Latinx Shows You Need To Be Paying Attention To

It's no secret that Latinx stories and the creatives in front of and behind the camera do not always get the attention and recognition they deserve. In 2020 alone there has been an increase in demand for more representation of the culture. During this past annual National Hispanic Heritage Month on October 15, a letter titled #EndLatinXclusion was released by a team of Latina women in the industry demanding Hollywood for more visibility in their stories. This comes from back to back disappointments in the industry of Hollywood making choices that have a great impact on limiting visibility of this demographic. The first comes from the cancellation of the last Latinx show on network TV. A decision that upset other Latinx creatives like Gloria Calderon Kellett, co-showrunner of One Day at a Time. Following this decision came awards season, notably the Emmys. The awards show was praised for honouring a more diverse list of nominees and winners, as it was covered here on Her Campus, but what it lacked was any recognition for the few Latinx shows that aired during awards season. In a year filled with a higher demand for minority voices to be heard, here is a list of essential Latinx shows that should be on your watchlist. 

Vida

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Vida (@vida_starz)

Starting off is the most underrated show on this list and that is the drama series Vida, which premiered on the Starz network. It follows two Mexican-American sisters as they reconnect after the death of their mother in their childhood neighbourhood in Los Angeles. As they deal with the fallout of the bar that their mother owned, which is full of unpaid debts and on the brink of shutdown, the two sisters must push past their differences and try to keep it all together. This is all while they uncover secret truths about their mothers identity and the shocking truths of what happened in their past. 

Vida was created by showrunner Tanya Saracho, a queer Latina who brings the most beautiful, joyous and complex stories too rarely seen on television. The series protagonists, Lyn and Emma, are cut from the same cloth but could not be more different from each other. While Lyn is a fun, bubbly but sometimes reckless character, Emma is the more brooding, serious but more responsible of the two. Together they work off one another like real sisters, who need to come together for the sake of what's left of their family and childhood.  They are the heart and soul of the series, who are both trying to find their way through a tumultuous period where they question their past, identities, who they are and who they want to become. 

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The show also features a strong ensemble of characters that have their own storylines and themes. Subplots of social justice groups run by Latinx individuals who passionately fight against the gentrification that their neighbourhood faces daily. The bar that the sisters have to keep afloat is also the hotspot for queer Latinx people to feel safe, have fun and authentically be who they are. Saracho is able to center the narrative on the queer experience without pandering to the audience. She allows these characters to show us who they are and has this quality of presenting the beauty of the queer experience. All from the sometimes graphic but wholly intimate sex scenes and the romances that blossom from that. It features a community shared by those whose stories are too often brought to the sidelines in the media. The series features talent not just in front but behind the camera as well. Tanya Saracho made efforts to make the entire writing team Latinx and the directors Latina. She pushed boundaries to bring authenticity to the screen. To make the sex feel real, vulnerable and intimate. The queerness is authentic and from writers who know that experience. The show's soundtrack features Latinx artists, Jarina De Marco being one of the highlights. It's the way the show brings three-dimensional Latinx characters to the screen without any form of stereotyping shows the power of bringing creators in the actual community to tell their own stories. Vida is a show that needs more attention and deserves it for being unlike anything else on TV. 

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

Vida’s three seasons aired on Starz from 2018-2020.

Watch the electrifying Season one trailer here. 

All three seasons of Vida are available now on Crave TV with a Starz Channel subscription.

One Day at a Time

A 21st-century update of the original 1970s sitcom, One Day at a Time has grown into becoming a groundbreaking show for Latinx representation on television. Television icon and titan Norman Lear, now in his late 90s, revived his own sitcom for a modern audience on Netflix, centering on a Cuban-American family. It follows Penelope Alvarez, a recently divorced ex-military mother working as a nurse practitioner trying to raise her two kids with her mother. The series reached massive critical acclaim featuring stories with hard-hitting, topical issues, all while never losing its hilarity. The show has a perfect formula that feels like your classic Norman Lear multi-cam sitcoms in the 70s and 80s while having its own authentic voice. This is because its showrunner, Gloria Calderon Kellett, is a Latinx woman who pours her own experience and inspiration from her family to create a show that gives proper representation to a Latinx series. 

