Mas Sabe el Diablo is the 2009/10 Spanish telenovela (soap) produced by Telemundo. Like with everything else, I’m at least two years behind – but the advantage of that is being able to watch it more or less at a go. Or skip around if I want to. And when it is this long, you’d want to at some point.
The plot follows one Angel Salvador (played by the gorgeous Jencarlos Canela), the illegitimate child of Martin Acero, the villian of the piece. Angel has just been released from prison and (sort of) wants to start a crime-free life but circumstances, friendship, family ties and the need for money stand between him and his fresh start. In other words, life. His love interest is Manuela Davila, lawyer-cum-socialite, who also happens to be Martin’s fiance.
The function of secondary characters in soaps is not limited to providing sidekicks, love interest, comic relief or sounding boards. They are more – the little hooks without which soaps can devolve into musical beds. (I’m looking at you General Hospital!)
Mas Sabe el Diablo demonstrates ably how secondary characters can do more than be secondary. They are the linchpins of the story, connecting it to a coherent whole. At the same time, when the main story lags, the secondaries that intrigue keep one in the story – because really, how many times can you watch lovey-dovey stuff without yawning but, at the same, there cannot be perpetual drama happening to the same people without stretching credulity past elasticity.
Mas Sabe el Diable offers plenty of high drama and couples to root for.
Virginia – the strong woman, vying for presidency of her father’s company who has to fight her own father’s prejudice (Having proven herself, her father’s reason for not giving her said presidency is her gender!) – and Jimmy – the cop trying to find his father’s killer.
Mike – Jimmy’s partner and confidante, steady, sweet Mike – and Silvana – the younger woman who does not want to settle down in a permanent relationship. Quite a minor romance but I am intrigued enough by it to include it. Not popular enough to merit a screenshot, though.
Perla – impetuous young girl (so very immature) struggling with a newborn and headed towards self-destruction- and Topo – the boy next door/best friend who has been in love with her forever.
Christian – villian’s brother, troubled by his sexuality and Horacio – flamboyantly gay, best friend to Manuela, gives good advice and can be depended upon to smooth tense situations over with a joke that is never mean.
And, my favourite, Cachorro and Marina. Cachorro, son to bar-owner-who-does-dirty-deals, is in love with Marina, a dancer in La Cueva (said bar), sometime prostitute and kept woman of El Hierro. Cachorro does horrible things, says the worst things and can be incredibly whiny, especially with Dad. Yet I love him. More than I like Angel. Whoops. Perhaps because he is steadfast and loyal, and when he says “I’ll do anything for you”, he does. Like *spoilers*
standing by her when he found out Marina had had a sex-change operation (you read that right!). Or when he says “I’ll die for you”, he does (mainly ’cause he’s adorably stupid and no way he can outsmart ‘El Hierro’). It does not hurt, of course, that Cachorro is played by Juan Jimenez.
Marina’s transition from ‘I’ll sleep with a man only for money’ to woman in love is a journey, despite the unlikelihood of shared experiences of the audience, many women (and perhaps men) can understand. There is the allure of utter dedication and single-minded (pig-headed) love and pursuit that Cachorro provides to fill the emptiness of Marina’s life. The single most telling statement from Marina was ‘I never thought a woman like me could be loved.’
Marina’s appeal to Cachorro is more difficult for me to understand. Perhaps it is the challenge of the unobtainable. Or maybe it is just ‘love’.