Cómo Orientalista: Telemundo’s El Clon, Part I

Spanish soap operas (telenovelas) are just like any other serial dramas, with all the conventional characteristics: star -crossed lovers, dramatic music, a flair for the outrageous and a seemingly never-ending plot.

This is exactly what can be expected from Telemundo’s telenovela, El Clon (The Clone). A remake of a Brazilian soap opera that aired in 2001 and 2002 titled O Clone, this Spanish-language telenovela is targeted at the U.S.’s Spanish speaking market. However, what is unexpected is the drama’s lengthy commentary on Islam (although, this seems to be a common theme in soap operas these days).

Not withholding any stereotypes, El Clon lays it on thick with the usual suspects: the controlling, abusive Muslim man (albeit without the turban and dark, hairy features); the helpless Muslim girl longing to escape oppression; the love interest, who is—gasp—not Muslim; men smoking shisha in tents while being entertained by belly dancers; and, of course, the hyper-sexualization of the Muslim woman.

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