Hollywood Needs To Get Past the Narcos Narrative & Celebrate Our Joy

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Television shows with Latines at the forefront have always had to fear the uncertainty that comes with renewal anxiety. From Diary of a Future President to Gentefied, many streaming platforms and network television alike have been dropping the axe on shows beloved by many in the community. 

Well, not all of them are being sent to the chopping block. Shows like Narcos and Queen of the South are granted consistent renewals. 

Both focus on the nature of drug trafficking, specifically within Mexico and Colombia. While there are people from the Latine community that are indeed fond of these shows, it is disappointing to see how those that benefit from crime and stereotypes are the only shows that persist consistently. We don’t have to put a hand over the dark and gritty realities that stem from a culture, but it becomes a problem when that is the only thing Hollywood thinks we wish to see. 

Many projects have surfaced in the last decade with a focus on Latines in lighthearted narratives, proving that we are more than our trauma. 

They were beloved by many with significantly positive ratings on review aggregators such as Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB, including Vida, One Day at a Time, The Baker and the Beauty, Julie and the Phantoms–which featured an Afro-Boricua actress in a leading role, rocking her natural hair for all to seeand The Expanding Universe of Ashley García. And unfortunately, all of them were canceled. Most recently, even Promised Land, which just premiered, was pulled by ABC to finish its season on Hulu after four low-rated airings

Gentefied specifically hit close to home for many as it stood to specifically combat the stereotypes and the “trauma porn” Hollywood tries to sell and promote as a genuine Latine byproduct. Lynda Yvette Chávez, the co-creator of the show, even went on to address this in an interview with Variety by expressing that their main goal was to avoid the exploitation of Latine suffering, specifically when dealing with immigration. 

And one of Gentefied’s most significant subversion of expectations lies within the very first minutes of the pilot. Erik Morales (Joseph Julian Soria) rides into the scene and asks for a copy of The Five Love Languages, playing off of whatever assumption might have been made of his character thanks to the Narcos generation.

These cancellations, and the continued Hollywood perspective on who we are, cause further problems by then adding to the disproportional employment opportunities for Latines in the entertainment industry to make shows about our communities in the first place. That leads to a lack of true diversity and sets Latines back in celebrating our joy in exchange for drug trafficking narratives that “sell.”

Ultimately, shows that continue to feed stereotypes about Latine culture and its people are continuously given the benefit of the doubt and multiple seasons. Meanwhile, Latine creatives, who pave the way for our stories to promote our communities as strong, capable, and multifaceted, are given the short end of the stick.

And if the industry truly wants to push Latine narratives forward, they have to fully commit to uplifting all the stories we have to offer, including the ones who spark joy.