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Television fiction is often understood as a cultural product whose aim is entertainment and escapism. However, its functions are not merely commercial. In fact, this article aims to improve understanding of the socializing and educational effects of television’s fictional messages. It also reflects on the active role of the audience in the process of reception, and on its capacity to define and interpret messages according to the viewer’s personal and social characteristics. This work examines the informational usefulness and significance for personal identity of a specific television genre, the telenovela, a fictional product which, despite focusing its narrative on romantic events and personal conflicts, can also provide the viewer with explanations and interpretations of society’s past and present. In particular, this analysis of the melodramatic format sets out to establish the meanings and representations in «Amar en tiempos revueltos» («Loving in Troubled Times») for its female viewers. Based on the analysis of in-depth interviews, the article will explore the female audience’s reception processes through variables such as age and education. This study concludes that the majority of female viewers use fiction in an explanatory sense, and that the telenovela is a genre in which women identify themselves individually and as a group.