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Series / Malhação

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From left to right: Jaque (Joana Balaguer), Bernardo (Thiago Rodrigues) and Betina (Fernanda Vasconcellos), the protagonists of season 12.

"Malhação" ("Young Hearts" in English) is a Brazilian television series.

Malhação was conceived in 1995 by Rede Globo to be different from the other telenovelas on the network: instead of a plot with a defined beginning, middle and end, Malhação would be an anthology. Each season usually lasts around a year, each one with different protagonists. Because of the nature of this narrative, characters could come and go each year, while more popular ones continued. Some protagonists and villains may continue into the next season, but as supporting characters.

During its first half, Malhação tried to maintain the same continuity. The first five seasons are located at the "Malhação" ("Working Out") gym, and the following twelve seasons are located at the "Multipla Escolha" ("Multiple Choice") high school. As of Season 18, the series has finally abandoned any continuity for good, with each season set in different locations and with different characters.

In general, Malhação revolves around teenagers who have to deal with love triangles, sex, drugs, unplanned pregnancies, school routine, etc. The series is also known for having been the debut of dozens of actors and actresses who would become famous in the future.

Malhação had 27 seasons. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the series was forced to take a hiatus of more than a year for the first time, with no expected return. In 2021, Globo officially canceled the series, thus marking the end of an era.

The series has had two spin-offs so far: the first was Malhação de Verão (1996), which is basically a bridge between the first and second seasons and is focused on the characters taking a vacation at the ranch. The second spin-off is As Five (2020), focusing on five characters from season 25. As Five has already been renewed for a second season.

