There was a time that did not think that I’d actually have multiple choices of shows with leading roles for Latinas on television on one network on one night. But last night I watched TWO Latinas starring in their own shows – Eva Longoria stars on Telenovela and America Ferrera stars in Superstore. Neither of them are the cleaning lady or a gang member. Progress. And as I shared last week, there’s one more show this week that will be premiering on NBC starring Jennifer Lopez.
Telenovela is a funny, so over-the-top comedy about a telenovela star who doesn’t speak Spanish and is forced to work with her ex-husband on the show. The first three episodes were released online and on demand in December 2015. Last night’s show was episode 4. Eva Longoria’s character, Ana Sofia, finds herself as the new love interest of the network’s producer. In an attempt to protect her heart from being vulnerable again, she pretends to be more like her character on the telenovela show. Of course, that doesn’t work out and she ultimately has to remain true to herself – Ana Sofia, who we are all falling in love with.
Superstore is a work-place comedy about, you guessed it, a big box retail store. Personally, I don’t know if I find the comedy and writing hilarious because it reminds me of The Office (created and written by Justin Spitzer) or because I spent many years working in retail. America Ferrera plays Amy, the stellar employee who the other employees look to for direction, who finds herself in an unspoken dilemma about her feelings for the new guy, Jonah, played by Ben Feldman. Along with the supporting cast, it all comes together to make us laugh at (or with) this dysfunctional workplace family.
Latinas on Television in 2016, Now What?
In 2013, I interviewed Latina journalist Lisa Guerrero and she made a point that has stuck with me in regards to Latinas on TV shows. At the time, Devious Maids was debuting and many did not appreciate that the ONLY show starring Latinas as the leads was about maids. Lisa emphasized that the problem wasn’t necessarily THAT show but the fact that it was the ONLY show.
So, here we are in 2016. On one network, we now have THREE shows with leading Latina roles. Each are different. None are maids. Two are comedic roles and one is a dramatic role. (And that’s not including the other shows with Latina stars and Latino/a writers, gasp! More coming on that soon.)
Now, we have more options. Now, we support. Now, we watch the shows. And when we have discussions on what we like it’s not only about supporting THE Latina on tv but which one? Of course, I’ll support them all because it’s taken this long to see them starring in their own shows on prime time tv!
As much as possible, I will be on Twitter on Monday nights live-tweeting about #Superstore and #Telenovela. I invite you to watch the shows and join in the conversation. Follow @NBCSuperstore @NBCTelenovela and me @QueMeansWhat on Twitter.
Superstore airs on NBC at 7 p.m. CST and Telenovela follows at 7:30 p.m. CST.