Ratings for “ROB” Strong in Second Week: Stereotypes Will Always Find an Audience

Rob, the CBS comedy that was promoted by MALDEF for its Latino actors, earned the network a solid Thursday night and made it the best-rated show since SURVIVOR in its time slot.

As reported by TV.Broadway.com:

 

On Thursday, CBS was first in households (8.7/13), viewers (14.45m), adults 25-54 (4.8/11) and adults 18-49 (3.5/09). CBS posted its best Thursday delivery this season in both households and viewers and its best Thursday ratings in both adults 25-54 and adults 18-49 since Sept. 22, 2011 (premiere week Thursday).

THE BIG BANG THEORY was first in households (9.5/15), viewers (16.13m), adults 25-54 (7.0/17), adults 18-49 (5.3/15) and adults 18-34 (3.8/12). THE BIG BANG THEORY posted its best delivery in households since Nov. 10, 2011, in both viewers and adults 25-54 since Monday, March 8, 2010, in both adults 18-49 and adults 18-34 since Nov. 17, 2011.

ROB (P) was first in households (7.8/12), viewers (13.47m), adults 25-54 (5.4/13) and adults 18-49 (4.1/11). ROB posted the time period's best delivery with a regularly scheduled program since May 13, 2010 (SURVIVOR: HEROES VS. VILLAINS) in households, viewers, adults 25-54 and adults 18-49

 

The ratings success for ROB is seen many in Latino media as a testament to community support from MALDEF and viewers as proof that the show's initial negative reviews did nothing to stem the tide of the show's popularity. Although in a recent column on Univision News, Ed Morales raises a few points that add to the dialogue:

 

 

Then there was the largely unsavory spectacle of Rob Schneider’s incendiary sitcom Rob, which is supposedly based on his real life cohabitation with a Latina. The show, which lacks Latino writers, is scripted from Schneider’s (the schlubby white guy) perspective: “Oh no, I have to meet her family, which is a burgeoning tribe of brown-skinned extended cousins that is openly hostile to gringos!”

This conceit was more gracefully handled in the 1997 film Fools Rush In (also based on a real-life culture clash between a Hollywood producer and his bride’s family) starring Matthew Perry and Salma Hayek, but that’s not saying much. Even if you don’t find Rob Schneider charmless and infantile, it’s hard to find redeeming social value in allusions to a) Mexicans having large families because they’re Catholics and don’t believe in contraception, b) someone like the beautiful Spanish actress Claudia Massol, who plays his bride, being attracted to him, and c) seeing him hump the 69-year-old Lupe Ontiveros after spilling hot wax on his, uh, manhood.

The only thing Rob has going for it is a sizable array of Latino actors. It is nice to be reminded of the comedic range that Cheech Marin still possesses, and, despite the repellent smarminess of his character, Eugenio Derbez shows charisma, but it’s hard to see this show lasting long enough to get pre-empted by March Madness. Maybe Paz Vega and Schneider-buddy Adam Sandler can show up as guest stars, reprising their roles from the awkward 2004 filmSpanglish.

Despite all this, Rob garnered blockbuster ratings in its first week, almost twice as much as Work It, which may have more to do with its being scheduled adjacent to the hit comedy Big Bang Theory and the advent of the first cold weather snap of the winter. But it also could be that the sudden filling of the small screen with a roomful of Latino actors, heavily stereotyped or not, had something to do with the big numbers.

The future? As far as I’m concerned, the jury is still out on Sofia Vergara’s character in Modern Family. Despite her often topical rants and her charming, if relatively deracinated son’s zen loquaciousness, she is still so shrieky that she makes Charo look demurely cerebral. And you can make a good case that Napoleon Dynamite’s Pedro is a postmodern revival of what scholar Charles Ramirez Berg would call the Male Buffoon stereotype.

Stereotypes are often used in comedy, but Latinos, who have unfairly taken a beating as a result of anti-immigrant backlash, are consistently over determined by their use in the mass media. So while it seems evident that Latinos are no longer missing in action, it will take time for Hollywood to develop well-drawn characters that begin to convey something of the truth of Latinos who don’t just happen to be Latinos.

The answer could be a grassroots push from independently produced online series like Los Americans and East WillyBBut until we get some real stories to stick in the heads of American viewers, the harmful insults will be the only ones that do.

As for us, we have watched both episodes of "ROB" and we still think that the show is a regression of Latino stereotypes, just like the wildly popular Jersey Shore portrays Italian Americans in a stereotypical lens. But as we have always said, ratings are ratings, even if the show's Facebook marketing shows images of piñatas and conga lines. Stereotypes will always be prevalent in mainstream media, no wonder we are starting to watch more independent shows on the web that are just good shows and don't rely on stereotypes to gain viewers.

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