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Our research utilizes a gender studies perspective in the context of television fiction research to investigate the models of the forms of masculinity and relationships that arise through the analysis of the Catalan TV series Porca Misèria/Pig Misery (Joan 2004). The methodology followed is to carry out a quantitative and qualitative textual film analysis of the male characters based on a scale, in order to evaluate the components of the love relationships. The conclusion that emerges provides four different modes of masculinity (dialogic, narcissistic, caring and Don Juan masculinity) and, accordingly, four different styles of heterosexual love relationships: ‘bonding love’; ‘inclusive love’; ‘caring love’ and ‘Donjuanesque love’. This constitutes a further step towards the future portrayal of men in TV series that manages to steer clear of clichéd representations and is more in tune with the new social realities of masculinity.
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Observatory: The models of love in TV fictional series. Case study: Porca misèria
1. The inter-subject construction of emotions and
their representation in the media
A fertile concept to study emotions, their inter-subject cons-
truction and how they are represented in the media is that of
the ‘structure of feeling’ by Raymond Williams. As pointed
out by Nightingale (1999, 89), “the structure of feeling be-
came a means to achieve the purpose of explaining con-
sumption (why we consider the texts are agreeable), instead
of a way of understanding culture”. For Williams (1975, 64-
65), the structure of feeling is “the culture of a specific
period: it’s the specific consequence of how all the elements
are experienced that occur in the general organisation […]
This does not mean that the structure of feeling, to a greater
extent than social character, is shared in the same way by
all individuals in a community. But I believe that it constitutes
a very deep and extensive pro-perty, in all contemporary
communities, precisely because communication depends
on this.” We should remember that, for Williams (1975, 63),
social character is an important system of behaviours and
attitudes that is learned both formally and informally. For this
author, the dominant social character conditions the struc-
ture of feeling but each new generation will construct its own
structure of feeling that, obviously, does not appear ex nihilo
but is a different way of interpreting and experiencing every-
day realities. So this structure of feeling becomes evident,
from the different types of dress to different musical tastes,
in the idea proposed by Nightingale (1999, 88) when talking
The models of love in TV fictional series.
Case study: Porca misèria1
Pilar Medina, Miquel Rodrigo, Sue Aran, Rosa-Àuria Munté and Joan Tharrats
Television provides us with insights into our society’s
discourse on what is considered to be love and on
the relationships of couples: audiovisual fiction feeds
off reality to facilitate viewer identification and, at the
same time, ends up being a source of information. In
this way, the model feeds back on itself. We are the-
refore presenting a model to analyse discourse and
we apply this to the fictional series Porca misèria. Of
the three levels proposed by the analytical model this
article focuses on the second (the narrative structure
of romantic feeling, NSRF), analysing the narrative
discourses of the three main couples from the series
and drawing basic conclusions.
Fictional series, discourse analysis, romantic rela-
tionship, romantic stereotypes.
Pilar Medina, Miquel Rodrigo*, Sue Aran, Rosa-Àuria
Munté and Joan Tharrats
Lecturers at the Blanquerna Faculty of Communication
(Ramon Llull University) and on the Audiovisual
Communication Studies at Pompeu Fabra University*
1Research carried out thanks to the grant awarded at the 3rd
Grant Application for research projects on audiovisual commu-
nication of the Consell de l’Audiovisual de Catalunya. The com-
plete report (Violència simbòlica i models amorosos en la ficció
televisiva seriada per al consum adolescent i juvenil. Estudi de
cas: Porca misèria) can be consulted at <>.
of “the structure of sensibility” of an era. Along these lines,
Ang (1996, passim) applies Williams’ concept to the genre
of TV melodrama and talks of the tragic structure of feeling.
Viewers of TV soap operas recognise and share the struc-
ture of feeling of the melodramas they consume and that is
why they feel attracted by these programmes and are grati-
fied by them. Following this same argument, Ang (1996, 87),
in his analysis of the reception of the TV series Dallas,
arrives at the conclusion that “at least what these fans like is
the sense of emotional realism. More specifically, this rea-
lism is related to the recognition of a tragic structure of
feeling, which is considered real and which makes sense for
these viewers.”
For our part, being inspired partly by Williams and Ang, we
would like to propose a number of concepts that help us to
analyse the representation and appropriation of TV romantic
stories. That is why we will focus, with regard to the
structure of feeling, on romantic models and relationships in
television fiction.
