Spanglish Comedy & Mispronunciation in 'Ylse'

By 02/10/2009
Spanglish Comedy & Mispronunciation in 'Ylse'

How do you pronounce Ylse? It’s like eel-say. Or, as the main character emphatically states in the series’ first episode, “Think illegal and sexy.”

Sounds easy enough, but some people at the male-dominated news network just don’t know how to hit the hard Spanish vowels. They also take Ylse’s guide to pronunciation a little too seriously. Alas, the misnaming turns out be but a symptom of a larger dilemma our Latina protagonist has with her job and cultural identity.


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Created by and starring Resurrection Blvd. actress Ruth Livier (who originally developed the series as a TV pilot), Ylse is the story of a strong-minded aspiring journalist with a kinda catty entertainment talk show and a intense worship of Oprah. Seriously. In episode 2 we learn the character has a shrine in the corner of her room with pictures of the big O and chants her name to relieve stress (but isn’t that what most women do? Anyway…)

She should be stressed. Ylse’s self-titled show is trying to go into an English-speaking market, so her producers want to make her image more mainstream. The first act? Changing the name of the program – and her name as well – to Maria. It’s and easy way to say “Look this character is a Latina!”without any chance of fumbling the pronunciation.

Unlike the short-lived, cross-cultural cybernovela Alamo Heights S.A., Ylse is less soap opera and more self-deprecating comedy. It’s a mix of lighthearted love triangles in a Spanish-American entertainment environment, except the tops, skirts, and water bras aren’t nearly as low cut, high-hemmed, and push-uppy as you see on Telemundo’s chesty female anchors.

Bi-lingual, foul-mouthed voice overs let the audience hear Ylse’s inner psyche while some of her fantasies, desires, and frustrations play out on screen. Inner monologue might be a cheap, go-to storytelling device that replaces actual character development, but in the realm of web video where an episode over four minutes can seem like an eternity, I appreciate the short cut. Plus, Ylse has a cute accent when she talks to herself.

I must give Ylse props for its dialogue. Rarely do I see an entertainment product where Spanglish flows so naturally, quintessentially capturing the mismash of culture for the average Latino-American. The shift from English to Spanish and back again is seamless and makes sense, tying into the character’s emotions (I’m a Lopez. I should know). But if you don’t speak Spanish, don’t worry – you’ll be able pick up a sense of what was said from the context of the character’s actions.

Ylse ended its first season run with six webisodes under its belt and landed a distribution deal with Latin Heat , a Latino focused Web portal, in September. If you’re looking for more, Hispanic Trending teased in November, “I’ve heard through the grapevine that they are already working on the scripts for season 2.”

Check it out at

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