New TV Shows Aim to Connect With Hispanic Audiences
Hispanic Heritage Month is underway, and there's no better time to turn attention to the portrayal of Hispanic-Americans in media and entertainment. Previous studies and polls have shown that America's viewers need and want more diversity in the characters and stories that they see on the screen. And while there is still a long ways to go, there have been a few breakthrough shows in the past couple of years where Latino culture is recognized, celebrated, and embraced. Newer shows have also focused on the complex issues of Latino identity in the U.S., and the stereotypes, struggles and challenges that Hispanic populations face.
As the country's fasted growing demographic, the demand for more Latino representation on television and in Hollywood will only continue to grow. The cable industry has a long history in prioritizing diversity in its programming, and of working hard to not only ensure a comprehensive reflection of America's wide range of ethnicities, cultures, and races that make up its viewership, but to encourage understanding and acceptance of all of these factors as well.
Let's take a look at a few of those shows that are captivating audiences and centering around Hispanic-American leading casts:
Disney's Elena of Avalor
The Disney Channel introduced Disney's first Latina Princess two years ago. The show's creators and producers wanted a character whom Latino children could identify with, and to share Hispanic heritage and traditions with audiences across the country. The show also goes to great lengths to represent Latin culture in its illustrations of landscapes and artifacts, as well as in the music in every episode, which usually consists of mariachi and salsa, among other genres.
El Rey's Lucha Underground
Lucha Underground, which made its debut in 2014, is a professional wrestling show with drama elements weaved into it, but what makes it stand out in its category is its blend of Mexican and American cultures, and its passionate bilingual fanbase. With the goal of reaching and embracing the hybrid population that now makes up American audiences, El Rey turned a Latin American tradition, the "lucha libre" wrestling style of Mexico, into a cross-cultural phenomenon in the U.S.
In a drama series that centers around two Mexican-American sisters in East Los Angeles and the challenges they confront, Starz took diverse storytelling and put it front and center. Last year, the network's President of Programming Carmi Zlotnik told NCTA that Starz was going to put an emphasis on the Latino sector, and that's precisely what it has done with Vida.
USA's Queen of the South
The Latina female lead of this story about drug cartels is strong and powerful, but the show is much more than just about the narco world. It's a story about female empowerment, and the spirit of a Mexican woman who doesn't just go from rags to riches, but from victim to a fighting survivor.
FX's Mayans M.C.
This new show with an almost exclusively Latino cast is a spinoff of FX's show, Sons of Anarchy, and focuses on the Latino bike club that played a peripheral yet pivotal role throughout the series. The show takes place in a fictional U.S.-Mexico border town, and delves into regional culture clashes, includes plenty of "Spanglish," strong family ties, and a close look at street gangs and the cycle of violence and incarceration that still exists in many of these areas.