Series: Maria La Del Barrio

Literally: "María from the Ghetto/Neighborhood" (1995-1996). A popular Mexican telenovela starring singer Thalia, which skyrocketed her to international fame, as well as Fernando Colunga and Itatí Cantoral to a lesser extent. It is a remake of the popular 1979 telenovela Los ricos también lloran ("The Rich Also Cry").

María is a 15-year-old orphan girl who loses her godmother, but before she passes, she asks the local priest not to leave María to fend for herself. The priest begs his wealthy benefactor, Don Fernando, to let María live in his home as a servant, but the man instead brings María in as his ward, drawing the ire of his wife Victoria and her niece, Soraya. María falls in love with the Don's Troubled, but Cute son, Luis Fernando, but also has to fight for his affections with the treacherous Soraya and her accomplices.

If you want to think about a Trope Codifier of the modern audience's view of a Spanish telenovela, look no further. The show contained several catfights, staged pregnancies, faked deaths, and heaps of drama. María la del Barrio also had a recent resurgence in popularity among Spanish speakers because of ridiculous antics of the main villain Soraya, as well as a remake for Filipino audiences in 2011.

Rumor has it a Televisa remake is in the works and will be released in Mexico in late 2014-early 2015.

The novela contains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Soraya eventually became this for Luis Fernando, who always rejects her.
    Soraya: Are you rejecting me?!
    Luis Fernando: I have always rejected you! Don't you remember?
  • Actually, I am Her: María eventually revealed Gripina that she was helping Nandito so much because she was the mad girl that gave him away while she was mentally unstable.
  • Adults Are Useless - After Nandito gets stabbed and Esperanza is badly beaten up, there's a group of 5-6 adults simply standing around wondering if there's anything they could do.
  • The Alcoholic - Luis Fernando, at least in the first half of the show is often seen drowning his sorrows, at first because of his breakup with Brenda.
  • Artistic License – Law: Neither Luis Fernando nor Abelardo should have been allowed to be the lawyers in the trial against Soraya. Both of their respective sons, Nandito and Aldo, were called as witnesses. It does not matter for which side. They don't have to resign to the case, just give it to another lawyer of their buffet, but The Main Characters Do Everything.
  • The Atoner - Penelope after María's Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Attack Backfire: Luis Fernando attacked Rosales, the owner of the gambling nightclub, blaming him for the hearth attack of his father, when he tried to get payment from him. Rosales gave him a warning shot, stopped him with his thugs, and took him to the police, to denounce the attack. Luis Fernando was detained, but Rosales was not allowed to leave, not until the Paraffin test checked if he had made a gunshot during the fight, as Luis Fernando claimed. It gave a positive result, and it was also uncovered that Rosales was heading an illegal gambling nightclub. Rosales was detained, and Luis Fernando was allowed to leave, as all evidence suggested that he attacked Rosales on self-defense.
  • The Baby Trap: Luis Fernando thought that Maria was pulling one with him, that their son was actually Vladimir's son. Eventually, he accepts the truth.
  • Beautiful All Along - María isn't by any stretch ugly, but she is given lessons in etiquette and language to turn her from a simple country girl into a Proper Lady.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension - Between María and Luis Fernando, although this mostly faded as they both grew up. Luis's bouts of anger are definitely not played for laughs later, though.
  • Betty and Veronica - María (Betty) and Soraya (Veronica) for Luis Fernando and Vladimir (Betty) and Luis Fernando (Veronica) for María.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Penélope, who replaced Soraya as the Big Bad. But, unlike her predeccesor, she never had any master plan in action other than trying to seduce Luis Fernando. It took her more than seven years to get any results, and she was immediately fired.
  • Black Widow: Soraya seduced the doctor that healed her, got married with him, and killed him at the first chance she got, to receive his money.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: In the final episode, Soraya had María at gun point. The Just Between You and Me gloat took HOURS, and allowed the police to locate her. And even yet, she could have ended things before they enter to the house, but no.
  • Break the Cutie - Most of the show consisted of bad things happening to either María, Alicia, or Nandito.
