While the issue of Latino representation in U.S. media is still very much a work in progress, mainstream television has still been known to throw us a bone every now and then with family sitcoms like The George Lopez Show, or groundbreaking PBS series like Qué Pasa, USA? and American Family and more recently Jane the Virgin. Even so, these shows have tended to focus principally on the family experience of Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, and the stray Puerto Rican or South American here and there – which kind of makes sense considering that we’re talking about the U.S.’ first, third, and second-largest Latino groups, respectively. But still, over the last couple of decades, Latino demographics have shifted considerably and, frankly, Dominican-Americans have been blowin’ up. So isn’t it about time America’s tigueres got a little love from network TV?
According to the Hollywood Reporter, NBC is the first network to officially give that love in the form of a pilot for the family sitcom Vlad, created by Bronx-born Dominican stand up comedian Vladimir Caamaño, in collaboration with the duo behind Undateable, Bill Lawrence and Adam Sztykiel. The show will star Caamaño and be based on his own comedy material, which explores his life as a second-generation Dominican in the Bronx as well as working-class Dominican family dynamics. Lawrence and Sztykiel will no doubt be on board to make sure it doesn’t all get too Latino for mainstream audiences.
With the recent success of diversity-focused network sitcoms like Empire, Dr. Ken and Black-ish, it’s probably safe to assume that the execs at NBC just skimmed the latest census data and found the first underrepresented minority sub-group that popped up. Either way, this is great news for Dominicans and Latinos in general. Let’s just hope this one doesn’t go the way of Fresh Off the Boat, which, despite its success, quickly alienated co-creator Eddie Huang for its overly-sanitized vision of immigrant life. If all goes well with the Vlad pilot, NBC will — fingers crossed — greenlight the series.
UPDATE 9/20/2016: As of September 2016, this pilot has not yet received a series order according to Variety’s TV Pilots Scorecard.