Malhação contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Abhorrent Admirer:
    • Fátima, a fat woman who falls in love with Mocotó. Averted when Mocotó, who initially finds her annoying and ugly, ends up becoming her friend.
    • Jaque falls madly in love with Bernardo, who loves Betina, her best friend. After a fight with Betina, Bernardo has a night of love with Jaque, and she gets pregnant. She ends up losing her child in the middle of the season, and after that, becomes obsessed with getting Bernardo back.
    • Domingas falls madly in love with Fernandinho, who considers her fat and is in love with her thin and beautiful sister Felipa. Later, Fernandinho ends up falling in love with Domingas and the two date.
  • Aborted Arc: This series has a bad habit of removing some supporting characters without any attempt to close their arcs, even when some of them have been in the series for several years. A good example is Rafa, who spends several seasons looking for a girlfriend, and ends up leaving the series without being able to fulfill that goal.
  • Abusive Parents: Oh, boy... We have all the examples here, from careless parents, to corrupt businessmen, and even murderers!
  • Alpha Bitch: Since the series delved into the world of teenagers and high school, it inevitably has to have the requisite queen bee and insufferable rich girl.
  • Artifact Title: The title means "working out", which fits the gym which was the initial setting. Then, four years later, it changed to a high school. Though the 21st season did have a gym as its setting.
  • Artistic License – Education: Earlier during the seasons set in the high school, it was very normal that two or more students would start talking to each other in the middle of a class, about matters unrelated to it, with nobody (including the teacher) batting an eye, let alone interrupting them. Later on, however, they had the teachers scolding the students for chatting during class in order to fix the unrealism.
  • Betty and Veronica: A lot.
    • Gustavo is Archie, Letícia is Betty and Natasha is Veronica. Leticia is a sensitive girl who dresses modestly. Natasha is a rock singer who is constantly nervous and dresses in a more exotic way. It's a bit subverted because Natasha has a personality and clothes that makes her more Tomboy.
    • Bernardo is Archie, Betina is Betty and Jaque is Veronica. Betina is a sweet and sensitive girl who dresses modestly. Jaque is a more seductive girl who dresses in more revealing clothes.
    • Fernandinho is Archie, Domingas is Betty and Felipa is Veronica. Domingas is the fat, friendly girl who dresses conservatively, while her sister Felipa is the typical Ice Queen who dresses more seductively.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Usually the villains pretending to be this to seduce the good guys/girls from the plot.
  • Butt-Monkey: Fernandinho is bullied early in his arc in the series, and his love life with Domingas is a mess.
  • Chubby Chaser:
    • Mocotó dates two fat women during the series, Fatima and Laura.
    • Fernandinho begins the story in love with the thin Felipa, but then dates two chubby women during his participation in the series: Domingas and Rita.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Jaque, the woman with whom Bernardo has a night of love after having a fight with Betina, and who becomes pregnant with him, is precisely Betina's best friend. Bernardo had no idea of that.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Subverted. Jaque becomes pregnant with Bernardo and refuses to abort the child, but he is in love with her best friend, Betina. Despite this, Bernardo decides to take care of the child, while still in love with Betina, leaving Jaque devastated. In the middle of the season, Jaque ends up having a miscarriage. Quickly, Bernardo leaves Jaque to date Betina, and it is at this moment that Jaque becomes an antagonist who makes everything to separate the couple.
  • Has a Type: Fernandinho dates two chubby women during his participation in the series: Domingas and Rita.
  • Long Runner: The series ran on television from 1995 to 2020. Just about half of the actors currently on Brazilian TV (not just its broadcaster Rede Globo) must have had a gig in the show.
  • Long-Runner Cast Turnover: While until 2010 there was a trend to keep the actors from at least the previous season (then it mostly became an anthology with different casts every year), a few actors were mainstays, most notably:
    • Gisele Frade as Drica, between Seasons 8 and 11.
    • Alexander Slaviero as Kiko, between Seasons 10 and 13.
    • André Marques as Mocotó in the first 5 years (plus being brought back for some chapters in 2012).
    • Ícaro Silva as Rafa, between Seasons 10 and 14.
    • Sérgio Hondjakoff as Cabeção for 6 years, between Seasons 7 and 12.
  • Love at First Sight: Bernardo and Betina... and also Jaque for Bernardo, although the feeling is not reciprocal on his part.
  • Love Triangle: A lot.
  • In Season 12, Bernado meets Betina and immediately falls in love with her. However, an accident makes him suspect that she is already compromised. He then meets Jaque, Betina's best friend, who falls madly in love with him. Bernado dates Jaque for a few months to try to forget about Betina, without success. The situation gets complicated when Jaque becomes pregnant with him...
  • In Season 15, Fernandinho is the nerd of the class, who is in love with the beautiful and spoiled Felipa. Felipa finds Fernandinho annoying and unattractive. Domingas, who is sister of Felipa, ends up falling in love with Fernandinho. Domingas is much nicer than Felipa, but shw is also fat, which displeases Fernandinho at first before he ends up falling in love with her in the second half of season.
  • Ms. Fanservice: What to expect from a Brazilian soap opera?
    • Jaque has several bikini scenes in the subplot of students spending their vacations at the beach.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: Natasha when Gustavo discovers all her plots to separate him from Leticia.
  • Put on a Bus: Something inevitable when the series is more than 20 years old. This usually occurs at the end of the season, and the main characters at least have a resolution for their plots, especially romantic couples. Other supporting characters are not so lucky to have their arcs completed satisfactorily, even when they have been on the show for years.
  • Revolving Door Casting: Beginning with first season, only a handful of characters (the more popular ones, like Mocotó, from the gym era, and Cabeção from the high school one) are retained for the following seasons, while the main cast is replaced every year to focus on a new story.
  • Rich Bitch: Débora is the daughter of a millionaire, and is a teenager with a spoiled and unpleasant personality, constantly humiliating everyone around her.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Gustavo has one in the middle of season 11. In this case, the girl even lies about her father's identity to move to Gustavo's school, and tries to kill the girl he loves.
  • Unwanted Harem: Fernandinho is considered by many colleagues as a nerd loser, but Domingas and Rita fall in love with him.
  • Very Special Episode: Often difficult themes about teenage life emerge.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Prior to Season 18, which abandoned continuity, it was unknown where this series took place. Supossedly it was somewhere in the Rio de Janeiro state, but every neighborhood and nearby place mentioned by the characters are clearly fictional.