Stream or skip? A Wildly Fun Fantasy About A Telenovela Writer Trapped In Her Own TV Show, ‘Novela’ on Prime Video

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Novela is a Brazilian telenovela with eight episodes that just came out on Prime Video. It’s about a woman who writes a telenovela and then gets sucked into it and lives with the characters she made. It’s a crazy magical-realist fantasy that leads to a lot of confusion (no one who works on the show can figure out what happened, but viewers and critics think it’s a clever subversion of the telenovela genre), and it’s a great show to watch all at once.

In the first shot, a woman gets out of a car and walks on a pink carpet at a fancy party. When she walks in, a man asks her, “Why did you come?” “What are you going to do?”

Isabel (Monica Iozzi), a new telenovela writer, has started working with Lauro Valenta (Miguel Falabella), a famous writer and producer. Lauro is in charge of a production company where he started out as a successful writer. Now, he’s the boss. Isabel wows Lauro on her first day with big ideas and encyclopedic knowledge of Lauro’s past work. They form a dynamic mentor-mentee relationship that helps Isabel make a new telenovela she calls Destiny’s Rebound. Lauro knows a lot of people in the business, so he takes Isabel under his wing and introduces her to them. He also throws a party with famous people at which they hope to cast the actors who will be in Isabel’s show. Isabel has already given Lauro 30 scripts, but while she is at a party, she hears him tell people that he is the writer. He then steals the show by putting his own name on all of Isabel’s scripts, leaving her in the dust.

In the first scene of the episode, Isabel goes to the premiere of the show she wrote, even though Lauro has been using her ideas for months. There, she runs into an actor she met at Lauro’s party named Denis (Marcello Antony). He is one of the few people who knows that Isabel is the real writer of the show. When he asks her what she plans to do while she’s there, he knows she’s angry and ready to expose Lauro as the fraud that he is. She tells him she wants to steal her show back. How then?

Lauro introduces the show just as the show’s stars, who are in the audience, are about to see it for the first time. Isabel grabs an appetizer from a caterer’s tray and throws it at Lauro. The shocked crowd isn’t sure what just happened for a moment, and Lauro leaves the stage while brushing off the canapé crumbs. I should also say that the party is being held in the studio where the show was shot, so after Isabel loses her temper, she runs away and hides on the set of the show. Back in the screening room, people are getting ready to watch the first episode. Isabel is drawn to the glow of a monitor, and just as the episode starts playing in the screening room, she is literally sucked into the monitor. She is now the star of the show, and everyone in the room who is waiting to watch the show sees her face first.

As Isabel walks around dressed as the main character of the show she wrote, she runs into Denis, who plays a character named Inácio. Isabel is just as shocked by the situation as Denis. “What the fuck did we do, Denis?” she asks, wondering if this is all a drug-induced dream. But Denis insists on being called Inácio. Isabel might still be Isabel, but Denis is not Denis. He’s really living as his TV character, and so is everyone else Isabel meets.

Isabel can’t figure out how she ended up in a real TV show, and Lauro can’t figure out how this woman managed to mess up his new show. How did Isabel get in, and will she be stuck there for good?

What TV shows will you remember? On the surface, Novela is an exaggerated look at the entertainment industry. It’s also a meta-telenovela about a telenovela, like Jane the Virgin. But Isabel becoming a real part of the TV universe and living inside it is unlike anything else I’ve seen. It’s more like a funny Twilight Zone than the Truman Show.

Our Take: Novela is a revenge fantasy where the fantasy part is really important. In the same way that Josh Baskin wished he was big in Big and magically became big (while the rest of the world, including his parents, thought he was missing and stayed in their reality), Isabel wished she could ruin Lauro’s show and magically made it happen, leaving everyone in the real world dumbfounded.

As the show goes on, Isabel keeps looking for a way out of the TV show, and Lauro keeps trying to figure out how Isabel got there. (At one point in episode two, he blames the Russians and Julian Assange.) But soon, the show Isabel is watching becomes a huge hit. She doesn’t belong here, and even though she didn’t write the original show, her version is a hit. They love it. They care for her. They love how this new take on the genre is so fresh.

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