HBO series “Filhos do Carnaval”: a rare moment in Brazil’s blond television programming

HBO series "Filhos do Carnaval"
HBO series “Filhos do Carnaval”

Note from BW of Brazil: I open this post simply to introduce the HBO series of which only a few episodes I was able to catch. The few episodes I saw were impressive and offer a contrast to the new Globo TV series Sexo e as negas as well as an alternative approach to the Brazilian media’s Eurocentric viewpoint. This is how the series Filhos do Carnaval is described in Wikipedia:

Filhos do Carnival is a Brazilian drama series aired by the HBO cable TV channel originally airing in 2006. Created by Cao Hamburger and Elena Soarez, it featured the writing of Soarezz, Hamburger and Anna Muylaert, and direction of Cao Hamburger, César Rodrigues, Flávio Tambelini and Luciano Moura, with the general direction of Cao Hamburger. The plot depicts the daily life of local Rio bookies and how they use Carnival to launder money.” 

After reading Jeferson Sousa’s review, I’m actually thinking of buying the DVD to see the whole series. I’m hoping it fills a void on the small screen in its depiction of black characters after the controversial Sexo e as negas and 2012’s disappointing Subúrbia. Looking back, even though the Cidade dos Homens (City of Men) (Globo TV 2002-2005) series had a few problems, I sincerely enjoyed the stories and full character developments of the show’s protagonist. Although based in the favela, the series didn’t depend so heavily on stereotypes to keep its audience and thus allowed the characters to represent full people; people with a full range of emotions that made the show intriguing. The show also had sex and violence, but the program allowed its characters to be regular people, filling in the flaws of the movie of which it was a spin-off: the 2002 blockbuster Cidade de Deus (City of God). 

Maybe Miguel Falabella, the creator of the Sexo e as negas series, could learn a few things from these series on how to develop better stories and black characters as the series progresses. There could still be hope!

Blonde TV in a mestiço (mixed race) country

By Jeferson de Sousa

Scene from HBO series "Filhos do Carnaval"
Scene from HBO series “Filhos do Carnaval”

The episode involving goalkeeper Aranha and fans of the Grêmio futebol team of Porto Alegre persists in surviving (which, on the one hand, is good) and raises other considerations involving the theme. So shall we talk about racism on Brazilian TV? A thorny issue, yes, but the time is ripe.

We start with the national fiction. There was, and up until this moment, yet there is no six, seven, eight, nine or eleven o’clock miniseries, sitcom or TV series that depicts black reality exactly as it is. Except for the series Filhos de Carnaval (Children of Carnival), in which the subject was treated in a convincing manner.

Actors and actresses from "Filhos do Carnaval"
Actors and actresses from “Filhos do Carnaval”

I don’t mean having black doctors, lawyers and politicians. It could even be normal people, vendor, telemarketing and bar waiter types. To give the exact tone of realism it would sufficient that the black character in question was randomly stopped by a police command and go through incomprehensible and unnecessary humiliation. This, indeed, would give it a quite Brazilian color to our fiction.

It’s clear that, for an author who can only move between Ipanema and Leblon (affluent Rio de Janeiro neighborhoods) or frequents only the upper circles of São Paulo, it’s hard to imagine the picture above. And so we follow with happy blacks in suburban centers and, one time or another, as displaced heroes.

The fact is that the author of the novela would not even need to leave his world. It’s enough to be inspired by a black supporting actor, who does not show up for a recording because he was arrested mistakenly, as a suspected assailant. It is possible that the author has heard the story of some director or actor.


And advertising on TV? Have you noticed that advertising only has blacks when it comes to something connected to the government? Look tat it.

Let’s suppose that an alien wants to spend their holidays in Brazil and only has information from the commercials on TV. What kind of Brazil will they see it? A white Brazil, even blonde, with light-colored eyes, flowing hair and a radiant smile.

The idea that advertising tries to sell is that of a Brazil with a face of the “first world”. The irony is that you recognize the North American and European commercials by the blacks that are in them. This thing of commercials with only whites is a thing of an ashamed third world.

But what demands are there for our advertisers to do something different? Most of them inhabit a world very similar to the author’s fiction above. The blacks that they know are the watchman of the building where they work or the maid cleaning their apartments (1). Sometimes not even that.

Many states have created specific laws of quotas for blacks in advertising and the Estatuto da Igualdade Racial (Lei 12288/10 or Racial Equality Statute – Law 12288/10) and even talk about employment opportunities for black actors, extras and coaches – it’s in Article 44. Hence, what one see are some blacks – often times almost white – filled with a lot of ill will in the publicity pieces.

Discussing quotas is something very complex. There are a multitude of pro and con arguments. But this column is not about racial, social or historical ills, but about television.

The problem is that there’s no way to watch TV without encountering such ailments all the time.

Source: Yahoo TV


1. A situation that applies directly to Miguel Falabella, creator of the controversial new Globo TV series Sexo e as negas. The writer admits that his maid was one of the inspirations for the show.

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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