‘Roswell, New Mexico’ Showrunner & Cast On Why the Spanish Dialogue Doesn’t Have Subtitles

Lead Photo: Jeanine Mason as Liz in 'Roswell, New Mexico.' Photo by Ursula Coyote. Courtesy of The CW
Jeanine Mason as Liz in 'Roswell, New Mexico.' Photo by Ursula Coyote. Courtesy of The CW
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This article contains spoilers for season one of Roswell, New Mexico.

Roswell, New Mexico has proven itself to be quite different than its original run. Among its biggest improvements was incorporating a more diverse cast into the central story and tying in present-day political discussions about immigration – of course, with the help of actual aliens from outer space. Ahead of season two’s premiere, members of the cast stopped by New York Comic Con to talk about some changes ahead and one of the best new things about the reboot that will be staying the same.

On the show, Spanish and English flow freely between characters without subtitles. Either you catch those lines or you won’t. Showrunner Carina Adly MacKenzie told the NYCC crowd that that was the point. “Not everything has to be for everybody,” she said. “It’s okay if you miss it. Our rule is that you can speak Spanish as long as we don’t have to subtitle it.”

Adly MacKenzie said actors Carlos Compean, who plays Arturo, and Jeanine Mason, the Cuban-American actress who plays Arturo’s daughter, Liz, made the linguistic switches themselves. “It’s very important because so many people grow up watching English TV and missing bits and pieces because they’re still learning,” she said. “I thought it was okay for white people to deal with that once in a while.”

Representation was a central cornerstone of the reboot, and Liz and the Ortecho family play a major part on the show. “I think that when you took a look at the original Roswell, it was beautiful, it was amazing – but it was about white people,” said Adly MacKenzie. “In the conception of a reboot, we wanted to make sure that we were being representative, which at times made me question whether or not I was the right person to do it. I’ve tried to take what I know and what I experience and also give a voice to other people. We have a very diverse writers’ room with people who have very different experiences from mine.”

“I was thinking about this the other day because it’s Hispanic Heritage Month,” said Mason. “I was doing a scene the other day with Mr. Michael Trevino, and we have a new recurring guest this year playing a character named Steph. Her name is Justine, and she’s from New York, she’s Puerto Rican. We were just sitting in our chairs, just chatting. I realized that one of the shows I watched growing up was Gossip Girl, and I remember watching that show and thinking, maybe one day I’ll be on a CW show if I get cast as the ethnically ambiguous Vanessa character, maybe there’s space for me there. I remember sitting in our chairs like, ‘Oh my God, this is my fucking show and this is how many of us we have here.’”

As one of the main leads of the show, Mason’s character will have some of the biggest plot twists to deal with this season like the return of Rosa (Amber Midthunder), Liz’s sister who’s been dead for some time. “What a crazy scene to get to do,” said Mason. “Only a sci-fi show do you get to be like, ‘Oh hey, your sister who has been dead for 10 years is back.’”

Unfortunately for Liz, the return of her sister meant the sacrifice of her guy, Max (Nathan Parsons). It’s a devastating loss her character will be grappling with throughout the second season. “Pretty quickly we tap into the anger because God bless Liz Ortecho, she’s all about her agency,” said Mason. “And this guy went ahead and made a giant decision that really affects her life without consulting her and so the anger is really tied into her and that’s so fun. It’s another actor boner because you get to play that thin line of I want you, I’m so mad at you, and how dare you but also thank you.”

Roswell, New Mexico will return to The CW in 2020.