If Latin-flavored Jane the Virgin and Ugly Betty have proven something in American TV, it’s that despite our cultural differences, we all fall in love (and get into trouble!) just the same way. The success stories of these two series have also paved the way for the upcoming USA Network’s Queen of the South, the dramatic tale of a young Mexican woman who becomes a big shot in drug trafficking.
So, this looks like the perfect moment to wonder what other telenovelas or Latino series could make a triumphant crossover to America. Here, we have eight suggestions.
EL CLON (THE CLONE)
This series takes place in Morocco and Miami, and tells the story of Jade, a woman who must choose between Lucas and his much younger clone, Daniel. You can bet this would be a hit in the U.S. With a smart mix of drama and science fiction, Telemundo's El Clon proved to be a big sensation in Brazil before it was remade in Spanish for the rest of Latin America, with identical success. This story has enough twists and turns to keep you glued to your TV, and while you are at it, you could also learn a little bit about the Middle East.
Dream cast? The names Aaron Paul and Lea Michele sound just right.
EL PATRON DEL MAL (THE PATRON OF EVIL)
Before Narcos, there was El Patrón on Telemundo, a telenovela that follows a wickedly compelling Pablo Escobar in the long, intense journey of a poor man who becomes the king of an evil empire. We could use a remake of this series just because there is so much more excitement, terror, and disaster around Escobar, especially in the other cartels this telenovela portraits so accurately.
For some reason, we can see Paul Giamatti as a perfect English-speaking Escobar. Just saying…
LA HIJA DEL MARIACHI (THE MARIACHI'S DAUGHTER)
An undocumented Mexican man, accused of a crime he didn’t commit, escapes to Colombia, where he falls in love with a local mariachi’s daughter while trying to get back to Mexico as an innocent man. America, the heart of immigrant stories, will definitely cherish the tale of someone struggling to adapt to a new environment. Of course, this series has a lot of music! And you know how much a story grows when told with songs.
We need singer-actors for this one, so maybe Diego Bonetta and Victoria Justice would make a perfect leading couple.
HASTA QUE LA PLATA NOS SEPARE (TILL MONEY DO US APART)
So the story goes, she is a wealthy entrepreneur and he’s a nice, poor man who crashes into her car, and sinks into a huge debt for damages. To pay it off, he will work for her in a servant capacity, but they’ll fall in love at the end, naturally. This may sound like a schmaltzy story, but it’s in fact the funny tale of an empowered, subtly feminist character capable of controlling everything, except her feelings. Sounds good, right? Of course it does! It may even work as a sitcom.
We see Lana Parrilla and Tobey Maguire in the leading roles.
SIN SENOS NO HAY PARAISO (NO BOOBS, NO PARADISE)
A girl comes up with the idea of getting breast implants to catch the attention of a rich cocaine smuggler. She does, but she will live the dangerous, dramatic life of a “prepaid girl,” as they call drug-trafficker girlfriends in Latin America. Before this “narco-novela” was a big hit in Mexico, it had an equally successful version in Colombia, that in time was the extended version of a series adapted from a bestseller book. In other words, Sin Tetas has all the credentials required to secure a further hit in English. It also tells the story of drug lords from the captivating point of view of the women who surround them. New episodes start on Telemundo on July 19 at 9/8c.
Come on -- don’t you just see Selena Gomez in this series?
GRAN HOTEL (GRAND HOTEL)
Think of a mysterious Mexican Downtown Abbey: a guy enters a hotel where his sister works, looking for her. But she’s not there -- nor anywhere -- so he gets to work in the hotel to solve the puzzle of her disappearance. American audiences would love a new version of this series that, by the way, could be taken to any scenario in the U.S. Besides; it happens at the turn of the twentieth century so there is also a romantic flair to the story.
We definitely see Nicholas Hoult playing the leading role.
UN SUENO LLAMADO SALSA (A GREAM CALLED SALSA)
Richie is a skilled salsa dancer, while Margarita is a prosperous architect and entrepreneur who wants to create the biggest salsa troupe in Colombia, with Richie as its main attraction. They will have ferocious competitors but they are, luckily, a great team in business… and in love. You could think of this as a Colombian Fame, and you could be right. This series is not only fun, but it also has a lot a dancing, comedy, and dreams -- which come true against all odds.
The dream cast has to include Ricky Martin and Sofia Vergara, don’t you agree?
EL SENOR DE LOS CIELOS (THE LORD OF THE SKIES)
This series is inspired by the life of late drug lord Amado Carrillo, one of the most powerful criminals Mexico has ever seen. The show, currently airing weeknights on Telemundo at 10/9c, tells his rags-to-riches story, although it takes enough dramatic licenses to extend the tale to four seasons, and counting. There is something about narco-stories that has captivated audiences everywhere south of the border. We guess that after Queen of the South, the U.S. will catch exactly the same fever.
Benjamin Bratt would perfectly fit the role of lord of the skies.