Levels of analysis of the structure of romantic
Our proposal focuses on the specific study of romantic
feeling based on three levels of analysis. Firstly, there is the
structure of social romantic feeling (SSRF), the general
framework shared by most people and that forms part of the
dominant feeling. Here we come close to the concept of
Williams, although more specifically for the aspect we are
studying (romantic feeling). Evidently, we are at the socio-
cultural level of a specific community where there can be
different ways of making sense of romantic feeling. Notwith-
standing this, we can readily agree that the hegemonic
model, although it might not be accepted, is definitely the
most well-known by all members of the community.
Secondly, there is the narrative structure of romantic
feeling (NSRF), the romantic models that appear in the me-
dia stories analysed. In other words, the idea is to recognise
what the structure is of the feelings narrated. At this level
would be the analysis of the romantic representation
specified in the media story. Due to the characteristics of
mass culture, the representation of this romantic structure is
usually easy to recognise by viewers as, except in highly
alternative television programmes, it forms part of the hege-
monic model of the “structure of social romantic feeling”.
Finally, there is the structure of experienced romantic
feeling (SERF); i.e. how media stories are interpreted by
80 Quaderns del CAC: Issue 29
Structure of social romantic feel ing
Narrative structure of romantic feeling
Structure of experienced
romantic feeling
Table 1. Levels of analysis of the structure of romantic discourse
Source: In-house.
specific social actors. Consequently, firstly we can appre-
ciate how they react to the television narrative and, second-
ly, how they creatively re-interpret the structure of social
romantic feeling.
As can be seen, these three levels are interconnected.
Although the schemas are a poor approximation of complex
phenomena, we can establish some of the relations
between these three levels. We can therefore consider that
the first level is the most general and the third level the most
specific. As if it were a matrioska or Russian doll, the struc-
ture of social romantic feeling (SSRF) holds the narrative
structure of romantic feeling (NSRF) while this, in turn, holds
the structure of experienced romantic feeling (SERF).
The structure of social romantic feeling (SSRF) conforms
to the spirit of an era, subjecting to norms and sanctioning
different ways of loving. It’s a social text of undefined con-
tours and sometimes contradictory content. This structure,
like any open system, ranges from preserving the system to
the changes that will modify the same system. In other
words, this is not a written, closed social text but a text that
is continuously being written and rewritten and that, at the
same time, has permanence. This social text would in fact
be a palimpsest.
The narrative structure of romantic feeling (NSRF) is made
up of different narrations and self-narrations. Narrations co-
me from different genres and subjects of the narrative enun-
ciation. They are fictional stories, stories that refer to reality
and hybrid stories that refer, directly or indirectly, to roman-
tic relations. Here many different heterogeneous stories are
involved, from films to novels or traditional tales narrated
orally and a whole heteroclite group of narrations within the
narrative genre of fiction. These stories establish the narra-
tive structures of romantic feeling, which may be different in
each narration.
On the other hand, we must recognise that, at a general le-
vel, it is difficult to establish the structure of experienced ro-
mantic feeling (SERF) in each specific case. It’s complex to
establish how the structure of social romantic feeling (SSRF)
and the narrative structure of romantic feeling (NSRF) are
experienced in each person and in all their nuances. But it is
also difficult to clarify which story of the narrative structure of
romantic feeling has the strongest influence on the structure
of social romantic feeling and how the different stories
interact in the narrative structure of romantic feeling; i.e.
their intertextual relations and how they achieve extratextual
relations with the self-stories of each person.
Observatory: The models of love in TV fictional series. Case study: Porca misèria
Table 2. Relation of the different stories in the narrative structure of romantic feeling
Source: In-house.
Structure of social romantic feeling
In spite of this difficulty, we can note a couple of elements
we consider to be significant. Firstly, the narrative structure
of romantic feeling of a specific story (in our case, the fictio-
nal series Porca misèria) can be a trigger for interpreting
romantic self-stories. Hence its influence on the structure of
experienced romantic feeling. Secondly, fictional works can
have a modelling effect. In their narrative structure of
romantic feeling, they offer models of romantic relations that
can frequently be sanctioned, positively or negatively.
Below we detail some aspects in the series under study.
