Telenovela Review: Eva Longoria's Soap Spoof Is Dumb-Dumb-Dunnnn

grade_C-In the opening scene of her new sitcom Telenovela (previewing Monday, 10/9c on NBC), Eva Longoria’s Ana Sofia Calderon face-plants not once, but twice, as she rushes to set — late as usual. She might’ve been better off staying flat on the floor — concealing her participation in a series whose nifty premise collapses under the weight of its leaden jokes and dead-horse storylines.

Don’t get me wrong: The Desperate Housewives vet (who also executive-produces her new series) still possesses the ability to score huge laughs. Unfortunately, those rare moments in Telenovela mostly happen when Longoria has no dialogue, and is instead silently staring down her ex-fiancé or hilariously suppressing her gag reflex as a couple of old-friends-turned-sex-partners share the details of their recent tryst. (The latter, a running gag in Episode 2, serves as a cruel reminder of Longoria’s strength at broad comedy — especially since those muscles rarely get a workout from Telenovela‘s achingly banal scripts.)

The setup is a familiar, albeit not unappealing one: Longoria’s Ana Sofia, the titular star of the long-running Las Leyes de Pasion, is thrown a curveball when the network’s new boss (Chuck‘s Zachary Levi, utilized about as well as a filet mignon at a convention of vegans) casts her ex-husband as her male lead — without so much as a word of warning. Despite support from her costume-designer BFF Mimi (Diana Maria Riva) and insecure gay castmate Gael (Jose Moreno Brooks), Ana Sofia starts spiraling, flashing back to a breakup that left her in a bathtub filled with tissues, listening to “All By Myself,” then eventually throwing a trashcan-overturning tantrum in front of a wall of autograph-seeking fans.

Trouble is, there’s not a single surprising twist on any of the threadbare inside-showbiz tropes, and even worse, every single zinger feels like it’s from a hastily assembled first draft. “I thought marriage was between a man and a woman,” Ana Sophia says of her failed union, “not between a man, a woman and Shakira.” Longoria and her castmates gamely try to breathe some life into the material, but you can’t inflate a balloon that’s peppered with holes.

Episode 2 of Telenovela introduces the evil twin of Ana Sophia’s co-star Isabella — a woman who returns after years of self-imposed exile with revenge fantasies on the brain. In my mind, I’m hoping that somewhere out in the world, Telenovela has a heretofore unseen twin, too, and that perhaps it’ll emerge from the shadows this time next year, giving Longoria a showcase worthy of her talents.

The TVLine Bottom Line: Telenovela is a holiday-season preview that’s better left unwrapped.

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38 Comments
  1. Ian says:

    Aww, thats unfortunate. I love Eva and was hoping she had a winner. She’s a star.

  2. zac says:

    Cool we have graded reviews now.

  3. David4 says:

    Wait… a negative review here?!?!

    • Phlarg says:

      Yeah, I’m shocked too! They never do negative reviews, they are almost exclusively focused on the shows they love. Strange. This is the second time I’ve seen something like this here.

  4. Mak says:

    I often enjoy shows that have bad reviews so will check it out and decide for myself. Life in Pieces had a bad review on this site but it turns out to be one of my fav comedies for the year.

    • Timmah says:

      I’ll give it a chance too. Comedies in particular often take time to grow on you.

    • Weezy says:

      Yeah I didn’t even try to watch Life in Pieces because of the horrible review on here. Over Thanksgiving I was bored and decided to watch one. Thank goodness it was the Ponzi episode. I think it was the first time a brand new show had me on the floor laughing within 2 minutes. I think the writing is excellent and CANNOT BELIEVE the show is on CBS as most CBS comedies are garbage (I’m looking at you Chuck Lorre…).

  5. Sammy says:

    This is weird but Entertainment and E online gavd surprisingly good reviews… oh well. Its eva longoria. Will watch…

    • zac says:

      Deadline too gave it a good review

      • Weezy says:

        So I’ve seen a screener of the first episode and this has to be one of the worst pieces of garbage I’ve seen on TV in recent memory…and that’s really saying something. I’m glad to see the writer take a bold stance and tell the truth as just about every second of the episode I saw was just plain awful. I think the guy who let this and the Zach Morris show on the air over at NBC should be fired and dismissed from the entertainment industry as a whole. NBC used to have great comedies and now they would be better off taking scraps from rejected shows from other networks…

        And for all the people confused about the negative review on this site vs all the kneepadding I’m seeing elsewhere, take a look at the reviews of multiple new shows on those sites. And there is definitely a trend and it annoys me. I wish people would just tell the truth or how they really feel about something instead of worrying about reactions or relationships with companies, etc.

