The Latinx community is known for its love of soap operas. It has produced tons of content in this genre that appeal to selective audiences spread across the world, whether in the original Spanish language and its variations, dubbed in English or accompanied by subtitles. ‘The Five Juanas’ is one of those soaps that are a bit silly and wacky but interesting, nevertheless.
The 18 episode series whose Spanish title ‘La Venganza de las Juanas’ translates to the far more titillating ‘Revenge of the Juanas’ is basically a remake of a 1997 Colombian telenovela titled ‘La Juanas,’ which was initially written by Bernado Romero Pereira. This original version was also remade into a Mexican telenovela of the same name that ran between 2004 and 2005. The series premiered on Netflix on October 6th, and interestingly, the screenplay for the show was penned by the daughter of the original writer Jimena Romero. Another interesting fact is that despite being inspired by the previous two, this series has a new twist to it. The birthmark aspect is exclusive to the show as it was absent in its predecessors.
The narrative follows five different women who are total strangers to each other, or so they think. But they are brought together in Cancun by interesting circumstances that happen to them and soon they realize that they are not only related but are indeed sisters. What draws this conclusion is the fact that they are all named Juana though with different surnames and bear the same fish birthmark on their behind in the same place.
Despite sharing these two crucial aspects, these five ladies are as diverse as they come in terms of temperaments and behavior. There is Manuela, played by Zuria Vega, who is a high-end stripper who doesn’t take jobs that go below a stack of C-notes. Matilde, a role by Juanita Arias who appears to have brushed shoulders with the law as she has been prevented from returning to Colombia by the authorities, Bautista embodied by Sophia Engberg, who does card reading as a hustle.
When we first meet her, she doesn’t seem happy about her job as she’s stuck reading tarot cards at a bachelor party, Caridad played by Oka Giner, is a nun stuck in a dull apartment as police officers raid a neighboring drug den and then finally, there is Valentina, who is a journalist. When the audience is first introduced to her, she is by the ocean spreading her late mother’s ashes. Other stars in the series include Carlos Ponce, Antonio Denetro, Pablo Bracho, and Mauricio Isaac, among many others.
The writer sets the narrative up in such a way that fate has a role to play in the reunion of the five women. Every scene introducing the different women has a shot of their derriere, fully displaying the distinct birthmark. In one way or the other, all the Juanas find themselves bundled up in the same hotel. Then an earthquake, a natural disaster forces an evacuation that brings the quintet together on the patio.
There are also plenty of instances meant for the five women to notice their peculiar connection and cultivate the curiosity to want to know each other more and find out what puts them in the same pod. All these sound clichés, but they are nicely put together, and the audience finds themselves learning about the new development together with the characters. The show is highly predictable, though.
Then next, there are scenes that introduce Simon Marroguin, played by Ponce, who appears to be some sort of an important dignitary who turns out to be a highly corrupt douchebag with plenty of shady dealings lurking in his shadows stalking him like prey. It doesn’t take long before audiences put two and two together.
As mentioned, the plot is quite straightforward. The various personalities clash with each other as they all strive for a common goal, that of finding their birth father and what happened to their mother, and how they all got separated. Each wants to learn their story and probably get closure in order to forge forward.
‘The Five Juanas’ employs all the corny soap opera storytelling techniques, including vague flashbacks of the characters pouring out their innermost feelings and thoughts via voice-over, which is pretty standard in this genre. The general outlook of the production in terms of quality is quite decent.
The whole series is literally populated by nude and sex scenes that can make it indecent if watching with children or people who are uncomfortable with such content. There are way too many gorgeous cheesecakes all over, which is a delight to viewers who appreciate such sights. The series cannot be described as funny though one will probably get a chuckle or two throughout the show.
Despite being appealing to some audiences who love sexy scenes, some scenes portray a bit odd rape-like instances that seem to glorify this act. While all are meant for entertainment, it is important to remember that young boys love to watch these kinds of shows, and that’s obviously not the message adults want to pass to the future. If these scenes had been toned down, then this series would have been more appealing and comfortable to a broader audience.
There is one fascinating aspect when one starts watching this series. Even though it premiered as season one with 18 episodes, it seems to be like two seasons in one. Audiences will notice this once they get to episode 9.
Overall, ‘The Five Juanas’ is highly predictable, has a unique storyline that cultivates the interest of those audiences who’ve already watched the original and the Mexican remake. Its quality is ok the performances from all the cast are superb, and there are many sexy scenes spread across. If this sounds like your cup of tea, then this series is definitely a must-watch. Good thing there are 18 episodes that, despite the corniness and silliness of the plot, once one starts watching, they just keep clicking next.