For this community, the two most popular Spanish language networks are Telemundo and Univisión. These carry a wide variety of programming, offering viewers their favorite telenovelas, or soap operas, along with sitcoms and reality programs.
On other channels, viewers can watch the latest video from their favorite music performer or the latest match between their favorite sports teams.
In a small round-table discussion group, six Unicoi County High School students were asked what programs they enjoy. The answers ranged from cartoons to sports, typical of students their age.
Sophomore Ana Cordero, 16, said she enjoys programs like Cartoon Network’s “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.”
“It’s hilarious,” she said, “and I can watch it every time and not get bored.”
Ana, who moved to the United States when she was 2, speaks predominantly English but still converses with her parents and relatives in Spanish. Her taste in programming differs from that of her relatives in that she prefers the English language programs over those on Univisión.
This was not the trend among other teens in the group.
Irene Castellón, 17, finds more enjoyment in shows found on Telemundo, or “Mundo” as she calls it.
“My favorite is ‘The Chicas Project,’” she said. This reality-based show stars Melissa Barrera and Yasmin Deliz and is about the around-the-world adventures of two women.
Fellow students Roberto Martinez, 13, and Zully Manzanares, 14, also prefer the programming on Spanish-language television.
“I like the music stations,” Roberto said. His tastes lean more towards reggetón, Hispanic rap, and he loves to watch music videos from artist Daddy Yankee.
“I like the novelas but my favorite show to watch is ‘George Lopez,’” Zully said. She lists her favorite telenovela as “Codigo Postal.”
Although her tastes are a mix of both cultures, Zully prefers her sports to be in Spanish. She is not the only one.
Freshman Eddy Díaz, 14, prefers the Spanish version of ESPN.
A football player at the school, Eddy said he favors the Hispanic soccer leagues but also finds time to watch American football. Among the other students, sports seemed to be a popular source of entertainment.
As for television shows that cross over to the American mainstream, students say they like the Spanish version over its American counterpart. An example is ABC’s “Ugly Betty,” which originated from Columbian telenovela “Yo Soy Betty la Fea.”
“It’s different,” said Irene. “It was like a novela but the only things that were the same were that the main characters were both ugly and named Betty.”
“And the Spanish version was funnier,” said 13-year-old Teresa Rayas.
The students also like to watch their favorite sports in Spanish, especially soccer. To these children and nearly all Hispanics, soccer – as it is known in the United States – is called fútbol and is just as popular as football.
They crowd around televisions to watch the World Cup like football fans watching the Super Bowl. And their reason for enjoying fútbol over its Americanized version is a simple one: enthusiasm.
“In Mexico, the announcers get as excited as the fans when talking about the game,” said Teresa. “In American sports, they seem to talk more about who’s sponsoring them and not about what’s going on in the game. When they do talk they aren’t excited, which makes it less exciting to watch.”
Music seems to cross cultures. With the introduction of Spanish-language music stations on American television, like MTV Trés, similarities in programming begin to arise. MTV Trés, not unlike its American counterpart, has programs such as “Total Request Live” and “Quinceañera,” which is the Spanish version of the popular “My Super Sweet 16” on MTV.
Besides watching their own programs, these teens also find themselves viewing other American shows, which they translate for their Spanish-speaking parents.
“We’ll be watching a movie, and my dad will constantly be like, ‘What did he say?’ and I’ll have to tell him,” Irene said.
Teens find their choices in entertainment differ from those of their predominantly Spanish-speaking parents.
“When I watch TV with my parents, I’m usually bored,” said Teresa. Even though they may not be entertained by their parents’ choices, the teens said, one type of show seems to be the connecting link: the Spanish telenovelas.
“Everyone watches “Destilando Amor,” said Irene. “Even the guys at work are like, ‘Did you watch it last night?’ So it’s popular with everyone.”
First published in El Nuevo Erwin Record