La Rosa de Guadalupe is a Mexican TV program

And so, once again, the day is saved, thanks to the Virgen de Guadalupe! Values Sensitive Design Analysis of La Rosa de Guadalupe

14 minutes to read
Frida Sofia Mendoza de la Luz

Mexican soap operas have emerged as a popular form of televised entertainment, captivating audiences with intricate storylines exploring complex themes such as love, deception, family ties, and societal issues. While some may argue that these shows are over-the-top, their exaggerated portrayal of real-life problems makes them captivating. However, since this TV program is displayed in the Mexican public TV system and episodes can be easily found online, stakeholders have become more reluctant to allow children to consume this content. In contrast, others debate the show's didactic use to help children understand and discuss everyday situations. 

What is La Rosa de Guadalupe?

One of the most known drama series in Mexico’s public TV is La Rosa de Guadalupe, created by Carlos Eduardo Mercado Orduña and Miguel Ángel Herros. First released in 2008, it consists of 15 seasons up to this date, with around 80-160 chapters per season. La Rosa de Guadalupe is broadcasted by Televisa’s channel Canal de las Estrellas in Mexico but has expanded its distribution among different Latin American countries and the United States, the latter due to the Latino community living there. This show is popularly conceptualized as a telenovela, a term used to describe Latin American soap operas or dramas. However, some debate explains that this show is not a telenovela but an anthology because the chapters do not follow a continuation, nor are the characters the same, even though the same actors are used for different roles (Smith, 2019). The show’s main topics have constantly been keeping up with Mexico’s context; in general, the show deals with narrations about addictions of different kinds (drugs, alcohol, video games, social media), interpersonal relationships, and family issues. 

Our Lady of Guadalupe is an important religious figure in Mexican catholic tradition. She is the patroness of indigenous people from Mexico and the Continental Americas.

The show is based on the premises of the Catholic religion, taking the Virgin of Guadalupe as a figure that helps people solve their problems. The Virgin of Guadalupe is very important for the Mexican community since it comes from the story found in the Nahua text Nican Mopohua in the 17th century, allegedly written by Antonio Valeriano. In this story written in Nahuatl and Latin, the Virgin of Guadalupe reveals herself in apparitions to Juan Diego, a Chichimec indigenous, and creates the idea of the Virgin as the protector of the indigenous people, also because she is portrayed in the mantle she gave to Juan Diego with brown skin color, just like the indigenous people. Therefore, after constructing the temple of Our Sacred Lady in central Mexico, the devotion of the Mexican community to the Virgin Mary became a religious identity construct that shaped the population’s life. According to data provided by INEGI (2020), in 2020, around 90 million people in Mexico identified themselves as Catholics, and these figures continue to rise as the population increases. Because of this, the show uses the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe as its central image.

Values Sensitive Design Approach

This article analyzes the Mexican show La Rosa de Guadalupe utilizing a Values Sensitive Design Approach as exposed by Friedman, Kahn Jr., and Borning (2008). This approach entails the incorporation of a vast array of human values and moral goals in the development and design of technology intending to identify and/or address the impact it has on the stakeholders (target audience or those mainly affected by the technological product). Despite its original application to technological products like video games, apps, and gadgets, this theory has been adopted in this paper to examine how this particular show incorporates specific values and the potential ethical ramifications thereof. It is imperative for media and technology designed for children and young adults to carefully consider their impact on the audience and take responsibility for any resulting consequences. Hence, employing a Values Design approach could prove beneficial in scrutinizing various products beyond the realm of technology.

The values used as hypotheses to examine the particular case of this show are education and credibility, the first one due to the didactic nature of the TV show while the second one addresses the capacity of the show to represent their characters and how this representation might affect the credibility. I will delve into media literacy education given in the show, mainly directed to young adults, on issues related to the use of computers, mobile phones, and social networks, and how parents take these views. The show also tries to portray stories that young people can identify with through the construction of characters, vocabulary, and everyday situations. 

The value education can be roughly understood as “the deliberate, systematic, and sustained effort to transmit, provoke or acquire knowledge, values, attitudes, skills or sensibilities as well as any learning that results from the effort” (Cremin, 1976). La Rosa de Guadalupe is not considered a central means to educate young adults per se. Still, as it will be explained, it does so by exposing problems, exemplifying them through stories, and concluding with a moral. 

Credibility will be seen as “the believability of a source or message, which comprises two primary dimensions: trustworthiness and expertise.” (Flanagin and Metzger, 2008). The show, employing stories that relate to the daily life of Mexican people, tries to establish the credibility of the receiver. In contrast, the receiver is the one who decides whether or not to believe in this representation. Because the series has more than 1800 episodes broadcast to date, the scope of this paper will use examples from one episode. “Nomofobia: adicción al celular” (Nomophobia: phone addiction). More studies are needed to analyze this phenomenon in detail.

