Some weekends, the mood is not so much “travel and learn” but more like “get sucked into other people’s drama”. Maybe the weather is just not helping your moods, or you need to project this week’s mistakes onto other people who are making worse choices than you are.
Either way, when the mood is right for some high drama – why not go for a gritty Colombian option? At Lingopie, one of our hottest new releases for the season is Sin Tetas No Hay Paraíso, or “No Paradise without Tits”. And just like the name indicates, this show is no romantic fairy tale: instead, it is a cheeky but brutally honest story about drugs, easy money, and poverty. So it’s time to crank up some telenovelas to learn Spanish!
So What Are These Paradise Breasts All About?
Sin Tetas no Hay Paraíso is the story of Catalina and her quest to achieve riches, power, and sex appeal. Catalina is a beautiful, doe-eyed high school senior who lives in almost abject poverty. In her town of Pereira, legal jobs are scarce, but the drug economy is clearly booming.
So what’s a beautiful woman to do to get a piece of the cake? The obvious solution for her seems to become a prepago or “prepaid girl” – basically, an escort that caters to the weekend-long parties held in the mansions of local drug lords. There’s only one problem with her plan: although beautiful, Catalina doesn’t completely meet the new money’s standard of beauty because she’s relatively small-breasted.
In her mind, getting breast implants just seems like the logical first step for eternal financial stability. But does she really know what she’s getting into?
Why Should You Watch it?
We could just tell you that Sin Tetas No Hay Paraíso is an engrossing, fun way to practice Spanish. And while it will definitely help you bring your knowledge from “classroom-advanced” into “street fluent”, we’d rather just show you what makes this show great.
1. It was the mega hit of a generation
Sin Tetas No Hay Paraíso topped rating charts in 13 different countries. It also eventually gave birth to a sequel and 5 different adaptations in 3 different languages.
We have brought you the original, unaltered version. This was released in 2006, based on a novel by the same name. The show’s producers took a bold step when they first commissioned the series: back then, local media in Colombia still leaned heavily conservative and they were afraid to anger advertisers with its raunchy, drug-friendly plot and criminal themes. Even the name was controversial at first, as it wasn’t normal to talk about tetas (tits) in prime time television.
It was a different, more innocent time.
It was clear, however, that audiences across Colombia were ready for more. Sin Tetas No Hay Paraíso captured the zeitgeist of an entire generation of young Colombians who had grown up under the shadow of Narco money.
2. It's a "real" soap opera
Soap operas often get a bad rap because of their clichéd story lines, where the beautiful heroine has a heart of gold and is eventually rewarded with a wonderful, wealthy husband.
If only, right?
By contrast, Sin Tetas No Hay Paraíso provided a realistic view at the way Narco money permeated all the people around it.
Part of the genius of the series’ script comes from the fact that Gustavo Bolivar, the writer of the original novel, was a journalist. Many of the side plots that pop throughout the story are based on real cases that he investigated and reported on.
He saw firsthand the way young men were tempted out of school, with promises of an entire month’s wages in exchange for a single murder.
If you’ve seen Narcos already, you have probably wondered what happens to all the people who lived around Escobar and his sicarios. You see them sometimes dodging bullets, but the series doesn’t really delve on what it must have been like for regular people who technically were not on the drug trade – but were selling products and renting houses to them.
What happens to a city when it suddenly gets buckets of blood money?
3. The Extra Early-Millennium Aesthetic
It doesn’t matter if all those Buzzfeed lists try to poke fun at some of the things that were fashionable 15 years ago. Many of us – this author included – still hold a special place in our hearts for crop-tops, low cut jeans, and off-the-shoulder sweaters.
Now, take the glitter and sequin of those years, and just add unlimited resources, a tropical weather, and a penchant for showing off. What do you get?
4. A good mix of adorable, questionable, and despicable characters
At the heart of every enthralling series lies a group of realistic characters. Sin Tetas No Hay Paraíso steers clears from the usual stereotypes, which usually pit a perfect heroine and her all-too-good allies against a recognizable nest of vipers.
The town of Pereira is populated by a bunch of people with gray moral compasses and complicated motivations. The leading girl, Catalina, is mostly good-hearted but very materialistic. The people around her include the calculating but loyal pimp Yessica, her possessive and machista boyfriend Albeira, and the bloodthirsty drug trafficker El Titi.
5. Lots of realistic Colombian slang
After all, you are here to learn Spanish, right?
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the unusual Spanish you can learn by watching Sin Tetas No Hay Paraíso. You won’t find any on a textbook:
- Parcero: mate or dude
- Traquero: drug trafficker. The word comes from truck because that’s how cocaine used to be moved at first.
- Juicioso or juiciosa: Officially, well-discerning or clever. However, in Colombia this word is used as “responsible” or “well-behaved”
- Chimba: Beautiful, luxurious, o well-equipped
Should We Get Started?
While not your typical telenovela, Sin Tetas no Hay Paraíso still embraces all the usual telenovela language that can keep us entertained and uncomfortably glued to our own seats. Expect dramatic close-ups, ominous music, and constant twists in the protagonist’s lives.
So what are you waiting for? There’s a reason why this Colombian show is still one of the most successful ones of the early millennium. Join Lingopie, and use it as an excuse to keep learning Spanish.