Even before the COVID-19 pandemic had us all watching more television than we had previously done, there were arguments to be made that we were in this sort of “New” Golden Age of Television. With streaming services allowing us to go back at any point and miss the shows we hadn’t seen before and also creating new content for us, it seems almost impossible to run out of good (and bad!) things to watch.
Streaming services have also given opportunity to television programming that generally has not been picked up by network television channels, specifically those that cater to so-called minority populations. 18% of the US population is Latinx and only 8% of series regular and recurring primetime scripted roles belong to Latinx actors. [insert sources here]
Representation of Latinx characters in shows with diverse casts (such as America Ferrera’s Amy Sosa on Superstore, Stephanie Beatriz and Melissa Fumero’s Rosa Diaz and Amy Santiago on Brooklyn 99, and Oscar Nuñez’s Oscar Martinez on the US adaptation of The Office) is growing and we love to see Latinx people just being people and not being tokenized. We are here for it.
But sometimes I think that’s not enough. We have to hit white people over the head with Latinx representation in order for them (us) not to “other” the Latinx characters on a given show. We need Latinx shows full of Latinx actors playing Latinx characters. And while the numbers are still low given the overall Latinx population in this country, I would argue that we are almost in a pseudo Latinx Television Boom.
There are Latinx-centric shows on virtually all streaming services. And they’re not all falling into the stereotypes imposed by white creators. You know, the maids, the gang members, the sexy Latin lovers… that sort of thing. Below are a few personal favorites, followed by a list of others worth checking out.
One Day at a Time (Netflix, Paramount)
This one is my all-time favorite. I have probably watched it 3 times all the way through and have gone back to certain episodes time and again. Created by Cuban-American Gloria Calderón-Kellett and staring Justina Machado, Rita Moreno, Isabella Gomez, and Marcel Ruiz, this show is a multi-generational look at a Cuban-American family living in Los Angeles.
Love, Victor (Hulu)
A new favorite. I’ve only watched it once through so far, but I can see myself doing a rewatch in the near future. This is a spin-off of the film Love, Simon, which was based off the YA novel Simon vs. the Homo-Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli and stars Michael Cimino as the title character and James Martinez and Ana Ortiz as his working-class, Catholic parents.. The show follows Colombian-Puerto Rican student Victor as he moves to a new city, comes to terms with his own sexuality, and faces his fears over coming out to his family.
I first heard about this show while listening to a favorite podcast of mine (Spanish Aquí Presents). The actor who plays Chris, Carlos Santos is one of the four hosts of this podcast filled with Latinx improv actors. I can’t wait for season two to drop! This show is based off of a digital series of the same name and by the same creators but features new characters. It focuses on the struggles around gentrification in the LA neighborhood of Boyle Heights. Other actors in this ensemble cast include Joaquín Cosio, Joseph Julian Soria, Karrie Martin, Annie Gonzalez, and Julissa Calderón.
Los Espookys (HBOmax)
This one’s in Spanish folks! Don’t worry, there are subtitles. Starring Fred Armisen, Cassandra Ciangherotti, Ana Fabrega, Julio Torres, and Bernardo Velasco, this show follows a group of friends who love horror and turn that love into a business where they provide horror in various forms to those who want it. It’s definitely an out of the box show!
Seis Manos (Netflix)
Mexic-anime! Yes, you read that right. At least that’s what creator, Álvaro Rodríguez calls this show. Seis manos features three orphans who have been raised by a Kung Fu master and are thrown into a mystery that involves demonic powers, drug cartels, ancient rituals, and blood sacrifice. Voice actors include Danny Trejo, Mike Colter, Jonny Cruz, Aislinn Derbez, and Angélica Vale.
Other Latinx-centric shows you might want to check out:
- The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia (Netflix)
- Diary of a Future President (Disney+)
- Party of Five (Freeform)
- Mr. Iglesias (Netflix)
- Vida (Starz)
- On My Block (Netflix)
- Jane the Virgin (Netflix, Amazon Prime)
- Selena: the Series (Netflix)
- Cristela (Amazon Prime)
- Pose (Netflix)
- East Los High (Hulu)
- The Baker and the Beauty (Netflix, Amazon Prime)
Other shows I’ve enjoyed with well-developed Latinx characters:
- Superstore (America Ferrera)
- Brooklyn 99 (Stephanie Beatriz and Melissa Fumero)
- Cobra Kai (Xolo Maridueña)
- The Baby-Sitters Club (Xochitl Gomez)
- 911-Lonestar (Gina Torres, Rafael Silva, and Julian Works)
- Doom Patrol (Diane Guerrero)
Comment below with some of your favorite Latinx-centric shows, or even shows that feature Latinx characters. What Latinx actors do you think we should be watching?