Despite being part of the fastest growing demographic in the nation, bi-cultural, bilingual Latinos are still barely present in mainstream television (at least, in a way that doesn’t offend with crude stereotypes…), and there is also very little programming that reaches out to and authentically reflects their experiences. As our friends Latino Rebels lamented in October, “where is the Latin American ‘Mad Men?'” Where is our ‘Cosby Show’?
Nonetheless, in 2012 it seems like television networks finally started to realize the revenue potential of reaching the U.S. Latino audience: Latino-centric cable channel NuvoTV raised $40 million from investors to produce a new lineup of English-language programming; Jennifer Lopez, Emilio Estefan, and Ricky Martin reportedly are developing their own Latino-oriented programming; and MundoFox, a joint venture between News Corp’s Fox International Channels and Colombian broadcaster RCN Television, formally launched in August. I am cautiously hopeful that these new ventures will result in exciting, culturally relevant programming in the coming year. In the meantime, here were some of my favorite Latino shows (or shows that feature Latinos) of 2012:
Now in its third season, the critical consensus remains that Modern Family’s quick-witted comedy is hilarious as ever. There is less consensus, however, on Sofia Vergara’s boisterous, sexy depiction of character ‘Gloria Delgado.’ Some have criticized the character for perpetuating stereotypes about Latinas – namely that we are all sassy, ditzy, loud, and overtly sexual. I think this would be more of an issue if the rest of the characters on the show were well-rounded and subtly drawn – but the truth is Modern Family pokes fun at a wide range of stereotypes (the Cam character, for example, seems like a send-up of the stereotypical flamboyant gay man; the Jay character often mocks the conservative outlook of old white men.) While I do want to see more well-rounded Latino characters on TV, ultimately I can’t deny Vergara’s comedic talent.