Sunday TV marathon

February 2, 2010

A huge percentage of the Brazilian population spends Sundays in front of the TV (at least 60% watch the evening programs). So, Sunday shows are extremely important in terms of ad sales and the war to gain audience can be ferocious.

Three TV hosts are essential to understand what Brazilians see, learn and feel on their free time.

First the delirious, surreal Chacrinha. Abelardo Barbosa (his real name) was a huge success between the fifties and the eighties, till his death, in 1988. He will be remembered for a long time, thanks to a mix of his glittery outfits, catch phrases repeated over and over, double entendre songs,  pineapples and codfish thrown to the audience and close ups of girls with large bottoms, shinny beachwear and white boots – the chacretes. Named as porn stars – Rita Cadillac, Fernanda Terremoto (Earthquake), Lia Hollywood -, they were huge sex symbols.  Also known as Velho Guerreiro (Old Warrior) – thanks to Gilberto Gil, that payed homage to Chacrinha in his song Aquele Abraço -, he brought to the telly the spirit of the counterculture and the unconventional seventies. Lots of fun, anarchy and nonsense.

Then, Silvio Santos, the billionaire communicator that began his career as a street vendor in Rio. Today he owns SBT, one of the main TV networks of the country. He is capable of selling absolutely anything to anybody – I can testify. I attended one of his programs, Topa Tudo por Dinheiro (Money is worth anything, in a very free translation)  in the mid-nineties. His domain over the audience – that was invited to do demeaning things to earn some extra cash – is almost supernatural (in this video, a guy offers to eat a blade, a battery and a whole egg). Silvio’s trademark is a huge smile and the ability to talk to his all-female audience as if he was an old family friend. He also tends to praise enthusiastically whoever governs the country (he is an apple polisher to the left and the right, no distinctions).  His shows have been aired non-stop since the early sixties and used to be extremely long – he could be on the stage for 12 hours at a time when he was younger.

Finally, Fausto Silva, that leads the Sunday show aired by TV Globo, the main Brazilian communications network, since the late 80s. Known as Faustão, due to his huge dimensions, he developed a style that includes half naked dancers, insults towards the audience and his cameramen, lots of candy camera shots and live bands. He probably shouldn’t be here, in the company of two of the main communicators that ever landed Brazilian TV. But, if you visit somebody in Brazil next Sunday, there is a good chance the TV will be on – most likely, tuned on Faustão.

So, next Sunday, where are we meeting to watch the afternoon show? My house or yours?



  1. No matter how bad Fausto is, he is addictive ,if only because he is so bad. I have lived in Brasil for three years and I am still amazed that someone so talentless,amaturish and banal can command such viewing figures .His shows are a mismash of ideas from everyone elses shows. It is like watching something from the early seventies, it is only the clothes ( who dresses him? something that hides his huge stomach would be more flattering!)that let you know it is 2010. His guests are either cheap or something to do with a globo novella.Has he never heard of an auto cue? he uses peices of paper that look like supermarket reciepts or bus tickets to prompt himself and he constantly speaks when his ‘ guests’ are talking or singing.
    I keep making oomparrisons with his shows and the old variety shows of the UK in the early seventies…dancing girls, bad magicians and not funny comedians..I though this kind of show was thankfully long dead and buried…but, it is alive and healthy on Globo on sundays. If you have lost the will to live and the drugs are not working I can recomend this show to put you into a long long coma. Thankfully the football is back and the show is cut by almost two hours to make way for the sport.
    I noticed that you did not comment on the brain numbing programme that follows his..Fantastico..another widely watched and loved programme…but often used as just an advertising trailer for the globo novelas.
    I guess that Globo thinks that anyone with more than basic education or at least half a brain has Sky..or has better things to do.
    You have to respect Silvio if only for his great age…most people have known him longer than members of their immediate family. I often wonder if that microphone has been surgicaly inserted into his neck, it must be amazingly uncomfortable.

    • Jeremy, I think Fantástico deserves its own post, because its format is totally different from the ones I mentioned. While I agree it is full of Globo self-references and has some pretty low moments, it also has some good journalistic in-depth investigations (namely those by Caco Barcellos, one of the best Brazilian reporters and a guy with lots of social conscience) and produced some great musical moments.
      About Faustão, I think it must be said that when he first appeared on TV, some 25 years ago, in another channel, in a program called Perdidos na Noite, his show had a certain freshness, lots of improvisation and great new bands. At the time I was studying Journalism at Universidade de São Paulo and several of my colleagues used to attend it. But Globo somehow corrupted his anarchic spirit and injected money to make it more mainstream. A pity.
      Finally, I think both Chacrinha and Sílvio Santos have this same mind-numbing effect you describe, but I can see in Chacrinha an endearing childish spirit, and SS has such a personal magnetism that I find tough to despise. He is similar to multi-zillionnaire esoteric writer Paulo Coelho – doesn’t appeal to me, but I can see why he seduces so many.

  2. Dear Regina,

    I think next week we should be ditching the TV and going for some good coffee and visiting with our favorite friends.
    It is amazing the way Globo TV manipulates Brazilians and have for many decades…not to mention they were instrumental in the “Politica do Pao e Circo”…
    Amazing the power GLOGO still has on Brazilians. I also think their quality of programming has decreased drastically in the last decade or so.

    Warm regards


  3. loved this post by the way!

  4. Chacrinha was fun ! But I could never ever understand why somebody would watch to Faustao. All these years on TV Globo and still doens’t know how to put two words of English together when he receives international singers. He is just so… argh !

  5. Where’s Ratinho?!?!

    • Frankly, John, my super ego blocked my subconscious on that one. No wonder the guy’s nickname is little rat.

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