LATINO VOICES

10 Latin American Soap Operas That Would Make Great Shows In The U.S.

NEW YORK - MARCH 02: America Ferrera is seen on the set of the TV show 'Ugly Betty' on location on the streets of  Manhattan
NEW YORK - MARCH 02: America Ferrera is seen on the set of the TV show 'Ugly Betty' on location on the streets of Manhattan on March 2, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Marcel Thomas/FilmMagic)

If you've ever watched a Latin American telenovela you know just how addictive they can be. From the twisty plots to the dramatic close-ups, there's always some new way to keep you hooked.

That's why they're a good place to look for inspiration for U.S. shows. Salma Hayek and Silvio Horta proved this when they adapted the widely successful Colombian telenovela "Yo Soy Betty, La Fea." In 2006, "Ugly Betty" premiered on ABC starring America Ferrera and ran for four seasons -- becoming a huge mainstream hit.

"Ugly Betty" was groundbreaking in terms of Latino representation in television and it seems the recipe for success might repeat itself this month. On October 13, the CW will premiere "Jane The Virgin," an adaptation of the Venezuelan soap "Juana La Virgen." The series will follow the story of Jane, a young woman who cherishes her chastity but is accidentally inseminated with her boss' only hope for child. The Television Critics Association has called the series one of the most promising of the Fall season.

In the spirit of recreating similar success, we've created a list of 10 famous soap operas in Latin America with great plots that could definitely becomes hits in the U.S.! Let us know which ones you'd add to the list in the comments below.

  • Maria La Del Barrio
    YouTube
    One of Mexico’s most popular telenovelas, Maria La Del Barrio might remind some of My Fair Lady. Maria, who comes from a humble background, suddenly finds herself living in the De La Vega’s house, one of the wealthiest families in Mexico. There she falls in love with Luis Fernando, the eldest son of the De la Vega family, but their love story turns into one tormented relationship because many women fight Maria for Luis Fernando’s heart.

    Possible Casting:
    Maria: Alexa Vega
    Luis Fernando: Diego Boneta
  • Mi Gorda Bella
    YouTube
    This Venezuelan telenovela features Valentina, an overweight girl who after the death of her mother is sent to live with her uncle and cousins. Under the roof of the Villanueva household she finds many enemies but also her cousin Orestes, who she has loved since she was a little girl. Despite the obstacles and prejudices, the two fall in love but Valentina is deceived to believe Orestes has been unfaithful. Valentina immediately goes to Spain where she will uncover the truth about her mother’s death and a plot that she will only unravel if she returns unrecognizable to face her enemies.

    Possible Casting:
    Valentina Villanueva: Melissa Fumero
    Orestes Villanueva: William Levy
  • El Cartel De Los Sapos
    YouTube
    This Colombian telenovela is based on the book of the same name written by former drug dealer Andrés López López. López López wrote the book while in prison. The telenovela follows the story of Martín, alias Fresita, who gets involved in the drug trade in Colombia. This decision will forever change his life, especially after he decides to snitch on his cartel and collaborate with the police. With his life in danger, Martín desperately looks for a way out of the war he’s sparked.

    Possible Casting:
    Martín “Fresita”: Moises Arias
  • La Usurpadora
    YouTube
    This hugely popular Mexican version is based on the Venezuelan telenovela of the same name. In it, twins Paulina and Paola are separated at birth. Paulina grows up in humble surroundings while Paola turns evil and marries a rich man. During a chance encounter Paola forces Paulina to trade places with her so she can travel the world with her lover. Her plot is soon discovered and Paulina, who has fallen in love with Paola’s husband, faces the consequences.

    Possible Casting:
    Paulina Martínez / Paola Bracho: Lana Parrilla
    Carlos Daniel Bracho: Christian de la Fuentes
  • Las Juanas
    <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVX59MOIN2w" target="_blank">This Colombian telenovela </a>was a huge success all ov
    YouTube
    This Colombian telenovela was a huge success all over Latin America when it premiered in 1997. The show mixes magic realism with life in the Caribbean. It follows the lives of five women who discover they are all daughters of a man named Calixto, a wealthy man who lives in Corozal and has a family of his own. The search for the five sisters and each one’s distinct personality and upbringing makes this original show a great option for U.S. TV.

    Possible Casting:
    Juana Valentina: Judy Reyes
    Juana Caridad: Dascha Polanco
    Juana Manny: Aubrey Plaza
    Juana Bautista: Selena Gomez
    Juana Matilde: Victoria Justice
  • O Clone
    YouTube
    This Brazilian telenovela was one of the biggest hits of all time. It features Lucas, a young man in Brazil who takes a trip to Morocco and falls in love with Jade, a Muslim woman who grew up in Rio de Janeiro and can’t find her place in her family’s religious traditions. Jade and Lucas fall in love at first sight but fate tears them apart, the two end up moving on with their lives. Twenty years later they unexpectedly reunite, but each with a family of their own. While the two struggle with their feelings they also discover that Lucas was cloned and Leo, the carefree 20-year-old clone, also falls in love with Jade. Now, Jade must decide between the two versions of the man she loves.

    Possible Casting:
    Lucas Ferraz/Leo Moura Da Silva: Cauã Reymond
    Jade Rachid: Camilla Belle
  • ¿Dónde Está Elisa?
    YouTube
    The Chilean telenovela revolves around the disappearance of Elisa, the teenage daughter of the wealthy Dominguez family. After her disappearance and suspected kidnapping, family secrets start to be revealed. Tensions grow around family and friends as everyone becomes suspect and the mystery of Elisa’s disappearance becomes more and more complicated.

    Possible Casting:
    Elisa Dominguez: Alexis Bledel
  • En Los Tacones De Eva
    YouTube
    The Colombian telenovela features Juan, a playboy who doesn’t respect women. When Isabella, a small-business owner, stands in the way of his professional success he decides to seduce her and make her fall in love with him so she’ll reveal her company’s secrets. His plan backfires when he falls in love with her. That's when Isabella discovers his initial intentions and never wants to see him again. Desperate to win her back he becomes Eva and starts working as Isabella’s assistant, trying to get close to her again.

    Possible Casting:
    Isabella Nieto: Dania Ramirez
    Juan Camilo Caballero / Eva María León Jaramillo viuda de Zuloaga: Rodrigo Santoro
  • Rubí
    YouTube
    The Mexican telenovela tells the story of a young and beautiful social climber, Rubí, who will stop at nothing to gain wealth and status even if it means giving up the man she truly loves. Using her charm and beauty, Rubí plays with the hearts and lives of everyone around her to achieve her goals -- but will she go too far?

    Possible Casting:
    Rubí Pérez Ochoa de Ferrer: Naya Rivera
    Alejandro Cárdenas Ruíz: Laz Alonso
    Héctor Ferrer Garza: Eduardo Verasategui
  • Nuevo Rico, Nuevo Pobre
    YouTube
    In this Colombian production, Andrés and Brayan are two grown men leading very different lives until they discover they were switched at birth. The two are then forced to switch places and Andrés must go from being a wealthy businessman to a humble pharmacist while Brayan now has more money than he ever dreamed of. Can these two strangers learn to fit into their new lives?

    Possible Casting:
    Andrés Ferreira: Jon Huertas
    Brayan Galindo: Wilmer Valderrama
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