Follow TV Tropes


Series / María la del barrio

Go To
"Y a mucha honra, María la del barrio soy..."In Filipino: 

Literally: María from the Ghetto/Neighborhood, English title: Humble Maria (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 the ridiculous antics of the main villain Soraya, as well as a remake for Filipino audiences in 2011.

Unmarked spoilers per the identity of the last Big Bad, as it becomes crucial to the plot of almost a third part of the whole series

The novela contains examples of:

  • '80s Hair: On the main cast, only Luis Fernando, but his ex-girlfriend Brenda had huge poofy 80s hair. Surprisingly not a case of Two Decades Behind, and actually a Justified Trope: his series was from the mid-90s, but a Freeze-Frame Bonus reveals that Soraya's pregnancy certificate was delivered the 16th of June 1980, which has to be the exact day the events of episode 9 unfold. Therefore, instead of starting at the time of filming in 1995 and ending in a putative, 90s-like 2010, the show started depicting events that would have been a flashback to the eighties and went forward from there organically or through time skips until it reached the then-present, at the end of filming.
  • 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 Him: María eventually reveals to Gripina that she was helping Nandito so much because she was the mad girl that gave him away while she was mentally unstable.
  • Adam Westing: Itati Cantoral fully embraced her work as a telenovela villain, and worked mainly as a villain from then on. She even made a video guide for being the perfect villain
  • Adaptational Villainy: Esther, Soraya's counterpart in Los ricos también lloran, is a much more nuanced and subtle character and is portrayed as more of a tragic Anti-Villain.
  • Adults Are Useless: In the infamous "Maldita lisiada" scene, after Nandito gets stabbed and Esperanza badly beaten up both by an out-of-control Soraya, 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.
  • Ascended Meme: Itati Cantoral hilarious cameo as Soraya in Orange Is the New Black completely milks Soraya's memetic hamminess and bitchiness for all it's worth.
  • 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.
  • Babies Ever After: In the final moments of the series, Maria reveals to Luis Fernando that she's pregnant with another child.
  • 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.
  • Becoming the Mask: Luis Fernando initially schemes to fake a romantic relationship with Maria and impregnate her in hopes that this will anger his father enough to kick her out of the de la Vega home. Eventually, he falls in love with Maria for real.
  • 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 predecessor, 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, married 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 gunpoint. 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 on 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 divorce 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.
  • Breakout Character: Soraya. More than 20 years after the end of the series, she's still well-known for her over-the-top villainy.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • Contrived Coincidence: María kept continuously running into Nandito, who was the son that she had abandoned shortly after she gave birth.
  • Deal with the Devil: Soraya has a scene bragging about how Satan is the one who had always been there for help when needed. Ironically, she is burned to death in the finale.
  • 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: Nana Calixta is allowed to stay at the De La Vega household at Soraya's insistence even after threatening to stab Don Fernando with a knife.
  • 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. When the latter points out the lack of obvious pregnancy symptoms on her, she simply fakes having a miscarriage.
  • Faking the Dead: Soraya is believed by the other main characters to be dead after being pushed out of a building, but she managed to survive and make a full recovery after intensive physical therapy in Texas.
  • Fish out of Water: María in the De la Vega household, at first.
  • 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...?"
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: "Screeching anger" seems to be Soraya's default mood.
  • Had to Be Sharp: Maria has to become ruthless in prison in order to survive being threatened by the other women.
  • 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.
  • Happily Adopted: Maria. At the beginning of the series, she is taken in by Don Fernando as his ward after she has no family left.
  • 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.
  • Idiot Ball: The infamous MALDITA LISIADA!! scene is full of these. There's three people in the room against one crazy woman, and nobody once bats an eyelid to help the elderly woman being choked to death. When Soraya is finally restrained, instead of just taking the poor disabled girl to safety, they just briefly take her to the door and let her stay there. Oh, and they let go of the restrained Soraya to go help the old lady on the ground that's already being helped by two other people, prompting her to grab a pair of scissors. Everyone stands perfectly still talking to each other about how they can stop the psychotic Soraya instead of just trying to restrain her again or running away. Only after she deals a blow to Nandito's arm, it is then they decide to restrain her. After much drama, and with her yelling out loud she will hunt them down and kill them if they call the police or a doctor, they question whether they should call a doctor or not, while Nandito passes out and bleeds to death. Oh, and shortly after all that, two of her three main victims are seen recovering from the whole ordeal, and the guy who had her restrained brought her there and told everyone she wouldn't do anything bad. Rule of Drama at its finest.
  • Idle Rich: 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.
  • 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 probably 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. Though she later points out that they have as much to lose as she does, since they haven't denounced her, and the whole story would seem way too suspicious and convenient to begin with, and she could easily have accused the De La Vega family of being accomplices in her scheme.
  • Kissing Cousins: Nobody bats an eye to Luis Fernando and Soraya getting married, this is because Soraya isn't actually Victoria's niece.
  • Large Ham: Soraya Montenegro. One of the reasons she's one of the most popular characters from the telenovela.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: It seems that this was a fine telenovela, let's watch it from the start... What? Soraya Montenegro has died? But what about all those "maldita lisiada!" memes everywhere? When did she ever insult a disabled person? Oh, sure: some day, somehow, she will return.