2. Narrative structure of romantic feeling (NSRF)
in Porca misèria
In accordance with the analytical model proposed, we now
present the application of the second level of the model
(NSRF) to a specific audiovisual product: the series Porca
misèria (first and second episode). For evident reasons of
space, we are focusing this analysis on three of the four
narrative structures of romantic feeling (NSRF): the rela-
tionship between Pere and Laia, the relationship between
Roger and Sònia, and the relationship between Natàlia and
Jordi, and we will leave for another occasion the analysis
around the narrative structures of Àlex, as well as reflections
resulting from the first level of analysis of the model (the
narrative structure of social romantic feeling, SSRF).
a. Confluent love. “We’re a team”: Pere and Laia
In addition to being the central characters in the series,
the narrative structure of romantic feeling (NSRF) of the
relationship between Pere and Laia appears as the ideal
prototype that needs to be achieved in our new times of
post-modernity (Lipovetsky 1999). It is a relationship full
of commitment and romanticism, albeit adapted to the
sign of the new times, with spaces for certain moments
of idealism but very rooted to the reality of everyday
demands. The ideals of romantic love shown by the cha-
racters are framed within the ideals of personal freedom,
where a person feels free to commit him or herself to
another. A relationship that includes sexuality and pas-
sion, although also going beyond these. Starting with
falling in love, Pere and Laia arrive at a romantic rela-
tionship of real commitment to each other, along the line
that makes us think of the concept of “pure relations” or
“confluent love” as discussed by Giddens (2000): “In a
pure relationship, confidence does not have external
supports and must develop on a basis of intimacy. Confi-
dence means trusting the other and also believing in the
capacity of the respective ties to withstand future trau-
mas. [...] Trusting the other is also putting your faith in
the individual’s capacity to act with integrity” (Giddens
2000, 128; our italics).
However, the character of Pere reminds us that the so-
cial changes in relations between men and women are
only feasible if both (men and women) change. In other
words, that Laia also finds a man, Pere, in her bio-
graphical path, who has managed to distance himself
from the corset of a male identity that focuses on virility
or, as pointed out by Connell (2003), on “hegemonic
masculinity”. Badinter (1993) says this in a more radical
and provocative way, adapting the formula of Simone de
Beauvoir: “like a woman, a man is not born, he is made”.
This new confluent-romanticism is based on the premise
of an active relationship of equality in what is given and
received emotionally and that is no longer based on
desire and the promise of eternal future. Unlike the ro-
mantic love of the 19th century, focusing on “that special
person”, confluent love has more of a chance to become
established because it looks for a “special relationship”
with that specific person. While the role of the man in the
romantic forms of the past was relegated to a role of
emotional distancing and inability, in confluent love he is
expected to be able to show and talk about his emotions
and also to be able to give affection.
Pere and Laia’s relationship is an example of seeing
relationships as a joint task of mutual emotional collabo-
ration. For Giddens (2000), this idea of emotional colla-
boration is precisely one of the great transformations of
modern society as it represents the incorporation of
emotional intimacy into the sphere of matrimonial ties. In
this respect, the characters give life to a renewed con-
cept of emotional intimacy understood as “a transactio-
nal negotiation of personal ties by equal people... The
intimacy entails the absolute democratisation of the
interpersonal domain” (Giddens 2000, 12-13). Bauman
refers to this more poetically, which we particularly like:
“Without humility or courage there is no love” (Bauman
82 Quaderns del CAC: Issue 29
2005, 22). And Pere does this in a more direct and
commonplace way: “Hey! As far as I’m concerned we’re
a team”. In the words of Beck and Beck-Gernseim
(1998), this is not, at any time, a call to return to the
tranquil past of traditions but a detailed, critical analysis
of the elements of risk entailed by an increasingly indivi-
dualistic society in the economy-based demands of the
employment market which, however, do not protect the
individual from loneliness or rootlessness. As proposed
by the authors, one of the questions implicit in the couple
made up of Pere and Laia is related to the difficulty in
uniting two self-planned biographies (Beck and Beck-
Gernseim 1998, 98).
The more complicated it is to make sense of external
pressures (self-realisation, struggles regarding work,
advancement, success [...]), the greater the need to find
in the world of relationships a personal sense of bond, of
being rooted, of security and the prevention of lone-
liness. In these everyday conversations between Pere
and Laia on their respective jobs, we can see an exam-
ple of intimate conversation, intimate if you will, in their
arguments but full of complicity. Without doubt, being
able to share with a partner one’s headaches of pressu-
re at work is one of the current indicators of emotional
intimacy. Reality reminds us of the importance of being
flexible, autonomous and independent in the world of
work, but the human need remains to find in another (in
this case one’s partner) the companion in life who listens
to all our fears and weaknesses.
