazing to find someone who understands and also loves Velvet! (!) Honestly, I didn’t think anyone existed who would read my little whiny blog post about it, so I’m so glad you liked my synopsis. 🙂 I’m on Season 4 now (it’s not on Netflix just yet, so I’ve been watching it via an online fan forum) and the plot gets more and more wild with each episode… I can’t keep up!
      Yes, De La Riva is gay, but you make a good point. And I doubt he’ll ever come out in the program; it’s probably too complex and messy a plot device for the writers, but who knows?
      By Season 4 I wanted to actually strangle Cristina, she’s the WORST.
      Max/Blanca was the most hilarious love affair I’ve ever watched in TV history. Honestly.
      I won’t fangirl too much or we’ll end up comparing notes in the comments LOL.

      Like

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