Fun fact: Kellett and Tanya Saracho are part of the Untitled Latinx Project group that aims to fight for more of their stories to be greenlit by Hollywood. 

The range of topics that the series brings to the table is endless as it covers everything from homophobia, sexism, religion, feminism, even topics too rarely discussed like masturbation, mental health and PTSD. Just to name a few within its 50+ episodes. It has Latinx rep, LGBTQ+ rep and female lead and showrunner rep all in a show that embraces all of that and has these characters live their own authentic lives. It's the perfect balance of hot button issues and the characters hilarious wit and humour make the show not just appealing for the whole family, but one of the most essential sitcoms to watch in recent years. 

Norman Lear serves as an executive producer on the series as Gloria Calderon Kellett is co-showrunner alongside veteran writer Mike Royce of Everybody Loves Raymond. 

Plus, the cast features the amazing Justin Machado as Penelope, who brings all the heart and soul into the series. The EGOT legend Rita Moreno as the spicy, fiery and hilarious grandmother Lydia. It features bright talented newcomers Marcel Ruiz and Isabella Gomez who all work seamlessly together in this perfectly imperfect, lovable family.  

The series grew a dedicated fan base over its three seasons on Netflix. Even after its Netflix cancellation the show was brought back for its fourth season. A feat that is rare for a show, especially one that features minorities both in front of and behind the camera. 

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One Day at a Time has three seasons now available on Netflix. Season four aired on both Pop Tv and on CBS. Its fifth season hangs in the balance of its recent performance on CBS. 

Watch the series trailer here. 

Love, Victor 

A spin-off series from the critically acclaimed and successful movie Love, Simon, this time around at Creekwood high the story is centered around a new Latino protagonist by the name of Victor. The series focuses on similar struggles that Simon Spier from the original movie faced such as identity, coming out and self-discovery. But whereas Simon and his family are a white, upper-middle-class family, Victor comes from a working-class religious family who feels like he’s more at risk than Simon was in trying to come out. Like the movie it's spinning off of, the series is a super delightful treat with characters who are just so lovable you care about all their different storylines. It has a protagonist that is relatable, adorable and easy to root for throughout its 10 episode run. Having the same tone, wholesome characters and heart-wrenching drama that makes it easily consumable like Love Simon. It even features cameos from the original movie, in one of the best episodes of the season, fitting right into the Creekwood universe while expanding it for those of us whose families feel more like Victors. 

It's interesting that the show features a minority lead struggling to overcome adversity, as that was the case for the show itself. The series was actually supposed to air on Disney plus, but due to some questionable reasons, the show was dropped and moved to Hulu instead. Its reasons are targeted towards the fact that the show's themes of sexuality are not suitable for Disney’s young target demographic.  

Love, Victor’s first season aired on Hulu. Its second season has recently been renewed by the OTT network. 

Watch the subtly raunchy and fun teaser trailer for the show here.

Jane the Virgin 

Out of the four series highlighted in this list, Jane the Virgin is likely the most popular and well-known title on this list. It's a Golden Globe-winning series that aired its complete five-season run. It catapulted the career of star Gina Rodriguez as the title character Jane Gloriana Villanueva. It's all well deserved, as the show is a fun, comedic satire of telenovelas that follows Jane who accidentally gets artificially inseminated. This leads to a plot with constant twists and turns with a colourful cast of characters. Like all the other shows mentioned, the series is authentic to the Latinx experience, this one focusing on a Venezuelan family and their ups and downs as a family. The series became a huge success due to its rom-com fantasy elements that hook the viewers in from the very start. It has all the tropes of classic telenovelas such as evil twins, fake deaths, a spicy narrator every episode and more. The series would not have worked had it not created an identity of its own, as the homages all work into a perfect blend but never losing sight of its lovable characters and heartwarming moments that make the show so enjoyable to consume. Gina Rogriguez as Jane is incredible in every scene she’s in. She brings a level of warmth, kindness and fiery passion that makes her so relatable and easy to fall in love with. It has a bright colour palette in its wardrobe and the luscious setting. The pitch-perfect genre blend is all the reason why it became the success that it is and a perfect telenovela ending to a list all about the best Latinx shows you need to watch.

All five seasons of Jane the Virgin are available to stream now on Netflix. 

Watch the series trailer here.