Role: Rosalinda del Castillo Romero de Altamirano/Paloma Dorantes
Plot: Thalía plays Rosalinda, a poor but very beautiful 20-year-old flower seller who dreams of becoming a singer. Instead she marries Fernando José, a talented piano player who comes from a rich and powerful family.
But all is not well in Rosalinda’s world: Her evil and jealous stepmother-in-law Valeria plots against her and reveals to Fernando José that Rosalinda’s mother had, 20 years earlier, killed his father (though Rosalinda’s mother was falsely accused of the crime).
Upset over the revelation, Fernando José walks out on a pregnant Rosalinda, who, shortly after, prematurely delivers their daughter Erika, whom Valeria then kidnaps.
Distraught over losing both her husband and baby, Rosalinda begins to lose her mind and is placed by Valeria in a mental hospital. But soon after her arrival, the mental hospital catches fire. While Rosalinda is able to escape, she is badly hurt and begins to suffer from amnesia.
Because of her amnesia, Rosalinda is unable to reach out to her family and let them know she survived the fire — which they assumed she perished in. Lost and without an identity, she is taken in by a creepy old man who turns her into thief.
While breaking into a house she meets its owner, Alex Dorantes. He’s a music manager who takes her in and gives her the new identity of Paloma Dorantes, also helping transform her into a famous singer (dreams coming true!). The two soon fall in love.
On a date night Rosalinda/Paloma and Alex, unknowingly, go watch Fernando José play piano. Upon hearing him play the piano Rosalinda/Paloma is overwhelmed by her past memories; she runs out of the theater and is hit by car.
While in the hospital, Rosalinda realizes who she really is. Luckily, she is able to continue her career with her new identity and eventually, after even more drama (like discovering that Alex was actually kind of a bad guy, finding out Fernando José had married her cousin, and when she almost married a creepy fan), she reunites with her daughter and remarries Fernando José.
Campy telenovela rating: 9.5 out of 10.
Craziest plot line: EVERYTHING. There is NOTHING in the entire shows plot line that is even remotely possible.
Plot: Beatriz (Thalía) and Maricruz (Adela Noriega) are two best friends and classmates looking forward to their upcoming quinceañera parties and the fact that they are finally becoming women.
Campy telenovela level: 2 out of 10.
Craziest plot line: Quinceañera was actually a pretty series telenovela that was geared toward teenagers and dealt with some pretty heavy issues like drugs, date rape, and teen pregnancy.
But the show does have borderline creepy opening credits, which feature the show’s two teenage stars erotically bathing and dressing (separately).
3. María Mercedes
Role: María Mercedes Muñoz
Plot: Thalía plays María Mercedes, a poor but very beautiful young woman who is forced to be a street performer in order to support her alcoholic father and her younger brothers and sisters after they’re abandoned by their mother.
While working one day, María is spotted by Santiago del Olmo, a wealthy man who is dying. He convinces María to marry him in order for him to get revenge on his aunt Malvina (who is after his money).
After his death, María inherits his fortune and becomes head of the family. She soon falls in love with Malvina’s son Jorge Luis, who at first only pursues María as a plot (put together by his mother) to get his hands on the money.
Eventually (after lots of drama) true love prevails! Jorge Luis falls deeply in love with María and the two get married.
Campy telenovela level: 5 out 10.
Craziest plot line: Malvina (side note: that is a hot name for a villain), along with the help of the butler, are able to lock María up in a mental hospital.
María Mercedes intro:
Role: Marimar Perez
Plot: Marimar (Thalía) is a very poor but very beautiful young woman who lives with her grandparents in their hut on the beach — although they look more like they’re shipwrecked than peasants who live on the beach. She meets and falls in love with Sergio, the son of a local wealthy farmer. The two marry, but Sergio’s evil stepmother Angélica disapproves of their marriage because Marimar comes from a lower class.
Angélica sets out to destroy Marimar, first by having her falsely imprisoned (after she accuses Marimar of stealing her jewelry), then by having the servants set fire to her grandparent’s beach hut (causing them to die), and then by forging a divorce letter in Sergio’s name.
Upon her release from prison, Marimar sets out to seek revenge on Angélica by assuming a new identity of “Bella Aldama” and buying out Sergio’s family farm.
Eventually she reveals who she really is to Sergio, and the two reunite while Angélica dies in a car crash.
Campy telenovela level: 8 out of 10
Craziest plot line: Angélica’s motivation to destroy Marimar seems pretty weak and she does some crazy shit to her (I mean, she kills her grandparents!). Also, Marimar’s ability to take on a new identity with no one realizing who she is seems pretty ridiculous, even by telenovela standards.
1. María la del Barrio
Role: María Hernández
Plot: Thalía plays María, a poor — but very beautiful — 15-year-old orphaned garbage picker who moves into a mansion of Fernando de la Vega, the richest man in Mexico, where she becomes a maid.
Shortly after arriving, she falls in love with his son Luis Fernando, whom she eventually marries.
While this telenovela was not the craziest or most over the top; it was the most successful of Thalía careers and it remains her most iconic role. It was watched in more than 180 countries.
Campy telenovela level: 4 out of 10.
Craziest plot line: Not a plot line, but the fact that Thalía, then 24, was playing a 15-year-old.