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Family skeins stop drama rot

Economic woes are boosting homespun shows

MADRID — After four years of uber-reality shows led by “Big Brother” and “Operacion Triunfo,” drama once more rules primetime in Spain.

This fall, three family-oriented skeins have bumped fiction ratings: rookie “Aqui no hay quien viva” (literally, “Nobody Can Live Here”), the second season of “The Serranos,” and “Remember Me” (aka “Tell Me What Happened”) an Intl. Emmy finalist on Nov. 24, and now in its third season.

Their dominance is no coincidence. In the go-getting ’90s, drama turned around professions such as Telecinco’s “Family Doctor,” “Journalists,” “The Police Inspector” and “Dear School Teacher.”

Now conservatism is creeping over Spain, driven by a failing economy. In times of trouble, Spaniards turn to their family rather than state aid to tide them over. TV has simply taken this sentiment to heart.

Concerned for the future, Spaniards are latching onto the past.

Racking up a season high share of 40% and 7.3 million viewers Nov. 23, the setting for “Nobody” seems as outmoded as linoleum — a ’50s-style tenement building and its neighborhood. Its inhabitants are a motley crew of couples — one gay — a scheming wife, a widow, three spinsters, two young femme roommates and the janitor.

Threats come — a new funeral parlor, the janitor’s hernia — and go, but the hood and its inhabitants reassuringly remain.

Bowing Nov. 11 to a season average of 32% and 5.6 million, “Serranos” celebrates a blended family: a widower sets up housekeeping with a divorcee, their multiple offspring, her mother and his (initially) rotten-apple elder brother, back from Mexico.

Ratings leader “Remember Me” (38.5%, 6.6 million viewers) takes a dewy-eyed look at a ’70s family. The father is a died-in-the wool Francoist, the son a commie, the daughter, worse still, a budding actress. But the family pulls together and survives.

All three series are choc-a-bloc with annoyingly cute kids.

“Spanish children don’t have their own programs elsewhere on terrestrial TV. But primetime fiction is perfectly viewable for them,” says Carlos Arnanz, director of research at Corporacion Multimedia. Arnanz also underscores the series’ “conservative, neo-family structures.”

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