Seth MacFarlane has never shied from politically incorrect provocation; in fact, it’s kind of his M.O. Sure, some amongst us might be put off by the stereotyped image of Family Guy‘s Latina maid, Consuelo, but you can’t deny that the guy is an equal opportunity jodón, trafficking in grotesque stereotypes while still managing to find the endearing humanity in all his characters. It’s an unmistakable signature that has defined MacFarlane’s work since he branched off from Family Guy‘s sendup of small-town New England americana to satires of beltway culture (American Dad!) and whatever the heck The Cleveland Show was about. Now, Fox has has finally released a trailer for his latest twisted brainchild, a take on ethnic tensions in a small, Southwestern border town called Bordertown. Órale!
Focusing on the unlikely friendship between Bud Buckwald: a white, middle-aged Border Patrol agent with deep roots in the area, and his immigrant neighbor Ernesto Gonzalez, Bordertown’s sympathies lie clearly on the side of immigrant America. But aside from its irreverent takedown of U.S. immigration policy, the show is essentially about two families united by their common humanity. Ernesto is an industrious immigrant living with his wife María, son Ruiz, and 21-year-old nephew J.C., while Bud heads up a household that includes wife Janice, along with their kids Becky, Sanford, and Gert. On Bud’s end there a touch of jealousy and mistrust toward his successful, hardworking neighbors, but ultimately their bonds trump whatever differences they may have.
For anyone thinking that Bordertown will be little more than a flash in the cultural pan, the dugout of talent MacFarlane and co-Executive Producer Matt Hentemann have managed to put together might convince you otherwise. Voice actors include Nicholas Gonzalez of Sleepy Hollow and Simpsons perennial Hank Azaria, along with Judah Friedlander (30 Rock), Efren Ramirez (Napoleon Dynamite), and Alex Borstein (Lois on Family Guy). More importantly, Hentemann had enough foresight to bring on a handful of Latino writers to hold things down in the authenticity department, with groundbreaking Mexican-American cartoonist and satirist Lalo Alcaraz (creator of the syndicated comic strip “La Cucaracha”) being the most high-profile recruit.
A quick glance at the trailer leaves no question as to who’s behind the series, with the colorful, caricaturesque animation we’ve come to expect from MacFarlane, while the comedy seems more in the character-driven vein of American Dad! than the absurdist, cut-away driven laughs of Family Guy. Alcaraz himself has admitted that some of the more sensitive among us might be offended by the show’s satire, but at least we can rest easy knowing that it’s coming from within the struggle.
We’ll have to see it to believe it, but Bordertown speaks to a maturing cultural conversation surrounding immigration in this country. And, of course, let’s give it up to MacFarlane for ripping Rupert Murdoch a new one on his own channel.
Bordertown premieres Sunday, January 3, 2016 at 9:30 p.m. on Fox.