With regard to sexuality, for Giddens (2000) monogamy
is no longer an undeniable requirement imposed a priori
but has become a way of demonstrating (albeit a par-
ticularly relevant way) mutual trust. This is perhaps the
other great change introduced by the author in addition
to his claim for a democratic conception rather than a
more traditional view of love: the alternative that a
relationship of emotional intimacy contains sexual
exclusivity not as a predetermined obligation but as
evidence of the trust placed in the other. In some way,
we are reminded of the fact that what causes harm in
terms of unfaithfulness is not infidelity per se but the pain
of having been deceived and the difficult consequences
this has for mutual trust (which, without confusing this
with blind or puerile trust, does represent the peace of
mind of not having to suspect or doubt one’s partner). In
fact, Porca misèria is also sensitive to this new
possibility: while Laia is in Utah she meets John, with
whom she has sexual relations (or perhaps we should
call it “sexual contact” since, while he shows himself to
be interested in a more continuous relationship with
Laia, she rejects this possibility). However, the context in
which this sexual contact is shown does not come from
a pact of sexual freedom between Pere and Laia. If
Giddens perhaps is noting a future possibility, Porca
misèria shows us a more present and contemporary
reality in our real life streets: infidelity as a result of
confusion, anger and loneliness, with the subsequent
price to pay the morning after: remorse and feelings of
guilt. These emotional precedents (confusion, anger and
loneliness) and their results (remorse and guilt) are the
elements that establish a radical difference between this
kind of infidelity and that of the character of Roger, to
whom we dedicate the next section.
b. Narcissistic love. A zapping relationship: Roger and
Although the main characters in the series are Pere and
Laia, the narrative structure of romantic feeling (NSRF)
of Roger and Sònia is interesting as an example of how
Sònia puts herself into risky situations with the internal
belief that she is in love (but blind to the external
evidence). On the other hand, Roger embodies a new
format of romantic relations characterised by weak,
loose commitment that must not interfere with other one-
off, pleasurable or uncommitted experiences. Hence the
word zapping, in the same way that a viewer who prefers
a certain programme still doesn’t hesitate to “jump” to
other programmes (and, extending the metaphor, to
other people, experiences, jobs, etc.) that are more inte-
resting at that moment... Why fidelity?
As we are reminded by Lasch (1991), narcissism has
spread as a prototype of social functioning. Unlike the
Victorian times when Freud could note the importance of
guilt and emotional repression, today is a time of desire
and impulsiveness. In a society where all dreams might
come true, sacrifice no longer means what it used to. In
narcissistic functioning one is entitled to everything and
personal pleasure ends up being the driving force
Observatory: The models of love in TV fictional series. Case study: Porca misèria
behind one’s actions. Roger is the image of the
successful person who is proud of/satisfied with himself
and who does not hesitate to show this to others. There
are no weaknesses or doubts but desires that are
satisfied voraciously and impulsively.
Together with addictive behaviour, narcissism is one of
the typical diseases of our time. In some way, the nar-
cissistic style unconsciously believes that, if everything
outside might fail, the best solution is to focus on the
unrepeatable marvels of oneself. Feeling oneself to be
someone who is superior, dividing up the world into
strong and weak people is an unconscious attempt to
overcome the fear of being abandoned or rejected. Nar-
cissistic people (Roger) cannot achieve intimacy with
another person because this would mean having to
expose their own pains and fears with the internal confi-
dence that the other loved one will know how to resolve
them and will know how to protect their importance. A
narcissistic person cannot share with another except in
situations of extreme conflict and personal collapse,
because to communicate with another person one first
needs to recognise pains and weaknesses in oneself.
Hence the importance of the narcissistic protective shell:
there is nothing to communicate because there are no
weaknesses or pain.
While internal anxieties are mollified via a narcissistic
structure, Roger represents an egotistical narcissism
that is more focused on impulses and desires, features
that, as noted by Lipovetsky and Charles (2006), would
more properly characterise our “hypermodern” time. In
this narcissism, there is no room for scruples or remorse.
And this he puts into words when his brother recrimi-
nates him for having sporadic sexual relations with other
women while married to Sònia.
