It’s easy to be fatalistic as a fan of Latinx TV. Whenever a new show comes out —no matter how good, how well received, how high its ratings— I’m always steeling myself for what feels like the inevitable news of its cancelation.
While there’s plenty of that going on, thankfully it’s not the only thing. And as loud as we rightfully get when Hollywood execs —who would make writing a gig rather than a career— cancel a Latino show, we should be just as vocal when our shows get renewed. So let’s take a moment to celebrate the fact that several Latinx shows are getting new seasons!
News recently dropped that not one but two network shows starring Latinas got picked up for a second season: Lopez vs. Lopez and Not Dead Yet.
Yes, NBC’s Lopez vs. Lopez leans on the legacy of the George Lopez show for its success —starring the problematic George Lopez of both titles— but it makes me guffaw at least once an episode thanks to the inside knowledge of its Latinx writers’ room, led by Debby Wolfe.
ABC’s Not Dead Yet stars Gina Rodriguez, who’s had her own controversies, and it is less Latinx in its outlook—its heroine may be Latina but she’s striving in a multiracial world, rather than cocooned in a Latinx family. Still, it’s notable that Rodriguez is successfully carrying the show, her brown face taking up all the film’s promotional images.
She’s proof that the pipeline can work for us as much as it does for everyone —and that our community has the talent and tenacity to become bonafide stars— all we need is the opportunity.
And while network TV still draws the biggest audiences —and residuals for its creators— it’s obviously not the only game in town. Streaming has generally had better representation numbers but seems quicker to cancel our shows—looking at you, Gorditia Chronicles and Gentefied.
Still, there’s good news on that front as well. This summer, Latinx audiences will get second helpings of two (that seems to be our number) streaming shows: With Love and This Fool. They’re dramatically different in tone (Latinx people are not a monolith!) but both good in their own ways.
With Love is a romantic, holiday-esque comedy from Gloria Calderón Kellett (One Day at a Time) on Prime Video. The first installment dropped around Christmas 2021 and the second one is just weeks away. It’s sweet and gentle and feminine, focused on love and family.
Chris Estrada’s This Fool is decidedly gruffer, telling a Latino buddy story. It follows two primos reunited after choosing opposite paths: one a formerly incarcerated gang member, and the other a non-profiteer rehabilitating men like his cousin. As such, This Fool is hilarious and layered, and I’m so glad it’s getting a second season on Hulu.
If you’re noticing a trend here, it’s that all four of these renewed shows are comedies. It turns out humor is a big part of our culture! We’re not all serious drug mules and cartel bosses after all.
I kid, but also, research like Stacie de Armas’s for Nielson shows that comedy is “Hispanics’” favorite genre—even if we’re most represented in crime shows. Because, you know… stereotypes… the white gaze… not telling our own stories… yadda yadda.
I guess what I’m saying here, and what numbers like Neilson’s and UCLA’s support, is that Latinx people show up for our own shows, particularly when they’re authentically ours—a.k.a. written and created by us.
So Hollywood should take note and keep such shows coming. Of course, we don’t know when those new episodes of Lopez vs. Lopez and Not Dead Yet will drop, with all of Hollywood embroiled in a pay dispute.
Is it a coincidence that as soon as Hollywood began letting in Latinx and other writers of color it also stopped paying them a fair share? Probably. I’m certainly not the only one noting that particular relationship.
Still, I have hope thanks to these renewals and the leadership of the Writers Guild of America. Maybe, just maybe, if we stay loud and organized enough, we’ll finally get meaningful Latinx representation in the genres we prefer, for more than a season, created by our community.
That’s the dream, and it’s one I’m going to keep willing into being.
Cristina Escobar is the entertainment reporter for Latino Rebels. She is also the co-founder of latinamedia.co, uplifting Latina and gender non-conforming Latinx perspectives in media. She’s a member of the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association and writes at the intersection of race, gender, and pop culture. Twitter: @cescobarandrade