  • Leitmotif: Soraya has her own musical background.
  • 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 for 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.
    • Likewise, Nana Calixta threatens Don Fernando, her employer, with a knife just for slapping Soraya.
  • 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 apparently 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.
    • Though it might make sense for Victoria, whose schemes never went too far and whose main concern was always her family. When Maria was proved to be neither her husband's mistress/secret-daughter nor a danger for her sons, she softened up. Beforehand, she always at least tried to be polite and quickly conceded that Maria wasn't resonsible of her bad education. As for Carlota, she never truly chose a side, eavesdropping on everyone and endangering everybody's plans, so she might simply have slowly evolved from Chaotic Neutral to Chaotic Good.
  • 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 telenovelas 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 had arisen to deny such a heavy smoking gun against nandito.
  • Police Are Useless: The police only ever turn up at the right moment twice.
  • Psychopathic Womanchild: Soraya is basically a spoiled little girl in a grown woman's body. She has no impulse control, no empathy for others, and throws tantrums when she doesn't get her way.
  • Put on a Bus: Vladimir mysteriously disappears forever after María turns him down. According to the actor, there was going to be a further plot-line 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.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Luis Fernando and Maria get married about halfway into the series.
  • Shout-Out: In the first episode, María makes fun of the problems of the wealthy when she encounters Don Fernando at the church, jokingly stating, "Los ricos también lloran, no?". Also doubles as a Mythology Gag, since María la del barrio is a remake of Los ricos también lloran.
  • Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: At least they used a time skip to explain the kids getting older.
  • Spared By Adaptation: Esther dies halfway through Los ricos también lloran, while Soraya escapes several brushes with death. It doesn't take.
  • 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.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: In the finale episode, Maria is shown weeping for Soraya when she is rescued from the burning building. Even though Soraya caused so much pain in her life, Maria didn't want her to burn to death.
  • 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.
  • Tempting Fate: Happens plenty of times in the series, but a notable example is in the first few weeks of the show. Soraya, filled with rage at finding out who her real family is, goes to Osvaldo's apartment to kill him. As she's pointing the gun at Osvaldo, she goes on a rant about her origins, screaming how she has nothing to lose anymore. As Osvaldo is wrestling for the gun, Soraya shouts "I've just discovered the truth about my heritage (mi origen), and I don't care about jail or death! Nothing! Nothing!" They're struggling for the gun (standing up). Osvaldo is able to wrestle the gun away from Soraya, but because she's standing up, she stumbles across the room, and crashes into his glass window, sending her crashing down onto the pavement and her first death.
  • They Killed Kenny Again: Soraya dies a total of THREE times in the series. First time is when she falls out of her apartment window onto the pavement. Second time is in the hospital while she's being treated for injuries related to the fall. Third and final time is when she sets the cabin on fire and gets caught in the middle of it, burning to death.
  • 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 announcements: 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.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: How Maria and Luis Fernando got their marriage resolved in the final episode. Toward the end of the series, Soraya decides that her next stage of her revenge should be to destroy Maria and Luis Fernando's marriage to do so. She employs Gonzalo to take an extremely drunk Luis Fernando to her house. She strips him naked and has her main chambermaid take pictures of her in various suggestive positions with him while wearing only her nightgown. She then puts the pictures in Luis Fernando's suit jacket pocket, and calls Maria to tell her to look in that spot. Maria sees the pictures and says she wants to divorce Luis Fernando. That same day, she takes the fall for Nana Calixta's murder and is sent to prison. Every time Luis Fernando tries to see Maria, she turns him away and insists she wants a divorce. Luis Fernando finally acquiesces to her wishes. Maria says she will marry Gonzalo. However, just before the divorce process can start, the prison fire happens, and everyone presumes Maria for dead. When Maria is discovered to be alive, Luis Fernando apparently forgets all about the divorce process and searches for Maria. Maria is wandering the streets without memory and gets kidnapped by Soraya. She recovers her memory just as Luis Fernando rescues her. Soraya dies in the cabin fire. It then cuts to the next scene, which is two months later. Luis Fernando and Maria are lucky in love as if none of the previous events have happened. While Maria does briefly mention their "two months of reconciliation," there's very little explanation as to how the tension in their marriage was resolved. How did Luis Fenando explain away the very saucy pictures? How he got to Soraya's in the first place? 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.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: Soraya disguises herself as a nurse pretending to care for Maria in the last episodes with a nurse's outfit and a cheap blonde wig.
  • Woman Scorned: Luis Fernando has never loved Soraya, and got married with her forced by circumstances (and always made it very clear); but Soraya hates María with a hellfire fury for "stealing" her man.
  • 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.
  • Yandere: Soraya and Penelope. Soraya eventually evolves into Ax-Crazy.


Video Example(s):


Que haces besando a la lisiada

Soraya Montenegro suddenly finds her boyfriend kissing another woman. She first insults them and then attacks them. The girl is her daughter-in-law, she's crippled and in a wheelchair, but she does not care at all.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / WomanScorned

Media sources: