Middle class Brazil looks itself in a soap opera and breaks audience records
A soap opera which depicts the recent upsurge of Brazil into a consumer society has trapped the country breaking audience records and even forcing President Dilma Rousseff to modify her agenda.
“Brazil Avenue” is a portrait of the suburbs of the noisy ill-mannered Rio do Janeiro suburbs but also a hardworking community with a strong solidarity spirit, a mirror for millions of Brazilians that in the last decade have left poverty to become lower middle class and join the consumer society.
Normally the “9 o’clock soap opera” captures an audience of 38 million, glued to their television sets, and don’t tolerate any comments but those related to that evening’s events of “Brazil Avenue” transmitted by the very successful O’Globo network.
President Rousseff campaigning in support for her party’s candidate for mayor of the City of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s industrial and financial hub, had to change the date of the rally and in the northern city of Salvador, her aides neatly planned for all the political celebrations to be over well on time before 9 o’clock. Just in case there was some delay two huge screens were ready to air the big audience hit.
“Brazil Avenue” has also become a success of the social networks where millions exchange comments in real time of the latest chapter. The soap opera is also among the leading headlines in evening news and the gossip press, and the locals have incorporated some of the words and expressions to their daily vocabulary.
The author of the success Joao Emanuel Carneiro admits to have been inspired in the so called ‘C category’ (low middle class) which now represents almost 55% of Brazil’s 195 million population and sixty economy of the world.
The ranks of ‘C category’ bloated with the social inclusive policies of the last fifteen years under presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Lula da Silva and continued by Dilma Rousseff helped over 40 million Brazilians climb out of poverty.
“It was a great idea to target the novel in the emerging middle class which is the mirror of the new Brazil, of the families that have climbed in the social ladder, have more money but not necessarily better manners”, said sociologist Geraldo Tadeu, from the Rio Social Research Institute.
The stereotype of the novel is the suburban ‘caricoa’ or Rio do Janeiro resident who feeds on rice and beans, only reads gossip and soft porn magazines, expert in drinking beer and the ladies in attending beauty parlours and experts in sensual tropical dancing.
“It’s the first time a soap opera targets suburban locals; it’s the emerging class, the new consumers and proud of it which is very important”, points out Mauro Alencar an expert in television drama.
The name of the soap opera refers to the great ample avenue in the heart of Rio that links downtown with the suburbs to the north of the city, and the fictitious neighbourhood of Divino where the script takes place.
Success is also measured by the social networks with millions making comments and beating records of trending topics in Twitter, which further help to bolster audience.
“Social networks don’t steal audience on the contrary they reinforce the communion between the people and the novel. It’s wonderful to follow the soap opera and the Facebook and Twitter comments” said Ricardo Waddington, director of “Brazil Avenue”.