"Y aquí me tienes... en esta celda donde pasaron los últimos años de mi vida, lejos de mis dos hijos, lejos de mi tierra, de mi casa, pagando por un crimen que yo no cometí mientras que el verdadero asesino debe estar entre ellos. (And here, you have me... in this cellar where I've spent the last years of my life, away from my two children, away from my land, of my home, paying for a crime that I never committed, whereas the true murderer... must be among them.)"
— María Fernández Acuña, Episode 2
"I can think of fifteen network shows that I understand that aren't this good!"La madrastra (The Step-Mother) is a 2005 Mexican telenovela, based actually on a Chilean one from The '80s. It stars Victoria Ruffo as María Fernández Acuña, an ingenue young woman who, due to a gross Miscarriage of Justice, is incarcerated for twenty years for the murder of her friend Patricia, which she did not commit.After being released from jail, María returns to Mexico City with three purposes: to exact revenge on her husband and friends who abandoned her to the Aruban justice system, to find Patricia's real murderer, and to be reunited with her children, who believe her to be deceased and, once she marries their father, think she is their stepmother.
— Joel McHale, The Soup
This show provides examples of:
- Alternate Ending: It has one in which it was not Demetrio the murderer, but Fabiola, who had been blackmailed by Patricia, who was about to tell everyone about the existence of Fabiola and Bruno's retarded son. In this ending, Fabiola is sent into a asylum and Demetrio is able to live a happy life reunited with his son.
- Caught on Tape: Patricia's murder is caught on tape by a Magical Security Cam.
- Creepy Crossdresser: Shockingly not Bruno, but Demetrio
- Creepy Child: A television special that narrates the end of the story, Años después, 10 years after the events of the series, with all the young couples now with children. For some reason, Angelito, Angel and Alma's son, turned out to be an evil kid, easily manipulated by Demetrio, his grandfather, into doing evil things to his family, as a personal vengeance against them. And the boy enjoys it. Weirdly enough, the moment he sees Demetrio fighiting against Esteban, he realizes that he's evil, he made him do evil things and has a Heel–Face Turn by the end of the show.
- Deus ex Machina: The convenient video tape of Patricia's murder, which despite ostensibly being home footage and not from a security camera, somehow involves numerous camera angles and cuts between the principal actors. Let's not even start on who is supposed to have recorded the footage...
- Family Relationship Switcheroo: Ángel grows up believing that the entirely fictional "Montserrat" is his mother before learning that his great-aunt Alba is his mother, only to finally discover that his other great-aunt Carmela gave him life.
- Guyliner: Bruno. And how...
- Monochrome Casting: Despite the fact that the vast majority of the Mexican population is of mestizo descent, the entire main cast is noticeably paler than average.
- Miscarriage of Justice
- Parental Abandonment: Bruno and Fabiola abandon their newborn son after he is born with severe physical deformities. Demetrio and Carmela/Alba also abandon their son Ángel and allow Esteban to raise him as his own.
- Redemption Equals Death: Carlos and Ana Rosa.
- Rich Bitch: Especially Fabiola, Patricia, and Alba, but also Daniela and Ana Rosa to a lesser degree.
- Serial Killer: The mysterious culprit.
- The Unfavorite: El Pulpo, whose Wicked Stepmother favored her natural son Servando.
- Took a Level in Dumbass: Almost every character in the whole series, right a month or so before the end, from the main character to the villains. By this time, a new telenovela was already announced, so people were actually already waiting for this story to finally come to an end. The new telenovela finally aired, but La Madrastra didn't end yet, it only took a change of schedule.
- Villainous Incest: Alba's burning love for her nephew, Esteban, whom she raised following the deaths of his parents when he was young, brings this trope disturbingly close to Parental Incest, too.
- Wakeup Makeup: Largely subverted. Fabiola, for example, is featured in a number of episodes sans her normally heavy make-up after emerging from the shower or before going to bed (cf. episodes 41 and 90, especially).