The biggest difference I have seen from American television, is that there are not (usually) hundreds of channels that end up being unused. The most popular channels in Spain are Telecinco, La 1, Antena 3, Cuatro, and La Sexta. My boyfriend would always tell me that channels one through six are the most important, and at his house you can always guarantee that when you turn on the TV one of those channels will be on.
As for the programs themselves, most of the young Spanish people I know watch mainly American scripted series: House, Family Guy, Bones, Simpsons, How I Met Your Mother, Game of Thrones, etc. Spain does have many great drama and comedy series but I personally have not found a Spanish comedy show that I'm a huge fan of (yet). The Spanish shows the majority of my friends do watch are usually game shows, travel series, news programs, and dramas.
|Pulseras Rojas, source|
Atrapa un Millón is my favorite of these three game shows. The contestants work together to get through the different levels and each level they must choose between two categories. Before they know the question they will be asked (it somehow relates to the category, but not always how you would think) they are given multiple answers. Once the questions is given they must place their money on which answer they think is right (it's possible to split among several answers). If it's wrong they lose their money on the wrong answer, but if right they keep it and move up the levels. It may sound confusing but watch for yourself, but it's a great show!
|Atrapa un millón, source|
|Ahora Caigo, source|
Another game show I enjoy is Ahora Caigo. It's a fun show to watch as contestants that answer incorrectly are literally dropped from the trapdoor where they are standing! The main contestant stands in the middle while the rest circle him/her. The center contestant then chooses one of the others to compete against. They go back and forth having to answer a question correctly in a certain time period. The main contestant has three 'lives' but if any of the other contestants gets the answer wrong, they are dropped through the trapdoor and the center contestant gets the money that dropped contestant had.
|Gran Hotel, source|
Guilty Pleasure:Where the previously mentioned shows generally have intelligent conversation, correct Spanish, and can offer some kind of educational benefit, my favorite guilty pleasure to watch is the Spanish dating show Mujeres y Hombres y Viceversa. My friends judge me all the time for watching this 'trashy' tv, but I can't help it; it makes me laugh! In this dating show there are two sessions, one where there are two male tronistas and the other where there two females. Tronistas are the protagonists of the show, the people 'looking for love' from their pretendientes (or contestants who enter to try and date them). It's full of drama, scandal, and often out-right ridiculous contestants. Mujeres y Hombres y Viceversa may not be award-winning television, but it sure is entertaining.
[Update 11/2013] New Shows that I've fallen in love with since living in Spain have been that you all should check out:
- Tu Cara Me Suena
- Natural Frank
- La Voz
- Vive Cantando