Le Reina del Sur
Kate del Castillo speaks on the "La Reina del Sur" panel during the NBCUniversal portion of the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena on January 29, 2019 in Pasadena, California. "La Reina del Sur" is one the most watched telenovelas. Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Watching television after a hard day’s work is one of the simplest and cheapest yet effective ways to destress and relax. Millions of viewers are glued to their seats in front of a television every day and drift to the romantic yet intriguing world of telenovelas.

Telenovelas are soap dramas produced in Latin American countries with stereotypical plot mixed with ridiculous twists. Most stories are predictable, but the over-the-top dramatic lines have the viewers from all over the world wanting for more. Telenovelas are the most successful format of drama on TV and the universal form of entertainment.

But there is more to telenovelas than the cheesy lines, cat fights and the familiar storylines. They are an effective medium for social change. Telenovelas were able to effectively communicate and sometimes mainstream issues on health, immigration, culture and sometimes politics.

So below is list of telenovelas that hit the post as the most watched and popular telenovelas outside Latin America based on ratings, record breaks and online polls. The list is in random order.

1. “Betty La Fea”

The series revolves around an unconventional protagonist, Betty Pinzon, who is an ugly duckling who turns into a beautiful swan and marries her prince charming. Armando Mendoza, newly elected CEO and president of Eco Moda, plays the typical rich but “idiotic” love interest of Betty. After literally eight years of whirls of love on air, the two got married and had a daughter, who looks like Betty before her transformation.

The series’ wide success in Columbia prompted re-runs and even adaptations and versions in dozens of countries, including the United States — “Ugly Betty,” starring America Ferrera. The use of an ugly and poor main character contributed to its title as the most famous Latin telenovela in history.

2. “Marimar”

Forbidden love and revenge are effective formulas for an addictive telenovela, and that is “Marimar.” Many agree that this Mexican series is one of the best telenovelas that hit television. The story of Marimar, an innocent girl who fell in love with a rich man, Sergio, transformed from a young love to a revenge story and tragedy. Thalia, the star of the series, became a household name for telenovelas at that time across the world.

3. “La Reina Del Sur”

The Queen of the South swayed away lightly from the usual helpless woman rising to success and marrying prince charming plot. Instead, “La Reina Del Sur” mixes drama with action as Reina walks her way up to become Spain’s most powerful trafficker. The series has a successful run of two seasons with 2.4 million views on its first episode, which rose to 4.2 million viewers on the final episode. It has won several awards too for Best Telenovela and Best Actress in People in Spanish Awards.

4. “Amor Real”

One of the most successful telenovelas outside Latin America, “Amor Real” is one of the first telenovelas to have released DVDs with English subtitles. It also won different awards for the cast and crew from different award-giving bodies, including Golden Laurel Awards and Gold Khalifa Awards. It is also one of the highest rated telenovelas in Mexico, with a premiere episode rating of 26.5 million viewers and finale episode of 43.1 million viewers. It gained an average viewer rating of 29.4 million. Four months after the finale, “Amor Real” re-ran due to public demand.

5. “Rebelde”

Nominated for Martín Fierro Award for Best Telenovela, “Rebelde Way” is one of those telenovelas with worldwide success. The more known version of the series is from Mexico, titled “Rebelde.” The series was syndicated to more than 50 countries worldwide. The plot centers on a group of teenagers from aristocratic families who formed a band to pursue their dreams as musicians. IMDB’s vote for the series reached 2,550.

6. “Rubi

Another attempt to break from stereotyped telenovela protagonists, Rubi is a villainized main character. Driven by ambition, Rubi is torn between love and wealth. In 2005, the series received awards from the 23rd TVyNovelas Awards for Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Telenovela categories. Univision named Rubi as the top telenovela of all time with 8 million viewers on its finale broadcast.

7. “La Usurpadora”

The classic story of twins separated at birth, “La Usurpadora” brings the story to another level when one of the twins, Paola, asked her twin Paulina to take her place. Paulina agrees to take her sister’s place as a married woman so Paola can splurge on a vacation with a lover. “La Usurpadora” is Televisa’s most exported telenovela with a license in over 100 countries and dubbed in 25 languages. The series earned 38.4 million viewers in Mexico.

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