Brazilians plopped down in chairs gathered around sidewalk TVs and sat down to meals with sets looming over their tables on Friday night as the country settled in for the final chapter of a smash soap opera that enthralled its fans for months.
Avenida Brasil told the story of a young woman’s vengeance on the nouveau-riche stepmother who abandoned her in a landfill, but Brazil avoided a second vengeance — power outages that experts had feared might hit as TV watchers suddenly returned to normal activities once the episode ended.
Earlier on Friday, the national electricity grid warned power distributors to prepare for sudden surges in electricity use from millions of viewers switching on living room lights, raiding refrigerators and turning on microwave ovens after the 100-minute broadcast.
However, as the final minutes of the telenovela drew to a close, there were no reports of any significant power outages blamed on the soap opera.
Telenovelas, prime-time soap operas with average runs of 200 episodes, are hugely popular in Brazil, where the plot lines often become front-page news and where discussions of the heroes and villains are a major topic of conversation.
Aware of the immense popularity of Avenida Brasil, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff postponed a political rally endorsing the governing Workers’ Party mayoral candidate in Sao Paulo. The rally had been set to be held at the same time as the soap opera’s final chapter.
“I haven’t missed an episode of Avenida Brasil since it began, and there is no way I will miss the last chapter,” secretary Elizabeth Sarti said as she sipped a cup of coffee at a Starbucks. “Me and my husband have invited a group of friends for dinner and for the finale.”
The show’s major success was due to the fact that instead of focusing on the rich, it centered on Brazil’s burgeoning middle class, which has grown by 40 million in the last decade. Its main protagonists came from the middle class, while a handful of upper-class characters were relegated to the background.