  • Break the Haughty: Wondering about María's constant activities in the street and her sudden and unexplained happiness, Tita discovered the phone of "Fernando Pérez" (nandito) in her locker, and heard her talking nice with him. She was sure that María was cheating Luis Fernando with her, and became a complete jerkass. And one day, she took things too far, so that María told her the truth. The COMPLETE truth. That Luis Fernando left her during pregnancy, that his request for divoce drove her nuts, that she had her son then, that she gave him away to another woman during her madness, that she was placed into a bedlam house, that she spent more than 15 years searching for that woman, that she finally found her, and that nandito is her son. Tita started to cry, asking María to forgive her.
  • The Bus Came Back: When María was sent to prison, she ended in the same room with Penélope
  • Cassandra Truth: When Nandito started dating Soraya, Luis Fernando told him that she was not her "lover" as she claimed, she was her wife. The wife who cheated him, pretended to be dead, tried to flirt with him when she returned, swore vengueance against the family, and now uses Nandito to continue her plans. Nandito simply refused to believe it.
  • The Cast Showoff - Thalia sang the novela's opening song, and also sang during the show.
  • Cat Fight: In the initial times, when María was still impulsive and savage, an insult from Soraya usually led to this. When she grows up, she tells her to leave, before "I kicked you the way I used to".
  • Conflict Ball - At times.
  • Contrived Coincidence - María kept continously running into Nandito, who was the son that she had abandoned shortly after she gave birth.
  • Dawson Casting / Playing Gertrude - María, Soraya, and Luis Fernando were played by the same actors even after 20 years had gone by on the show. Thalia first appears as María as a 15-year old when she was 24 at the time and Itatí Cantoral first plays an 18-year old Soraya at 20 years old. They don't even bother changing other characters' appearances.
  • Disabled Love Interest - Alicia, for Nandito.
  • The Dulcinea Effect - A kindly doctor decides to take in María during her bout of amnesia.
  • Drowning My Sorrows - Fernando after Brenda breaks up with him.
  • Easy Amnesia - María has two such instances of amnesia, the first of which after her pregnancy when she gives up her child, and the second after her time in prison. Esperanza also had it for some time.
  • Easily Forgiven - The maid just tried to stab her employer? It's okay, she was just having an off day.
  • '80s Hair - On the main cast, only Luis Fernando, but his ex-girlfriend Brenda had huge poofy 80s hair. This series was from the mid-90s.
  • Evolving Credits: The song itself of the opening is slightly updated from time to time to reflect the ongoing themes. It's easy to do when the artist that sings the opening is also the lead actress.
  • Expository Theme Tune - Sung by Thalia herself.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas - Horribly averted. Soraya treats Calixta with disdain and contempt for being a maid, even after she confessed that she's her mother.
  • Evil Is Hammy - Soraya just loves to be a Large Ham when she describes her new master plan, or when she voices her hate for that MALDITA MARGINAL!!! or that MALDITA LISIADA!!!
  • Fake Pregnancy: Soraya got married with Luis Fernando with this trick, as he already hated her.
  • Genre Savvy: Soraya left her wallet at María's room and, aided with the fake testimony of Carlota, accused María of stealing it. And yes, the wallet is in María's room, and she has no defense against the accusations... but did not need them. Nobody believed that, and everybody realized that everything had been set up by Soraya and Carlota.
  • Girls Behind Bars - Not sexualized at all and is simply played for drama. María becomes ruthless in order to survive in prison.
  • Gossipy Hens - Carlota. She's always staying behind the doors to try to spy the things going on, discover some nasty secret, and then go triumphant to the cook and tell the other maids "Did you know that...?"
  • Hand Wave: Although Carlota is always trying to hear conversations from behind the door, at no point she managed to hear that Nandito was María's son. And yet, when the truth was revealed, she already knew. Somehow.
  • Heel-Face Turn - Penelope, after believing that María died in the prison fire.
  • Heroic BSOD - Maria goes through one during her pregnancy. The first time, at least.
  • Heroic Sacrifice - María during the prison fire, although she doesn't die.
  • Hollywood Healing - Soraya is supposedly dead after falling out of a two-story building, but is later shown undergoing intense physical rehab in Texas and she later recovers miraculously.
  • Ill Girl - Alicia, the infamous MALDITA LISIADA!
  • In Love with the Mark: Soraya and Nandito, Durantes and Maria, Aldo and Tita, and Tita and Nandito. In each case, the first one started a fake romance with a secret intention, and then fell in love for real. However, Aldo and Tita was the only romance that stayed for the happy ending.
  • Just Eat Gilligan
    • María gave his son to a random woman in the park, while being a bit crazy for Luis Fernando's request for divorce, and then tried to locate again that woman or her son. She has been doing that for MORE THAN 14 YEARS, including 2 timeskips. She never thought about hiring some private detectives, who may be better seekers than her...
    • The second arc with Soraya could have been stopped on its tracks, if they denounced her for her murder attempt at the end of the first arc. They police takes her prisoner, end of story.
  • Kissing Cousins - Nobody bats an eye to Luis Fernando and Soraya getting married, this is because Soraya isn't actually Victoria's niece.
  • Knife Nut - Penelope's weapon of choice, at least in prison, is a switchblade.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father - Calixta's revelation that she is actually Soraya's mother.
  • Love Makes You Evil
    • Soraya had a genuine love for Luis Fernando, even if a little twisted, but it only led her to manipulate him to get married with her against his will, attempt revenge schemes when he rejected her, and more revenge schemes against María, that she blamed of Luis Fernando's rejection.
    • It got worse when Soraya actually fell in love with Nandito. It led to the whole "¡¡¿¿QUÉ HACES BESANDO A LA LISIADA??!! scandal.
  • Makeover Montage - María's "transformation" into a true lady.
  • Mama Bear - You do not want to get in between María and her children.
  • May-December Romance - Nandito and Soraya. Luis Fernando also assumed Nandito was María's lover before he knew better.
  • Monochrome Past: Since the second half of the series onwards, each flashback of something important said by someone does not replay the scene, but rather places the character on a sepia color and talking to the screen (not as a Fourth Wall Observer, but meaning that it's the way that the quotation is remembered by the one that heard it).
  • Motive Decay: When the series began, Victoria and Carlota were evil jerks that hated María and plotted to get rid of her. Victoria warmed on María when she helped her husband Fernando with so much care when he was ill, and turned into her friend and trusted confidant. Carlota was slowly flanderized into a mere gossip woman, hearing from behind the doors just for the sake of it, but without revealing the secrets that would make harm (such as Tita's true origin). She even used her gossip to help María at times.
  • Mr. Fanservice - Luis Fernando, who had no less than three romantic interests in the series and was often shown in either shirtless or swimsuit scenes, at least in the first half of the show. The actor, Fernando Colunga, is often seen in Spanish gossip magazines and is still playing lead roles in novelas nearly 20 years later.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse - Soraya's usual MO for dealing with people, particularly Maria.
  • Not Me This Time: When the De la Vega family started to receive anonymous mails from Soraya, which they thought dead since 15 years ago, they thought that it was all a bad prank of Penélope and her husband.
  • Not Quite Dead - Soraya falls out of a three-story building and is believed to be dead, but we later see her in intensive recovery in Texas later on.
  • Oh, Crap: The face of Soraya when Esperanza returned, with her memory recovered and no longer fearing her.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: It seemed that Luis Fernando's days as an alcoholic were just a dark and well forgotten past. Carlota mentioned this when Nandito first came drunk, and then Luis Fernando himself.
  • Open Secret: That Nandito is the lost son of María. Right before revealing it to Luis Fernando, everybody else already knew it. To the point that María took her home, in the absence of Luis Fernando, and had no need for any secrecy.
  • Parental Incest - Luis Fernando thought that Nandito, their son, was actually Maria's lover.
  • Plot Hole: Nandito lost his wallet at Soraya's house the same day Calixta died, which made him the main suspect. María claimed to be the murderer, to prevent Nandito from going to jail. Some days later, the police officers told that there was no reason to suspect from nandito, and that María had clearly lied to protect him. Still, it was never specified which new information arised to deny such a heavy smoking gun against nandito.
  • Police Are Useless - The police only ever turn up at the right moment twice.