Is this an appropriate show for children and Young Adults?

According to the IMDB portal (2023), the age rating of La Rosa de Guadalupe ranges from A (for all audiences) to B-15 (for those over 15) following the content of the episodes; in the United States, it is suitable for those over 14. Tags selected by the users of this portal on the sensitive themes of the show include alcohol, drugs and smoking, nudity, violence, gore, profanity, and frightening and intense scenes. However, this classification was not included in the official webpage of La Rosa de Guadalupe. The broadcasting schedule has changed throughout the different seasons, but generally, it has been broadcast from Monday to Friday between 4 pm and 7 pm, at a family-friendly time.

Considering the above information, the direct stakeholders identified are Mexican families. However, the content of many of its episodes suggests themes of interest to young adults. In many of its episodes, the main characters are teenagers in school environments who face conflicts and find solutions through the help of the cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe. However, other episodes deal with issues that concern an adult audience, such as work, relationships, and marriage problems, so the direct target audience varies depending on the episode. Because the episodes are broadcast on public television, it is only sometimes possible to know what the episode will be about. Other episodes deal with problems children face in school environments, such as bullying, social networking, sexual orientation, and even rape, therefore the target audience is the family in general.

The purpose of La Rosa de Guadalupe is to serve as a guide for parents to know how to act so that parents "are more careful with their children."

Indirect audiences are children, as the program seems to infer that children watch the show alongside their families. Moreover, the episodes can be found on social networks such as TikTok, Youtube, the official La Rosa de Guadalupe website, and Blim, the streaming platform owned by TelevisaUnivision. A newspaper article published in 2018 by El Financiero shows how children between 4 to 12 years old are the most significant viewers of this show, which created concerns regarding the safety of children being exposed to mature audience themes and started a discussion regarding the Mexican government's failed policies on the classification of public television content. The experts' response to this was the need for training of parents as the ones responsible for monitoring what children consume. Such a response becomes contradictory if we assume the series contemplates a certain didacticism regarding digital literacy (Castañares, 2018).

Finally, regarding the non-targeted use of this piece of media, and in association with its popularity among children and teenagers, la Rosa de Guadalupe has gained popularity over the internet through memes, YouTube channels, parodies, and even WhatsApp stickers. This last phenomenon is typically created as a response to the lack of credibility the young population has of the show by mocking the vocabulary and accent used by the actors, the dramatic scenes, and the music.

To begin the analysis, I decided to undertake a search for this program through its official social media accounts and website. In the description of their Facebook page, they state:

Figure 1. La Rosa de Guadalupe is a shortened telenovela narrated intensely in just an hour; it is a program to entertain families that allows us to share happy moments full of joy, hope, and combat. We all have a story of combat and hope. Tell us yours!

Their YouTube and Instagram accounts describe their product as follows: “In this Channel, we show you the best scenes of each chapter, alongside reflections that help us understand each message La Rosa de Guadalupe introduces us in our everyday lives” (@LaRosaDeGuadalupeOf, 2023). In a 2020 interview with the show's intellectual creator Miguel Ángel Herros on the Tlnovelas YouTube channel, it is explained that the purpose of La Rosa de Guadalupe is to serve as a guide for parents to know how to act so that parents "are more careful with their children." While the figure of the Virgin of Guadalupe stands out in the program, the creator says that the show does not try to be religious but respects the image of the Virgin as the mother of Mexicans and the Latin community in general.

Value 1: Education

From this, the first value used to understand the program's situation is education, which can be seen from different perspectives. The creator expressed that the program tries to help parents and serve as a guide; given the success of the series, the ideas and lessons given by the show have been widespread in society. For instance, the chapter “Nomofobia: adicción al celular” portrays a preteen wanting a cellphone to help her with homework; however, once she gets it, she starts using it at all times, negatively affecting her social life, her family relationships, and her school performance. When she is prevented from using her mobile phone, her withdrawal symptoms begin, and she is diagnosed with nomophobia or mobile phone addiction. One day her mother gets upset and throws her mobile phone out of the window, which makes her jump out of the window after it. The mother prays to the virgin who saves the girl's life. According to Altamirano (2012), the structure of the chapters of the La Rosa de Guadalupe is similar to a biblical parable, in which mundane situations are narrated in a binary universe (good-evil), with a surprise ending and a conclusion interpreted by a narrator. Thus, the episode ends with a moral given by the character representing the girl's mother: teenagers should make responsible use of tablets, mobile phones, and computers which, although they make people's lives easier, also isolate us and supplant real interaction with people.

