Globo’s biggest new offering at MipTV, “A Woman’s Fate” also heads up Brazilian TV giant’s market slate which primes gender issues, declaring emblazoned by the unequivocal slogan “The Future is Female.”
Written by Martha Mendonça, Nelito Fernandes, Jo Abdu and Adriana Falcão, the series follows three women whose life tangle when the eldest, Stella, played by Renata Sorrah, decides at her 72 years and during her golden wedding anniversary that she wants a divorce.
Taking control of her life, Stella sets in motion a domino effect that will impact the life of daughter Lívia (Giovanna Antonelli), who unknowingly lives in an unhappy marriage, and Cléo, a working class young woman who begins the series neck-deep in debt.
Directed by Leonardo Nogueira, when compared to traditional Latin American scripted the show broadens the spectrum of female protagonists and the narrative arcs they can now face. “A Woman’s Fate” also delivers a nuanced take on its themes and is in line with the high quality of progressive Globo fiction which its public has come to expect.
Variety talked to Mendonça just before the series’ market premiere on April 12.
The show’s get go is feat of narrative efficiency that establishes both characters and conflict, blending past and present in a sweeping intro. How did you come to it?
When we created the characters and started to outline this story, the team and I knew we needed to present the plot in a convincing way, so that Stella’s asking for a divorce would ring true, especially in the middle of a party. The presentation vignettes – which differ from the pilot and from one episode to the next – are a clip of the story of this seemingly happy family. They helped a lot in this regard.
Characters are fleshed out rapidly with dialog and more importantly with action. Could you talk about your process when it came to creating characters?
Our mantra has always been: “Show, don’t tell.” This is the case even when it came to dialogue, which needed to be subtler and less telegraphed. Character creation had one singularity: All the characters were inspired, albeit slightly, by real people known to the writers. They also sparked a huge sense of identification among female audiences. The comments on social media were always: “This is me,” or “This is my story.”
Audiences might anticipate that glimpsed in the video presentation is some past event that sparks Stella’s reaction. Subverting those expectations lends nuance to a highly interesting character crisis. Could you comment?
We didn’t want Stella to be a cliché wife who is totally subjugated by her husband, with no voice nor space of her own. Her questions were different, internal, related to her personal desires. More than reaching for a professional or emotional goal, Stella wants to reconnect with the young woman she once was, who dreamed of freedom of choice. Yes, she was in love when she got married. Yes, she was incredibly happy. When she turns 72 on her 50th wedding anniversary, she realizes that she’s spent 50 years living the character that was expected of her. After she asks for a divorce, her husband asks: “What do you want?” She herself doesn’t know how to answer. And maybe she likes not knowing how to answer. What seduces her is having so many possibilities opening up for her.
As many other Brazilian series inevitably do, the show portrays the struggle and dynamics between a working class and a sometimes immensely wealthy one. What’s your take on this?
Brazil’s essence – [these days] unfortunately even more – is this inequality. Even if this topic is not stage front and center, it ends up imposing itself. And the responsibility for this inequality lies, to a large extent, with a political class. It is a deadly vicious circle. So, although the series turns on the personal self-improvement of these vey different women, the difficult social situation of Cléo’s family or the corruption which Stella’s husband is engaged in end up creating even more challenges to the women’s freedom and happiness.