There’s a moment in the second season of This Fool where the main character Julio, portrayed by show creator Chris Estrada, is being held hostage in a convenience store along with his cousin Luis (Frankie Quiñones), Luis’s lady friend Ruby (Gentefied’s Ivana Rojas), and some other innocent bystanders. Julio’s mom calls and he tries to explain to her why he won’t be home for dinner. But there’s a problem—he doesn’t know the word “hostage” in Spanish.
He takes a minute to ask Luis and Ruby if they know. They do not. So he ventures a hesitant “hostage?” in English, breaking the pair’s usual Spanish-only banter.
It is such a perfect and perfectly ridiculous moment in a show full of them.
The first season of This Fool earned a 100 percent critics’ approval rating and 90 percent from fans on Rotten Tomatoes, scored a spot on some “Best of” lists, and got renewed for a second season, out Friday on Hulu.
Well @ThisFoolHulu didn’t get any Emmy nominations but the other day I was walking down the street and a guy with a LA Dodgers neck tattoo yelled out “ay I like your show!” So I guess we got that.
— Chris Estrada (@ChrisEstrada85) July 13, 2023
But the second season comes at a time when Hollywood has been shut down by joint writer-actor strikes. Estrada can’t give interviews to promote the show he made based on his own life and stand up, and neither can the rest of the cast, which is a shame, especially for one of the rare Latinx shows to get a coveted renewal.
Latinx projects already seem to suffer from a lack of marketing. What’s going to happen when studios —who’ve refused to pay their workforce fairly— go ahead with their sans-talent promotional strategies? Who will get the studios’ marketing coin? And who will be blamed and punished?
We don’t know any of that yet, but we do know the unions aren’t calling for a boycott of show-watching —or moviegoing— so we can go ahead and watch shows with unique, human voices like This Fool while we have them.
There’s plenty to enjoy in this second installment too. Julio is as neurotic and self-sabotaging as always. The adolescent boy humor is back, as is the social commentary—here’s a show that dedicates its season-two opener to a potential race war when Julio’s elder Don Emilio (Ramón Franco) refuses to give up a rooster that is terrorizing their mixed neighborhood. The interplay between the Black, Latino, and Asian households is hilarious.
The show features an “I Love L.A.” montage, complete with the Randy Newman song that plays during Dodger games (another Chicano staple). And instead of seeing blue skies and palm trees, This Fool gives us the working-class neighborhoods of L.A. with their multilingual, hand-made signs, dirty sidewalks, and dilapidated architecture.
This is a show that pilloried philanthropists in season one and spends more time mocking the rich in season two. The list goes on.
Sophomore seasons can be rough, and this one does lack the careful structuring of the first, which gave its characters a new layer of complexity in each episode. Instead, season two meanders, taking time with Julio, Luis, their family, and friends as they adjust to the first season’s big events.
Plot is overrated anyway, particularly in comedy where character development brings in the big laughs. In this season, Luis becomes more than a poke in Julio’s side—he’s his own man, growing beside but not because of or for Julio. And the same goes for many of the other characters, ranging from Michael Imperioli’s Minister Payne to Michelle Ortiz’s Maggie, who gets her own hilarious episode (the prosthetics on that one are a riot).
The universe gets bigger too, with more side characters, political realities, and masturbation jokes. It’s a unique show, driven by Estrada’s unique voice.
Part of that is just that it’s pretty rare to see Mexican Americans telling our own stories on TV, and another part is also just who Estrada seems to be—his voice, his experiences, his sense of humor. He’s the type of guy who would take a call from his mom in the middle of a holdup and then crowdsource how to say “hostage” in Spanish.
It’s a pretty funny perspective and one that you definitely should catch.
The second season of This Fool airs Friday, July 28 on Hulu.
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