Over the holiday break, while looking for my daily fix of La Rosa de Guadalupe but also trying to find something suitable to watch with my madre, I came across a little gem in Univision’s line up: El Hotel de los Secretos. Turns out Televisa remade Grand Hotel, the Spanish murder mystery series, and If you already watched Antena 3’s original version of the show, then ready yourself because you’re about to see how Televisa takes foreign ideas and regurgitates them with underwhelming results (see their remake of Betty la Fea or Big Brother).
I want to applaud Televisa’s efforts for attempting to recreate the original Spanish novela — at least it’s not another Rosa Salvaje remake, right? — but the problem with El Hotel de los Secretos is that the narrative isn’t there. The original Grand Hotel is a murder mystery filmed in the historical Spanish castle Real Palacio de la Magdalena. Since the Royal family actually lived in the castle, it gives the original show an authentic feel that fits perfectly with the vibe of the storyline, which revolves around Spanish nobility. In contrast, #HotelDLS’s effort to faithfully recreate the directing, acting, and convincing setting of Grand Hotel is a big fail. (I’ll give Televisa an A for effort but a C for execution.)
Both shows saw the return of famous television stars; Grand Hotel had Adriana Ozores, an actress belonging to a dynasty of well-respected directors and filmmakers, while El Hotel de los Secretos is lead by Diana Bracho, a well-known telenovela actress and movie star. Diana Bracho actually delivers a decent performance as Adriana Ozore’s counterpart, and both play the role of the Alarcon family mother, and soul of the hotel.
However, the real hero of #HotelDLS is none other than Daniela Romo, the popular singer from the ‘80s, and that’s because she plays the role of Angela, a mean-spirited governess who will stop at nothing to save the hotel’s reputation.
Unfortunately, while the original Spanish cast is full of talented actors who interact perfectly with each other — Grand Hotel is simply a great example of effortless storytelling — #HotelDLS did cast good-looking actors, but, as with most Televisa-produced novelas, their thespians are not wholly talented. For example, the original Javier Alarcón Aldecoa, played by Eloy Azorin, is a serious hot mess, but he’s also impossible to hate. The same character in the remake comes off as a condescending, spoiled brat.
Interested parties should check out Grand Hotel’s 39 episodes on Netflix because they’re nicely broken down into three seasons. In contrast, Televisa is probably going to drag out the story by pushing out hundreds of episodes because #ratings.
Here’s the official trailer for El Hotel de los Secretos:
María Rubio was so good as Catalina Creel, an iconic telenovela villain, the role ruined her career
According to sources on Twitter, and also TvNotas, the holy bible of Mexican gossip, María Rubio, the legendary actress best known for her role as Catalina Creel de Larios in Cuna de lobos, has passed away. She was 83 years old.
Thanks to her role as Soraya Montenegro in María la del Barrio, Itati Cantoral has been dominating the internet with an insane amount of memes, gifs, and even a House of Cards promo special. Itati blew up in the mid ’90s, when older millennials were still teens, and she’s that generation’s go-to character when it comes to Mexican telenovela villains.
Yes, Cantoral was great as Soraya, but the top dog in the telenovela villain game was — and has always been — María Rubio. The Tijuana-born actress was so good in Cuna de lobos that, according to an interview she did with Cristina Saralegui, the role ruined her career:
“[Catalina Creel] was a difficult, beloved character. I enjoyed playing her, but she also hurt me a lot. People completely forgot about María Rubio and now it seems that, after 40 years of being an actress, I’ve only done Catalina Creel.”
Catalina, a murderous matriarch, was known for having some of the best one-liners in telenovela history. But in the same interview with Saralegui, which was filmed over 20 years ago, María proved to be just as cunning and smart as her infamous character, but also incredibly funny:
“[Although I played a villain], I’ve received nothing but compliments, love, and admiration. Never aggression. I think viewers do attack the bad ones — bad actresses, that is.”
If you understand Spanish, check out the hilarious interview below. Watch María viciously own everyone in a panel of full of young telenovela villains:
Traumatic advice from aunt Rosa: “Don’t torture your Care Bear, Mijo. Or else.”
I was 6 years old when I yelled at Tugs, my Care Bear. I put him in time-out for not agreeing to the rules of an imaginary game I had just created.
I built a little time-out fortress for him to stay in while I played with my other toys. Coincidentally my tía Rosa was visiting that day. I urged her to see all my toys when she came into the house. I also explained to her that Tugs was in time-out, to which she replied in shock, “Mijo, mira, You have to be nice to your toys.”
I replied, “Tía, I am nice to my toys, but I’m teaching him a lesson.”
She contested nervously, “No, Mijo, you have to be nice to your toys or they might not be nice to you.”
I wasn’t following her logic.
“Mijo, if you’re not nice to your toys, then at night time they might wake up and crawl into your bed to cut your toes with tiny razors,” she said slowly while staring at my imprisoned Care Bear.
“What?!” I whispered to her while looking at Tugs from the corner of my eye.
“Yes, your toys might do very bad things to you if you don’t treat them good.”
I stared at her in disbelief.
She stood up and walked towards the doorway.
“Mijo, I brought you some tortillas. Come in the kitchen and let’s warm them up,” Rosa said casually.
From then on, Tugs sat on a tufted pillow on my dresser while I slept in velcro shoes for the next year. Growing up in my Mexican-American family meant that everything was possibly alive and watching you.