When GUIDING LIGHT decided to clone Reva back in 1998, the disasterous tale drew groans from even the long-running soap’s most ardent fans and snickers from the non-soap community. Despite the amazing talents of Reva’s portrayer, Kim Zimmer, the story was a rushed, ridiculous mess that might well have helped put the show on the path to its eventual demise. Flashforward just over a decade, and the folks at Telemundo have shown that sudsy drama and human genetics can, in fact, be an entertaining mix as evidenced by the telenovela EL CLONE, which began its 26-week run earlier this week.
The Spanish-language sudser stars hunky Maurcio Ochrmann as twin brothers Lucas and Diego, and the stunningly gorgeous Sandra Echeverria plays Jade. Fate finds the three Miami residents on a collision course in Morocco, where the serial explores not only the romantic complications encountered by the three but such potentially-touchy subjects as Islamic customs and their impact on a young woman raised in a modern society. Following the death of Jade’s elderly mother, she is shipped off to Morocco to live with her uncle, with whom she immediately clashes thanks to their differing values. Her uncle Ali also has heated debates with his longtime friend Albeiri, who happens to be a scientist interested in the cloning process.
And while so far, the only clones introduced on the program have been of the sheep variety, that won’t be the case much longer…
The show works on every level, thanks in part to the off-the-charts chemistry shared by Ochmann and Echeverria, who first met when he accidentally stumbled upon her belly dancing, setting in motion a chain of events that would make their burgeoning love a forbidden one. Before long, Jade’s uncle has her engaged to a man she does not love, Diego has had sex with a woman who turns out to be his father’s lover, and a seemingly-unconnected couple’s fertility problems lay the groundwork for the major drama yet to come.
But what truly sets this apart from previous telenovelas — and, by extension, their American brethren — is the forthright way in which it illustrates the cultural divide between American-raised Muslims and those raised in the stricter Arabic culture. For example, Jade finds it almost impossible to understand her uncle’s shock and outrage about her having been glimpsed in belly-dancing garb by a man who is not her husband. And when Jade finally manages to find a way to be alone with would-be beau Lucas, he finds it hard to imagine that she has never even held hands with a man. While a quick trip to the internet shows that some Muslim viewers aren’t thrilled with every aspect of the way their religion is being portrayed, almost all agree it is a much more layered and realistic glimpse than is typically put forth by those in the entertainment field.
The show airs five nights a week, and can be viewed with English subtitles. Check local listings for time and channel.