MTV’s “Washington Heights:” Just Another Lost Opportunity for Latinos

Ok, MTV, we give you a B for concept, but an F for execution. The idea of a reality show based in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan sounded great on paper. It really did. And quite frankly, last night’s premiere had some moments, but here is why we thought the show was just another failed opportunity at trying to take advantage of the new hot “Latinos are cool” craze.

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The end result was just another example of how to perpetuate lame and typical stereotypes to a mass market. Just listening to the voiceovers and the scripts made us cringe (“we don’t have much in our pockets, but we have big dreams”). Now that “Jersey Shore” is over, welcome to “Dominican Shore.” Suck it, MTV. Thanks for nothing.

Here are just a few of the reasons we thought the show was awful:

    • The opening intro alone told us this show was not for us. You know those “Dominican girls!” (wink, wink)
    • The main lead and narrator is a singer who wants to make it big. Wow, how original.
    • His best friend is of Dominican descent who wants to be a professional baseball player. Seriously? Oh yeah, and his dad is in jail. Stereotype much? (Although the best scene of the show was the meeting in prison between Jimmy and his dad. Talk about subtext. Go figure.)
    • The women in the show are just subservient characters to the male guys. Without their men, the are nothing. Worried more about relationships than themselves. The clingy man-crazy loud Latina lives on. Sad.
    • What’s up with Taylor? What is MTV trying to say? Hey, kids, look at this white character hanging with the Dominican kids! You can too!
    • The music was heavily one genre: hip hop. Talk about MTV-izing a Latino neighborhood. You would have thought they could have been more authentic about it. Da Heights we know sure as hell isn’t Da Heights MTV is manufacturing to its demographic of suburban teens and young adults.
    • The show was boring. That didn’t help. And neither did Latina Magazine’s ridiculous slang guide.

We could go on, but we won’t. Our interest fizzled out by the middle of the episode. And it proves once again that the mainstream just doesn’t get it and it will never will. Here is the main problem with “Washington Heights:” it could actually work in the media landscape if there was other programming that would balance it out. That is, if there were shows that DIDN’T try to push the stereotypes, then shows like “Washington Heights” would have to feel the pressure of trying to authentically portray what is in fact a very vibrant part of NYC. Instead, we get an MTV version of a neighborhood and now the whole world will think that this is what the real Washington Heights is all about. It isn’t, and MTV failed, but hey, it’s MTV, what are you expecting?

Here’s to the real voices of the Washington Heights, those who know where they come from and where they are going to. Those who are keeping it real and respecting their cultures. Those who are changing the stereotypes. Those are the voices that matter and those are the voices that will continue to surpass any of the fake reality content that MTV is trying to push.

But don’t take our word for it, check out the episode for yourself.

5 comments
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