  • Put on a Bus - Vladimir mysteriously disappears forever after María turns him down. According to the actor, there was going to be a further plotline where he became involved with Soraya, but it never happened.
    • Luis Fernando's sister Vanessa disappears in the second half of the show as well.
  • Rags to Riches - Maria starts off in the series as a destitute orphan girl and eventually becomes a wealthy lady.
  • Rich Idiot with No Day Job: Luis Fernando began as one, but got a job as part of his slow redemption. Maria refused to become this kind of rich and insisted to have a job; but gave it up when she lost her son and started looking for him all day (which became her job). She finally found her son, but did not return to work then.
  • Rule of Drama - Of course, it's a soap opera.
  • Self-Made Orphan - Soraya, after she kills Calixta.
  • Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome - At least they used a time skip to explain the kids getting older.
  • Swiss Cheese Security: Luis Fernando ordered her secretary that Soraya is not allowed in his office and had to be removed from the building if she returns. Soraya simply appears as if she was at home, hangs up the secretary's phone, and tell her that she'll go in unannounced. Nobody stops her, and nobody thinks about calling the security guards either.
    • The next day, the secretary stops her, but Soraya says that she will not leave until she talks with Luis Fernando. Luis Fernando reminds his secretary of his explicit orders; but again, she's allowed in, instead of taken outside by the security.
  • Talking Your Way Out - María tries this when Soraya has kidnapped her and she regains her memory, but by then Soraya has completely lost her shit.
  • They Do - Luis Fernando and Maria get married about halfway into the series.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: María told Luis Fernando, when she was getting out of her madness (but still at the Bedlam House) that she had given away the baby. Luis Fernando ignored it, he thought that she was still a bit lost in her madness. To make it clear that he did not believe what she was saying, he comforted her, and told her that "if I ever find out that you gave away my son, I would never forgive you. I would despise you, forever".
  • Throwing Off the Disability: Alicia got her legs healed at the last episode.
  • Time Skip: María lost her son, started looking for it... and seven years passed. She met her son, without knowing it was him, and Luis Fernando cheats her with Penelope, who is fired. María resumes her search for her son... and another 7 years pass. By the time she founds her son, it has been 14 years.
  • Title Drop - María is often called "María, la del barrio" as an insult.
  • Too Clever by Half: Calixta was not concerned when María was taken to the hospital: there is nothing that any doctor may do, and her recipe is completely undetectable. Guess again: they detected that María was victim of a poison made with herbs, and healed her with a gastric lavage. Perhaps Calixta could fool the doctors some decades ago, but Science Marches On.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: "De muy chamaca se enamoró, y por duras dolencias, se desquició..."
  • Trauma Button: María can not share her happiness with Luis Fernando and told him that Nandito is her long lost son, finally found. He is fine with her because he thinks that their son is dead, and that María just deludes himself by thinking otherwise and searching for him every day. He once said, and María always remembers, that "if I ever find out that you gave away my son, I would never forgive you. I would despise you, forever".
  • Troubled, but Cute - Luis Fernando is introduced in the show as a bitter and angry alcoholic, mostly because of his breakup with Brenda. He takes out most of his anger on either Maria or Soraya.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Soraya, when she got married in the United States and killed her husband, and then lorded over his disabled daughter and her maid.
    • She also tried to do it when she got married with Luis Fernando, but he and his family were always ready to put her in her place.
  • Unwanted Harem - María attracts just about every eligible bachelor on the show. Luis Fernando does the same with most of the women.
  • Weddings for Everyone: In the last episode, Maria and Luis Fernando get married again. And we also get informed of several new happy couples and marriage anouncements: Veracruz and Gripina, Nando and Alicia, Tita and Aldo, Urbano and Felipa, the doctor and María's friend in the prison, Dorantes and a lawyer of his buffet, etc.
  • Wicked Stepmother - Soraya eventually. She marries the doctor that helped her recover after her fall and later had him killed, leaving the doctor's daughter Alicia with Soraya.
  • Would Hit a Girl: When Soraya accused Fernando of having a forbidden love with Maria, and then trying to couple her with Luis Fernando as a secondary plan, Fernando did not took the insults lightly.