There Is Hope in This World: CBS Cancels “¡ROB!”

 This week, there was still speculation that CBS' "¡ROB!," starring Rob Schneider, was going to get picked up for a second season. It didn't.

CBS canceled the show this week. After getting support from MALDEF the first week the sitcom was aired (Rob is basically the only non-Latino actor in the show), such an endorsement didn't translate in sustained ratings for the show, which keep losing viewers every week, even with "The Big Bang Theory" as its lead-in.

Guess there will be no more "¡Rob! Whack and Win" games.

As for us? There is hope in this world. Here's hoping that major networks begin to get the message. A crap show is a crap show. Add to the fact that CBS was trying to make "¡ROB!" its "Latino sitcom" only made it worse. The comedy was awful, stereotypical, and lame. Memo to the big networks: the idea of a guy dealing with his spouse's culture can be funny, next time get writers who actually understand that experience? Schneider (who is married to a Latina) can't do it all himself.

PS Hispanic Trending did a nice Top 10 List as to why the show got canceled.

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.

Gracias, MALDEF: ¡ROB! Packs Strong Ratings, Despite Bad Reviews and Bad Comedy

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?

As New CBS Show “¡ROB!” Gets Panned for Stereotypical Humor, @DoloresHuerta Tweets Support for Show

Tonight the new CBS sitcom ¡ROB! premieres and already major publications like TIME and The Los Angeles Times are trashing it for its stereotypical, one-dimensional and insensitive humor, especially towards portrayals of Mexican Americans (you know, we are all gardeners, illegals, etc. etc.).

Just this afternoon on Twitter, Latina Icon Dolores Huerta tweeted out to the Twitterverse, asking for support of the show and actor Lupe Ontiveros.

"please support Lupe Ontiveros in the new show Rob! on CBS"

"Show is at 830 on CBS."

"gracias"

Quite frankly, upon reading the reviews and already skeptical of the show's premise, we respectfully decline to support this show. Sorry, Ms. Huerta. And with say that will all the respect in the world and understand that you are using Twitter to support a friend. We do that all the time. We know you have done a lot for Latinos, but a new generation of younger Latinos are respectfull disagreeing. We MUST fight these stereotypes and demand for better programming for Latino actors and writers in Hollywood. Sorry.

The Reviews Are In: New CBS Show ¡Rob! Sucks, Too

So, do television executives sit around a big room and brainstorm stereotypes about Latinos? Because from the looks of it, the latest crop of mainstream sitcoms that are either Latino-themed or feature Latino actors are not having a good month.

Yes, everyone by now knows about ABC's "Work It" Puerto Rican Drug Dealer Joke fiasco, the silence of ABC even as a grassroots group called Boricuas for a Positive Image is preparing for a Thursday afternoon demonstration in New York City, and the-tweet-that-was-an-apology-but-not-everyone-agrees-apology by Puerto Rican actor Amaury Nolasco.

Tonight, the new Rob Schneider comedy ¡Rob! premieres and from the looks of it, the show is already dead on arrival. From the looks of the reviews, Nolasco's troubles might soon transfer over to Latino legend Cheech Marin, and fellow cast members Diana María Riva, Claudia Bassols, Eugenio Derbez, and Lupe Ontiveros.

Here is what the press is saying: 

TIME MAGAZINE

"Then [CBS] presented its newest sitcom, ¡Rob!, starring Rob Schneider, who plays a man who marries into a Mexican American family, upon which “hilarity”—which is to say a bunch of leaf-blower and illegal-immigrant jokes—ensues. The network spin on this one: Schneider’s character is the new Archie Bunker. It’s true, in the sense that both characters are or were on CBS sitcoms. It’s true, that is, in the same sense that Julie Chen is the new Walter Cronkite…

When a show like ¡Rob! makes gardener jokes or 2 Broke Girls makes its Asian manager a nerd who mangles English, on the other hand, they’re not drawing on any real experience of life as it exists today. In fact, they’re going out of their way not to: the whole point of this kind of easy, hack-y joke is that you write them so that a viewer can get the jokes without knowing anything about another culture beyond decades-old clichés, based on other TV shows. You don’t have to know anything about what’s changed in America since All in the Family; you don’t have to have any awareness of Latinos since Chico and the Man."

 

The Los Angeles Times

No doubt there is a grain of truth in the absurd tensions that fuel "Rob" — the overwhelming and sometimes invasive tendencies of a large family, the real cultural differences "mixed" couples encounter, the revelations of early marriage — but Schneider clearly does not think his audience is sophisticated enough to deal with anything more nuanced than Frito-Bandito slapstick.

What with Maggie's henpecked father (a shamefully wasted Cheech Marin), her absurdly controlling mother (a shamefully wasted Diana Maria Riva), her larcenous uncle Hector, (a shamefully wasted Eugenio Derbez, who is actually the funniest thing in the pilot), "Rob" plays like "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" after seven or eight tequila shots.

Maybe someone should do a show about an Anglo man who must face his Mexican American in-laws after he's done a terrible show about them. That might be funny.

The Salt Lake Tribune:

The show revels in racial stereotypes – it's filled with jokes about guacamole and illegal immigration – and makes no excuses for it.

"I don't think you want to stay away from the stereotypes," [Cheech] Marin said. "I think you want to confront them and deal with them."

The show is based on Schneider's real life, and – despite the racial jokes – Schneider insists no offense is intended.

"My wife is not going to let me do anything overly offensive,I guarantee you," he said. "I have to go home to my wife. She'll let me know.

"Nobody here is going to do anything disrespectful," Schneider continued. "I think we want to do things that are funny, and I think, if we could shed some light on it in a way that could be fun and people can relate to it, it's fine."

It's probably time that US Latinos audiences just start walking away from the big networks and move to more original authentic web shows that are wittier and more entertaining.

Turn Off the TV, ¡Coño!