Under his or her soft, superficial sociability, the narcissist
of the 21st century hides difficulties in psychological inti-
macy and relational commitment. Like a child, nothing
can be definitive because they always hope and long for
the possibility of new exciting adventures and new
appetising gifts (in the form of consumer products but
also as relationships to be consumed), which must not
be sacrificed. Only weak people make sacrifices and
only frustrated people commit themselves, using the
argument of commitment as an excuse to hide their
failure and the impossibility of continuing on the path of
adventure. Roger is neither weak nor frustrated, he is
not a social loser because he knows perfectly well the
rules to “selling yourself” and voraciously looks for plea-
sure both at work and in love. But this is zapping, in the
sense of giving the external appearance of commitment
(in this case with Sònia) but with the intimate internal
belief that this commitment does not justify sacrificing
adventure with other people and situations where Sònia
is not involved.
One of the questions that must be asked is how indi-
vidual narcissism can overcome the examination of
romantic commitment with another person. And Roger
gives us the answer: by transforming emotional ambi-
valence (“it’s either one or the other, but not both at the
same time”) into emotional division (“he’s in love with
Sònia but that has nothing to do with his sexual relations
with other women. They’re two different things”). If
earlier we remembered the Freudian times of guilt and
repression, now is the time of a divided I where there is
no chance for remorse or guilt to arise because the aim
is to keep each parcel of joy separate from the rest.
Sònia represents the dangerous force of love when it is
blind and deaf to the numerous signs of risk appearing
at so many times in her relationship with Roger. Seeing
how she behaves with Roger’s imperative and de-
manding requirements, it reminds us of the romantic
female ideology of sacrifice and abnegation. It’s not hard
to give in because it’s all in the name of love. And
personal sacrifice for love continues to be a great social
predicament, from which thinkers are not always
immune. We have an example of this in Bruckner (2002,
182) when he writes: “Above all, love supposes that we
accept to suffer because of the other and because of his
indifference, ingratitude or cruelty” and that, out of con-
text, this can even be understood as a defence for
abnegation, in spite of the suffering.
Returning to sacrifice, one of the basic characteristics in
sacrifice is the dynamics of power. Roger always ends
up imposing his will and Sònia consciously gives in. The
trick is the unconscious belief on the part of the woman
that constantly giving in to the desires of her partner
shows just how strong her feelings are for him and, at
the same time, shows “subtle” dominance because,
84 Quaderns del CAC: Issue 29
since she allows herself to be dominated, in reality she
is the one that dominates. But we must not forget that
believing yourself to be free while in a trap does not
mean that you are not entrapped.
It should be noted that Sònia is aware of her submission
to the imperative demands of her partner but, if this
doesn’t put her on the alert, it’s because she is in love
with Roger and, in some way, “the sacrifice doesn’t
matter if it’s because I love him”. As this is voluntary
sacrifice, not forced, there is no possibility of complaint
(in the mind of Roger, but also in Sònia’s own mind). If
she has decided to make the sacrifice then it’s because
she wants to and this eliminates any chance of protest
because she could have always fought more to defend
her own position. This is one of the great situations of
risk in the female romantic ideology.
When talking about this female romantic ideology, we
must also talk about the role played by a number of
beliefs and expectations concerning falling in love and
romanticism. Sònia is not the only woman in the series
who values romanticism (remember Laia’s words “I
believe that, if you’re in love, you know for certain... If
you doubt, then you’re not in love... because falling in
love is something physical, when you see him, I don’t
know... your heart jumps and your legs tremble and...
What’s happening?! I really believe it!”). But we are
interested in highlighting the character of Sònia because
her romantic expectations hinder her capacity to realise
that the partner she has chosen cannot commit in the
same way that she is prepared to commit. Although a
romantic relationship can arise based on mutual
friendship, the western prototype instilled since the end
of the 18th century (the structure of social romantic
feeling of the model we have proposed, SSRF)
emphasises the role of romantic passion as a funda-
mental ingredient, especially for women. There are
many ways of starting and maintaining a romantic rela-
tionship but it seems that there is one that prevails over
the rest: the one that comes from falling in love, from the
intense thrill in discovering the other and one’s own thrill
in the discovery.
However, we should make an important proviso here:
before we spoke of the zapping of Roger as an uncons-
cious shell that protects him from possible disappoint-
ment, but interpreting his unconscious mechanisms is
one thing and excusing him the pain he causes to others
(in this case Sònia) because he is unaware of this is
quite another. Confluent love between two adults must
be based more on the emotional resources each one is
capable of contributing to the relationship than on the
weaknesses and/or lacks once has and that the other
might feel the unconscious need to protect and justify.
