I know what you're thinking.
Telenovelas, essentially Spanish/Portuguese-language soap operas, are for emotionally unstable women, old ladies and homosexuals (I mean that in the most tasteful way).
But I have a confession: I enjoy the shit out of them.
Not only are they great for learning Spanish, but they can also make for some high quality television.
Unfortunately, as a man, I found many telenovelas to be far too sappy, boring and catering exclusively to women - I had to sift through dozens and dozens before finding ones I was able to tolerate.
Fortunately for you, I've made a list of the best telenovelas I've found so you don't have to suffer through the same turmoil I did. Just remember to clear your Netflix history after watching to avoid getting heavily roasted by friends and family.
The 11 Best Telenovelas from Latin America For Men
1) En La Boca Del Lobo
En La Boca Del Lobo tells the story of the downfall of Colombia's infamous Cali drug cartel. One of the few telenovelas that is largely focused on male characters. Seconds as a history lesson as it is based (loosely) on true events. Probably the most 'masculine' telenovela that I've come across.
2) El Senor de los Cielos
El Senor de los Cielos is one of the most popular telenovelas running. Although I haven't seen all of the episodes, there was enough violence and beautiful women to keep me entertained through the first season. The main character also uses excellent slang from the north of Mexico - drop some of these words in a conversation and Mexican girls will love you for it.
3) Pablo Escobar: El Patron del Mal
A very detailed account of the life of Pablo Escobar. His business, friendships, love affairs etc. If you are interested in the life of this infamous drug lord, this may be an even better option than Narcos.
4) El Cartel de los Sapos
Another telenovela about the downfall of the Cali cartel of Colombia. The trailer above is for the movie, but the series follows the same idea. Good for men because it focuses more on the business and conflict of the trade rather than sentimental relationships with women (although there's a bit of that as well - comes with the territory).
5) Ojo Por Ojo
Ojo Por Ojo is a lesser-known telenovela from Colombia, but definitely one of my favourites. It focuses on two feuding families in Santa Marta who will stop at nothing to destroy each other. The protagonist is hyper-masculine with frequent outrageous (and hilarious) outbursts of rage involving a baseball bat.
6) La Reina del Sur
At this point in the list, we start to get to some more female-oriented, but still highly watchable, telenovelas. La Reina del Sur tells the story of a woman who becomes Spain's top drug kingpin after she flees Mexico following the death of her boyfriend. Tons of action, great acting and an engaging story. Considered one of the best and highest budget telenovelas ever produced.
7) Sin Senos no hay Paraiso
Sin Senos no hay Paraiso was the first telenovela I was ever exposed to. Tells the story of a young girl's quest to get breast implants (yes, seriously) in order to get ahead in life. The sheer amount of sexy women in this telenovela was enough to keep me watching. I couldn't find a trailer, but this clip is pretty well representative of the talent you can expect.
8) Señora Acero
Stars a female protagonist who starts her own drug trafficking business after the death of her police officer husband. Although not my favourite telenovela on the list, the storyline is strong and the woman was badass enough to keep me interested. The fact it can be found on Netflix with Spanish subtitles makes it great for learning the language.
9) La Prepago
La Prepago is the story of an aspiring journalist who moonlights as a prostitute. After the death of a politician, she gets wrapped up in a scandal that risks exposing her double life and puts her in grave danger. I wasn't expecting to enjoy this one, but I was pleasantly surprised by the pace and narrative. The protagonist is also the SPITTING IMAGE of a girl who game me chlamydia a few years back. I kid you not. Can't say I regret it...
10) La Promesa
La Promesa tells the story of a group of girls who fight for their lives to escape the world of sex-trafficking. An interesting and probably somewhat realistic insight into a world that not many know too much about. Shot better than most telenovelas with good production value. Although the telenovelas higher up the list are better choices for men, this one is still worth a shot. Also available on Netflix.
11) La Hija del Mariachi
By leaps and bounds the gayest telenovela I have on the list. Most men will not like this telenovela. I, however, happen to love mariachi music, which this has in spades. Although it's highly-rated, unless you really like Mexican music and pussified love stories you should probably ignore number 11.
And there you have it!
My 11 recommendations of the best telenovelas for men. The good news is that most of these can be found on Netflix USA, and a few of them even have English and/or Spanish subtitles available.
I know it might be a tall order for some men to sit through any of these, but I can assure you that telenovelas are one of the quickest and most effective ways of learning Spanish. This is based on my own experience, as well as the experience of others (not an affiliate link).
I hope you enjoy (or at least are able to tolerate...) a few of these titles.
Until next time,