5 Reasons You Should Watch NBC’s New Latina-Led Comedies ‘Telenovela’ and ‘Superstore’

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NBC is playing the diversity card hard this winter, thanks to the premiere of the Eva Longoria vehicle Telenovela and America Ferrara’s Superstore

Telenovela, executive-produced and written by Chrissy Pietrosh, Jessica Goldstein (can I get a woot woot for female creators in Hollywood?) and UnbeliEVAble Entertainment follows the behind-the-scenes hijinks of shooting a telenovela. Ms. Longoria plays Ana Sofía, the star of a Spanish telenovela called Las Leyes de Pasión. Ana Sofía is dealing with a couple of problems. Mainly: she doesn’t speak Spanish, she’s getting older, and her ex-husband (played by actual soapstar Jencarlos Canela) is the newly hired love interest on Leyes. Telenovela feels like the absurd-slapstick-melodramatic distant cousin of Lifetime’s unREAL.

Superstore, on the other hand, feels more like The Office. Its creator and head writer, Justin Spitzer, served as a producer on the workplace mockumentary show. Superstore feels more grounded. It follows a group of employees at a super-sized megastore. Fun fact: the pilot was shot at an actual K-Mart. Yes, they approached the actors as employees and yes, the actors referred customers to the correct aisles (high fives for commitment.) At the center of this ensemble of comedy veterans sit America Ferrera and Ben Feldman. America plays Amy, the solid and realistic employee, while Ben plays Jonah, a dreamer who literally tapes glow-in-the-dark stars to the ceilings. Just like The Office superstore promises laughs and a lot of heart.

Last week, I got the opportunity to attend the press junket for both shows. Aside from bloggers and photographers who screamed at me for stepping on their stools without permission, I had a ball. Both ensembles seem to genuinely enjoy each other’s company and the shows they are a part of. So, after your pavo feast this weekend, I suggest you get comfy, wear your stretchy pants, and partake in the shenanigans. Here are the top reasons why you should tune in.

Catch a special preview of Superstore November 30 at 10 p.m. and Telenovela December 7 at 10 p.m.

Both shows officially premiere on NBC January 4, 2015 starting at 8 p.m.


Neither show is Hispandering.

As Ms. Longoria aptly put it, “They’re not Latino stories. This is not a Latino comedy, this is a comedy that has universal themes of family and friendship and love and workplace. And it’s really funny. And so I don’t set out to do Latino content, but I have tapped into something that I think reflects the changing landscape of America.” Interesting.

Ferrera echoed that sentiment when explaining the casting process. “None of the characters were written specifically [as] any race or ethnicity. The only one was Nico’s character, who was written [as] Mexican, and they cast a Filipino. Everybody else was not defined. And look at this cast; I mean, we are so diverse, and we come from such different walks of life. And that was really exciting to me. I could see that Justin’s vision, along with other EPs [executive producers], was to show a world that really reflected the world that we’re living in. And that was exciting to me.”

Hmm…so what you’re saying, ladies, is that you’ve produced shows with multidimensional characters who happen to be Hispanic/Latino? Mindy Kaling, watch out. We’re coming for you.


Both are female-led comedies.

The driving forces of both ensembles are female. Bonus points to Ferrera and Longoria for producing as well. I’m not a fan of women going on diatribes of how the entertainment industry is sexist or writing essays about how women can’t be funny. We are. This topic is boring. I’m a fan of ladies getting shit done, like these two. Kudos.


Eye candy. (Eeew. I already take it back.)

You want to see modern day heartthrobs? Look no further than these two shows. On Telenovela, Amaury Nolasco has the villain market cornered and Jencarlos Canela (yes, his last name is cinnamon and he looks like he smells like the spice) plays the leading man. However, if you’re into the sensitive type who can quote Shakespeare at a second’s notice, look no further than Ben Feldman in Superstore.

He seriously compared the show to Shakespeare. “I think that there’s something very Shakespearean about the way the show is written. Hear me out. In that it very much – it speaks to the groundlings and it speaks to the aristocracy, and everybody in between. Right?” Right, Mr. Darcy – Mr.Feldman, I meant Feldman.


Legitimately funny people.

We all know Eva Longoria was the best thing on Desperate Housewives, and duh, Ferrera’s Betty will always be the original adorkable (That’s right Zooey Deschanel, you’re just a watered down Betty. I see you). They should be reason enough to watch, but in case you need more swaying, the co-stars will swing the pendulum in their favor.

For Telenovela we have Alex Meneses, who trained at the original Second City in Chicago, and Aaron Sorkin fave Diana Maria Riva (In the latter case, you know that if someone can nail a Sorkin walk and talk she can do errything). Finally, the charming Izzy Diaz, who has earned his stripes on Workaholics, Rules of Engagement, and Monk, will charm your pants off (best watch alone.)

Superstore had me with Ben Feldman (Silicon Valley and the Rashida Jones joint A to Z), but I will stay for Key and Peele’s writer Colton Dunn, SNL‘s Mark McKinney, Another Period‘s Lauren Ash and the adorable Nico Santos. I promise you’ll want to put Santos in your pocket and carry him everywhere with you, because he’ll brighten up your sad existence. Oh! And queen of nonsense Natasha Leggero will guest star. Eek!


There’s nothing on television like them. For real.

Whether the shows hold up and get renewed remains to be seen. But this uncertainty does not undermine the words of Ms. Ferrera. “There’s nothing on television like it right now. It’s not like, oh, another detective show or another lawyer show or another, you know, show that you’ve seen before. It’s a world we haven’t been in, it’s a cast of characters that don’t look like what television cast of characters look like. It’s just fresh.” The same can be said of Telenovela. Good job, NBC. Took you long enough.