Through Sònia’s suffering, it is easy to understand the
risks of an emotionally unbalanced relationship.
c. Love-friendship. Natàlia and Jordi: affection without
The narrative structure of romantic feeling (NSRF) acted
out by Natàlia and Jordi is, in some way, the con-
firmation of the importance given in today’s world to
passionate falling in love as a basic element to con-
solidate a relationship.
We should remember that Natàlia has fallen deeply in
love with Roger, is aware of her feelings but has decided
to take it no further with him because, as she herself
says, she has suffered with him and is afraid of suffering
again. It’s within this emotional context that the character
of Jordi appears, a good man, sincerely in love with her
and ready to commit himself seriously to the relationship.
In this respect, it is interesting how Porca misèria treats
the male characters. Unlike other series studied,2the
personal relationship the different male characters in
Porca misèria have with love, their expectations in terms
of their relationships and their romantic demands are
complex and not very stereotypical (in some cases not at
all). The character of Jordi is a clear example of this. A
man appears who is sincerely in love and sincerely
committed to his romantic relationship, capable of ver-
balising his feelings, his needs and his fears, sensitive
enough to realise Natàlia’s moods and respectful
Observatory: The models of love in TV fictional series. Case study: Porca misèria
2“Estereotips del món de la parella i la seva representació en les sèries de ficció. Implicacions per a la construcció de la identitat en la
jove preadolescent i adolescent” (research focusing on the series Los Serrano). Research subsidised by the Institut Català de les Dones
(2005, file U-55/05). Unpublished report.
enough to observe and wait, capable enough to be
ashamed of his own attack of jealousy... Why does
Natàlia have any doubts? Surely because affection
without passion is not love, or at least it doesn’t seem so
to us within our contemporary context (Castillo and
Medina 2007; Medina, Castillo and Davins 2006).
If we take the romantic models proposed by Sternberg
(1989), we understand that, while Jordi is capable of
giving Natàlia (and feeling with her) the three basic fac-
tors according to the model for a romantic relationship
-passion, emotional intimacy and commitment– she
needs to deceive herself and she commits to him and to
the relationship (the “commitment” element of the model)
because she feels cared for and valued by Jordi (ele-
ment of “intimacy” that she feels towards him) although
her passion lies, more or less consciously, with another
man, Roger. Far from the stereotypical views of the role
of self-deception, that of Natàlia is not at all stereotypical
nor is it far from what we might observe in the real lives
of real people. But how many real couples could start
from this unbalanced base? When a relationship starts,
unless it’s an adolescent one, it does not start from an
even playing field; we all, to a greater or lesser degree,
start a new relationship with our own romantic baggage
on our backs, but it’s not always baggage of bad
memories. There is also the possible melancholy for a
relationship that couldn’t go on. We look at the new rela-
tionship from this personal circumstance, from our own
baggage, and there are some who will have a go and
succeed, while others will always drag the initial im-
balance with them, to a greater or lesser degree, and
others won’t be able to overcome this and the couple will
break up. What does all this depend on? The series opts
for this last possibility and leads the couple made up of
Natàlia and Jordi to their break-up, based on the fact that
Natàlia continues working with Roger and therefore
continues to see him every day. There is no possibility of
distance (in time and/or space) which might help the
memory to become diluted and fade away. The passion
can be created anew every day by going to work and,
the option chosen by the script, the passion towards
Roger could end up being stronger than the intimacy and
commitment towards Jordi. We should be thankful that
the series does not present this path as the classic
triumph of love (in the quaint manner of romantic novels)
but a more human, more ambivalent Natàlia appears,
capable of recognising the value of Jordi and his sincere
feelings and of knowing she is guilty of her own contra-
dictory feelings. It shouldn’t be easy to sacrifice passion
with the feeling of making do with intimacy... Or at least
it’s not easy at a time when passion is so championed.
In short, romantic passion has fallen out with com-
passion. Natàlia seems to agree with Bruckner (2002,
184) when he says “A demanding freedom is not a
freedom that is preserved but a freedom that exposes
itself to burn-out. Passion is perhaps condemned to mis-
fortune; but never feeling passion is an even greater
misfortune”. This is the possibility but also the tyranny of
our new romantic scenarios.
