In the end, the only thing that matters is this: 13.5 million viewers. That is the number of people who watched Rob Schneider's "¡ROB" pilot on CBS last night.
The show had suffered a barrage of critical reviews, including a scathing one by Time Magazine, but managed to gather a "shockingly" strong showing (says EW). Why the appeal? We offer the reasons for its ratings success:
When You Have Bad Reviews, Contact MALDEF
It's probably good to have friends in good positions (it's called networking, loyalty and smart politics), and last night's MALDEF e-mail blast did just that with an opening statement of its President:
“Latino-themed television series on English-language networks remain an extreme rarity even as the Latino population has grown to encompass one in six Americans. Tonight, CBS premieres a new Latino-themed comedy with a large Latino cast.” – Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel, MALDEF
In the end to us, it was kind of well, awkward, to get an email from Saenz urging people to support Latino-theme comedy. Have we truly become Latino sheep that just don't question anything?
Following Saenz's logic, where was the email to support "Work It" (or better yet, the email to demand an apology from ABC), "Ugly Betty" (canceled), "Mind of Mencía" (sucked), and "Greetings from Tucson" (really sucked). Those were all Latino-themed shows, too. The fact remains: MALDEF supported the show because the show has strong connections to MALDEF. That's cool. Very well played.
Get a Latina Icon to Tweet Out Support for One Her Actor Friends
Now we believe Dolores Huerta has done amazing and incredible work all her life, and we had the pleasure of meeting her (heck, we even list her as a true Latina Rebel on our FB site). And she was tweeting for a friend, which is fine. But we find it a bit hard to believe that Huerta was belly laughing, especially in the scene where Rob's character was accidentally humping his wife's abuelita (played by Lupe Ontiveros)
Have Just Very Amazing Positive Comments Show Up on Your Facebok Wall
Damn the critics. Let the people talk!
Run a Piñata Campaign on Facebook
Do we even have to explain that one? Wondering if Saenz, MALDEF, and Saenz saw that marketing campaign for the show? WHACK AND WIN!!!!!!
Put the Clueless Gringo in the Middle of a Long Conga Line!
Because Latinos are whacky and love to dance! And other Americans love when Latinos dance because other Americans can't dance as well as Latinos!
In the meantime, we are HOPING that ¡Rob! succeeds, but it won't if the following doesn't happen:
- Hire 2-3 Latino writers who actually know the issues that the show wants to explore.
- Give the lead to Cheech Marin. THAT is the show. A Latino Archie Bunker! Imagine how cool it would be to have an second-generation middle-aged Latino character who sees his world changing. Who sees people from other Latin American countries arrive (watch out Mexico, here comes Central America) and now HE is the man with the money. HE is the job creator who forgets his own roots. Dialogues would open up! Comedy opens eyes! World views would change!
- No more guacamole jokes, no more tequila jokes, no more dead guy candle jokes, no more Julio Iglesias jokes, and we get that Selena is popular in Latino culture. Dig into the jokes a little deeper. Actually ask people who have lived in that situation. Hence, go back to bullet 1. Hire 2-3 Latinos writers.
- If you don't give the lead role to Cheech, give it to Eugenio Derbez. Have a magic ICE genie get rid of his accent and just make him a normal person who happens to be undocumented. Do you really have to have him speak like that? Does he have to be so shifty? Don't you connect the dots, adoring Facebook audience of positive comments?
- Have the family take Rob to the cliffs of the Pacific Ocean. Throw him off the cliff. Family celebrates with a conga line. Cheech gets his own show.
- Be funny. Like a commenter said to us on our page (and yes, CBS, people on Facebook and Twitter have other opinions that don't appear on your one-way public relations fan page): "Very sad there was no laughs, no menudo. Cheech my man wth? Call me, my dog could write a better script for you."
We could get into more details about the show, but instead we will let our friends at Tu Vez speak:
But what ¡Rob! lacks in humor, it more than makes up in lazy (like a Mexican!) stereotypes. In fact, out of the 24 possible stereotypes we used to make our bingo card, the sitcom hit sixteen of them. Then again, what do you expect from a television show whose staff, excluding the majority of the cast and the hair stylist (not kidding), lacks any real diversity?
And it’s precisely this lack of people of color behind the camera (and in the writing room) that makes ¡Rob! so offensive. Even if the creators were making a concerted effort to portray Latinos in a positive light (highly doubtful), they’d still stumble into the same pitfalls over and over. Take Fernando, the patriarch of the Mexican family played by Cheech Marin. Fernando is a successful businessman. This is a good thing for sure. But how did he make his money? By working his ass off at a car wash, which he later bought (along with five others).
In ¡Rob!‘s world, affluent Latinos are not out of the realm of possibility, so long as they do it through hard physical labor and beat the odds to reach said wealth. Fernando and his family are closer to The Jeffersons than to the Huxtables. God forbid White America deal with the fact that more and more of us are educated and earn money with our brains instead of with our hands and backs.
In the meantime, let the mainstream decide what they want to watch. Networks will only go for the ratings, stereotypes be damned. We will stick to our Netflix and Independent shows that would kick ¡Rob's! ass in a sitcom street fight.
MALDEF and others can speak about progression for Latinos and once in a while lose their focus due to a misguided desire to "make it in America." (PS, they still will pull us over in Arizona for driving brown, even if we support mainstream TV shows). Shows like ¡Rob! are all about regression and the 4H's of Hispanic Hollywood that actor Esai Morales so eloquently describes in the following video.
13.5 million viewers? Wait, where have we heard that number before?