Education in this chapter focuses on the better use of technology by teenagers. The perspective from which it is taught is from a deterministic point of view when it is thought that technology is an external agent that can make life easier on the one hand, but on the other, it harms our relationships with others (Baym, 2010: 35); therefore, we should learn how to manage technology. The series assumes that this is a common problem that parents have with their teenagers and thus gives them examples of the risks of not doing something about it; at the same time,  the show assumes that teenagers will watch this episode, so it shows them the consequences of not obeying their parents and teachers, as well as it reinforces the idea of mobile phones as a powerful and addictive tool that can affect their lives if misused.

The show might reinforce deterministic beliefs about technology: phones can shape children's behavior, mostly in a negative way.

One of the value tensions (term used in this paper to describe the situation in which a value is promoted at the expense of another) in the exemplification of this problem, not only particular to this episode, is the use of intense and dramatic scenes: the young girl jumping out of the window after her mobile phone because of her addiction. Mexican soap operas such as La Rosa de Guadalupe are characterized by melodramatic stories and mostly emotional characters (Medina and Barrón, 2010). By mixing dramatization with teaching about media literacy issues, the message can intensify the audience's fears: parents and teachers have seen an example of how teenagers can get physically hurt by using their mobile phones. Conversely, the children and young people see actions they might not have taken themselves (putting their lives at risk for a mobile phone). Therefore, it is essential to question how the value of education in this show can potentially establish deterministic beliefs: does the portrayal of the catastrophic effects of technology help parents and children have a healthier relationship with their children’s phone usage? Or will this depiction worsen the idea of phones impacting and reshaping society? La Rosa de Guadalupe explicitly relies on the parent’s responsibility to educate their children, but to what extent can parents control the content their children see or even what agency do children have? 

Based on the evidence of this particular episode, children are portrayed as vulnerable victims, which leads to moral panics as explained by Adorjan and Ricciardelli (2019) in which the intention (to help parents understand the importance and the risks of technology) might be interpreted differently due to the catastrophizing of the consequences (paranoia and fear of children using cellphones).


Value 2: Credibility

La Rosa de Guadalupe is broadcast in 23 Latin American countries and the United States and is the most watched content in all of Latin America, being awarded the prize for the Most In Demand Export From Latin America by the Global TV Demand Awards (Infobae, 2021). This enormous spread has been a topic of debate regarding credibility: for example, a chapter that tried to mimic a Colombian accent generated criticism in that country and even resulted in a murder threat against the actress for not performing well in the Colombian accent (Semana, 2022).

Similarly, as a series watched by thousands of people, La Rosa de Guadalupe has helped establish and perpetuate stereotypes of Mexican society concerning identity representation (accent, physical appearance, social issues, behaviors). Therefore, audiences in other countries may believe that only one Mexican identity exists. At the same time, the representation is primarily white and upper-middle-class, except for those who represent lower-income people, such as servants, nannies, and laborers. This phenomenon is not new but is a commonly used representation in Mexican media due to problems of colorism and classism, as explained by (Tipa, 2021) in which the whiter you are the more opportunities you can have in Mexican society.  The general audience might differ from this portrayal, specifically children and teenagers whose contexts are not represented in the show. According to Coneval (IMCO, 2021), 43.9% of the Mexican population lives in poverty, which may decrease the audience's credibility in the series, as the series portrays contexts (houses, neighborhoods, schools, clothes, jobs), problems (being allowed to use a phone vs. being able to afford one), and even linguistic codes (the way children and teenagers express themselves, phrases, accents) that possibly differ from those experienced or practiced by the audience from a lower socioeconomic status.

La Rosa de Guadalupe has been broadcasting new episodes weekly since 2008, in which topics are constantly renewed according to the current issues that take place in Mexico and Latin America. The dynamism of this media and its nature as an anthology with no connection between each episode allows this show to adapt and renew, which could mean that the show will continue broadcasting for longer.


In conclusion, the two values considered in this analysis as hypotheses have shown that re-designing this media material may be needed. In the case of education, first, it is crucial to delve into the evolving nature of media and how digital literacy should also adapt and point towards digital agency without necessarily using a deterministic approach that might reinforce fear and misunderstanding of new technologies. Secondly, the show’s spreadability over the internet makes it easier for audiences of all ages to engage with this content; this show should pay more attention to the power it has not only in Mexico but in Latin America as an indirect educational guide for parents and rethink their contents not only as an entertainment form of media but as a medium that can reshape children and teenagers life’s choices. The second value, credibility, has revealed deeper problems of colorism and classism, which might lead to issues of representation. The lack of credibility of this show has led viewers to consider it absurd and comical on social media, giving ideas to creators for memes, funny videos, and parodies.


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