  6. Josh says:

    I’ll keep my play on/homage to telenovella’s to Jane the Virgin. thanks!

  7. The plot they have here is stolen straight from SoapDish. I guess when they get lazy and do stuff like this they think the viewers are going to be too young to remember this. You would think with all the money Eva has and access to talent that they would hire better writers. I agree Slezak. You are on point about 80 percent of the time :)

  8. tahina says:

    I thought it was going to be a bad one for a tv network after I saw a sneak peek. Best bet stick with cw or Life. Good luck!

  9. Vivian Tse says:

    They got a 9.7/10 from IMdB. Don’t know how, with that rating, it earned them a C- from here….but I’m going to give it a try anyways because I want to see the passion, drama, and puppies they were talking about:3 #goTelenovela

  10. Salem Saberhagen says:

    For some reason, I still remember Diana Maria Riva as the mean boss of the “hip” magazine “Scorch” where Sabrina worked for 10 episodes during the 2002-03 season of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” Fortunately, this storyline and all the associated characters were dropped midway through the season.

  11. Mike M says:

    “Chuck‘s Zachary Levi, utilized about as well as a filet mignon at a convention of vegans” Another “meaty” role for poor Zach then huh. Geez I hope he gets a break soon, did no casting agents ever see how well he can act from the FIVE seasons of Chuck? So confused… need a foot-long…

  12. dj says:

    Wow, Entertainment magazine gave it a “B+” review. Guess people should watch it and make up their own minds.

  13. Tom sweeney says:

    THANK YOU, with the heaviness of the negative energy swirling arounnd the country, your show made me laugh and forget about the darknes and sadness that the TV has been producing.
    I laughed and laughed, as a teacher who taught a bilingual class and I only speak english, it was refreshing and very enjoyable. So Thanks….

  14. Vanessa says:

    I saw the 2 episodes tonight and liked it enough to watch the 3rd episode available online. My sister and I both laughed out loud several times. The pace picks up in the 3rd episode. Highly recommend!!!

  15. jj says:

    watched the first episode and the show seems all over the place. I like Eva and thought she was great in desperate housewives and brooklyn nine nine but to me she just feels flat, she doesn’t seem to have the high energy to fill the role of Ana.

  16. Jill says:

    I actually enjoyed this show much more than I thought I would. Sure it’s over the top, and not really going for the smart laugh, but laugh I did. I also thought it was better than last week’s Superstore which I thought was terrible.

    • Better than Superstore for sure. I was looking forward to that one but liked Telenovela better. I cracked up at the blonde that also wore the tight clothes. That was me in the 70’s and my kids say now too.

    • Marie says:

      Agree, better than ‘Superstore.’ I’ll give it another chance on January 4th. I enjoyed most of the co-stars.

  17. You are the reason we all have to arch dumb dumb dumb reality tv. Someone should break your laptop so we never have to listen listen listen to your dumb done career.

  18. mrtvexpert says:

    The second episode was hard to pay attention to. I kind of liked the pilot, but the second episode lost me from the start. I won’t be watching in January, it’s just not for me.

  19. Heather says:

    I normally don’t like sitcoms but this one I have to say I love. I thought it was funny and Eva is great. It’s a parody….lighten up

  20. ALFONSO says:

    IT WAS FANTASTIC. MY WIFE AND I GOT A REAL KICK OUT OF IT. I DON’T KNOW HOW IT GOT A BAD REVIEW!!!

  21. Eve says:

    Loved Telenovela something different and refreshing. I rate it a 7 plus. It deserve a chance.

  22. Gus says:

    I totally agree. The show is awful, denigrating and very poorly thought out–a complete shame…

  23. Linda says:

    Horrible, I tried to watch it, I love comedies! Horrible! 😖

  24. Art says:

    I’m sorry, this was so boring I fell asleep. Tried again and only lasted 10 minutes. CANCEL

  25. Lila says:

    The show is great fun. I m very confused about this sites review.

  26. irwne says:

    I hate that anything good you people take off the air is it because she’s brown