The question of Latino representation on network TV came up quickly at the start of NBC’s Television Critics Assn. press tour on Saturday, which opened with a sesh on sitcom “Welcome to the Family,” about the culture clash between an Anglo and Latino family brought together by a pregnancy.
Latinos have a responsibility to speak up about the lack of Latino characters in primetime, “Family” thesp Justina Machado asserted.
“We as Latinos have to speak up more,” she said. “We don’t exist as much as we’d like to see each other.” Noting the growing clout of Latinos in many aspects of American culture, she observed: “I always like to say, ‘We put Obama over’ ” in the 2012 presidential election.
“Family” co-star Ricardo Chavira said the focus needs to be on getting more rounded Latino characters, such as the father he plays in the multi-generational loafers. “When we exist we often exist in the realm of specific stereotypes,” he said. The biz needs to make an effort to “get away from them.”
Chavira was pressed by journos for his opinion on the new LIfetime drama “Devious Maids,” produced by two of his former colleagues on “Desparate Housewives,” Marc Cherry and Eva Longoria. He demurred at first, saying that the show revolving around maids working for wealthy families has some “absolutely wonderful elements.” He acknowledged the accomplishment of his former colleagues but said “myself personally I have a couple of issues with it, that’s all.”
“Family” creator Mike Sikowitz emphasized that his intention was not to create another Archie Bunker type with the character played by Mike O’Malley but to mine the universal humor of family relationships.
O’Malley joked: “I want to talk about how Irish-Americans are portrayed on TV.”
'Welcome to the Family' to Bring More Positive Latino Characters to Primetime
NBC introduces its new comedy series Welcome to the Family on October 3 and at the Television Critics Association Press Day, the cast and creator of the show talked about how the show will help break some stereotypes. Many of those on stage talked about the lack of positive Latino roles on primetime television and all hoped that the new series will go a long way toward making a difference.
In Welcome to the Family, two families have to learn to get along when teen pregnancy makes them one family. The series stars Mike O'Malley (Glee, Justified), Mary McCormack (In Plain Sight), Ricardo Chavira (Desperate Housewives), and Justina Machado (Private Practice).
Bringing Two Different Types of Families Together
Executive Producer Mike Sikowitz spoke about how he got the idea for the show when out running errands a few years ago. He said he was in a store with his then 3-year-old son and watched as his little boy began playing with another little boy, who happened to be Latino. Sikowitz found himself talking to the other child's father and it made him realize that, with all of the different people there were in the world, he probably never would've met the other man had it not been for their children.
From there, the idea grew to bringing two culturally different families (one Caucasian and one Latino) together for a bigger reason than just two children wanting to play. That is when the idea of the teen pregnancy began and became the basis of the script.
Sikowitz said he wanted to do a show "that reflects Los Angeles and the rest of the world," and represent the Latino community in a way that is unfortunately not seen beyond the multitude of stereotypes that are seen on TV.
How are Latinos Portrayed on TV?
As the mother of the son who is father of the baby to come, star Justina Machado said that she was very happy to be a part of the show and that Latinos needed to say that they want to see themselves more on TV. "We have to speak up about it."
Playing her husband on the show, star Ricardo Chavira said, "When we exist, we exist in the realm of certain stereotypes." He added that while some of those stereotypes are unavoidable and will make an appearance on the show, they will not be the foundation of the series.
Asked how he felt about how the Latino community was being portrayed in Devious Maids (which has been the cause of some controversy on the subject), Chavira said, "I have a couple issues with it."
Overall, the cast and crew promised that the heart of the story will ultimately be the love between the two teenagers.
LOL @ ricardo chavira trying to be diplomatic.