3. Conclusions
The system, against the proposed romantic models of the
different narratives, opposes its ability to integrate (as non-
hegemonic, possible, minority, marginal, etc.) or not these
models into the structure of social romantic feeling. The
different difficulties and romantic plots of Pere, Laia, Sònia,
Roger, Natàlia, Jordi, etc. help us to understand how the
romantic constructs form part and are a manifestation of a
cultural symbolic world. This fiction has helped us to analyse
and reflect on the symbolic keys to how romance functions
in today’s society.
Without conflict there is no story and the romantic plot has
always been a good source of dramatic conflict for scripts
and this is taken into account in many successful fictional
series in Spain (for example Médico de familia, Los Serrano,
Cuéntame cómo pasó, Aquí no hay quien viva...).
Remembering the words of Fuenzalida (1992, 161), “the
couple and family also appear as a social space in which
emotion is valued, since conflicts of feeling and affective
reactions to life are expressed there”. Porca misèria moves
away from the family as a stage for members of different
generations to come together and opens the doors of the
script to a specific social reality: couples and their specific
With the proposed model with three levels of analysis, we
are interested in Porca misèria because, among other rea-
86 Quaderns del CAC: Issue 29
sons, the script figures strongly in the romantic narrative, so
that we can easily make the jump from the first level (struc-
ture of social romantic feeling, SSRF) and the second level
(narrative structure of romantic feeling, NSRF) of the theo-
retical model we have produced. Following Morin (1972), we
can state that), as a system, the structure of social romantic
feeling (SSRF) imposes interpretive and evaluative power
on romantic media stories. In fact, we can interpret the
models offered in the narrative structure of romantic feeling
(NSRF) because we have interpretative powers that are
provided by the system. In this way, the system opposes the
whims of the external world with its determinism. In other
words, it offers us the interpretive and evaluative keys and
provides a context for the romantic proposals of the narra-
tions. Homeostasis occurs in the power of the new romantic
realities to define and provide a context. Via this power to
define and classify, the disruptive power is diminished of the
new elements arising in romantic relations. The structure of
social romantic feeling (SSRF) tends to impose itself as an
interpretative matrix, even integrating those narrative
structures of romantic feeling (NSRF) that it initially rejected
or ignored (as has happened, for example, with the incorpo-
ration of homosexual couples as another narrative element
of the script). In this way, the structure of social romantic
feeling changes based on the narrative structures of roman-
tic feeling that circulate in society and in the media. The
different narrative structures of romantic feeling (NSRF) pre-
sented in the series are the representation of how, in our
new times of individualism, a romantic couple attempts to
place themselves on an equal footing emotionally (Pere-
Laia; Roger-Sònia; Natàlia-Jordi). Feelings are also a key
element to the survival of the relationship: romanticism,
sensuality, passion and happiness form part of this new
“romantic demand” that is so attractive and, at the same
time, so tyrannical.
In his reflection on the new role of intimacy, Giddens
(1998, 47) wrote that “someone said that romantic love was
a plot by men against women to fill their minds with
impossible dreams”. We agree, but with some provisos, all
those awoken in us by observing the male and female
characters of Porca misèria. Beyond the conditioning factors
imposed by the demands on femaleness or maleness, our
characters offer us the chance to see non-stereotypical
adults who try, with more or less success, to live their lives
in company. Neither the women of Porca misèria seem
dazzled by the myth of “Mr. Right” that does so much harm
and that still awakens so many sighs of love, nor are the
men in the series a vulgar representation of a maleness fo-
cused on virility and the absence of emotional complexities.
Almost without realising it, we live together reproducing the
asymmetries in affective roles. Taking as “natural, essential
and consubstantial” the female condition of taking charge of
affective relations, and considering “sentimental illiteracy
and emotional coarseness” to be the male condition of all
men end up being an exercise that impoverishes the mind
of any person, at the same time as limiting their personal
potential if these beliefs are taken on without being capable
of questioning them. In this respect, we must not forget that
one of the interests of the research team and around which
this work was structured has always been the role of ro-
mantic stereotypes and their representation in audiovisual
fiction. Finding audiovisual material that refuses to abide by
these archetypical approaches was no easy task and that is
why Porca misèria has been the ideal material for analysis
for our objectives.
Observatory: The models of love in TV fictional series. Case study: Porca misèria
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88 Quaderns del CAC: Issue 29
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