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Series / Malhação

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From the 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 soap-opera for the teenage audience. The series started in 1995, and was set in a fictional Gym Club called Malhação on Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro. Through the years the location varied slightly. Although the name of the soap remained the same, it was set in the Múltipla Escolha (English: "Multiple Choice") High School for nine seasons. In the twenty-second season, the location returned to be a gym, the Gael's Martial Arts Gym, placed within the art school Ribalta. The following season brought the school back. In the later the Academy setting back to "Academia Form".

By the end of the fourteenth season, each episode of Malhação began with a cold open technique, preceded by a retrospective of the previous episodes, continuing the narrative that follows. This technique was a brand of serial, used since the first season, but was abolished from the beginning of the fifteenth season.


"Malhação" reached its peak in the eleventh season, with Guilherme Berenguer, Juliana Didone and Marjorie Estiano, with the following season starring Fernanda Vasconcellos, Thiago Rodrigues and Joana Balaguer as the leads, and the ratings decreased from this season on reach an incredible 42 million viewers.

The plot of the TV series tells stories of the everyday life of teenagers, their daily conflicts, including school, friends, families, and especially their relationships, which occupy the central focus of all the seasons. Every season, a different couple of protagonists occupies the core of the whole story.

This soap opera is also known in Brazil for being the first work of many, many actors and actresses that would become famous in Brazilian movies and TV over the years.


Malhação contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Abhorrent Admirer:
    • Fátima, a fat woman who falls in love with Mocotó.
    • 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 Bernado 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.
  • Abusive Parents: Oh, boy... We have all the examples here, from careless parents, to corrupt businessmen, and even murderers!
  • Alpha Bitch: A recurring type of antagonist.
  • 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.
  • Betty and Veronica: A lot.
    • Gustavo is Archie, Letícia is Betty and Natasha is Veronica.
    • Bernardo is Archie, Betina is Betty and Jaque is Veronica.
    • Fernandinho is Archie, Domingas is Betty and Felipa is Veronica.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Usually the villains pretending to be this to seduce the good guys/girls from the plot.
  • Big Bad: Most if not all seasons have at least one antagonistic character that is usually the cause of the protagonist's suffering.
  • Big Eater: Domingas.
  • Butt-Monkey: Fernandinho.
  • 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.
  • Dawson Casting: Several adult actors played teenagers.
  • Fat Comic Relief: Domingas and Rita.
  • 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.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The worst of the villains will always receive a well-deserved punishment at the end of the season.
  • Long Runner: The thing has been running since 1995! 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 another 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.
    • Letícia, Gustavo and Natasha.
    • Bernardo, Betina and Jaque
    • Angelina, Gustavo and Débora.
    • Fernandinho, Domingas and Felipa.
  • 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.
  • Playing Gertrude: Several actors played parents of actors with little age difference, Aline Fanju is 13 years older than Daphne Bozaski, who played her daughter.
  • 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.
  • Rich Bitch: Débora.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Gustavo has one in the middle of season 11.
  • 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.

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