So I’ll admit, before watching the pilot episode for Cristela this weekend I was kind of hesitant about the new show. We’ve all been through the highs and lows of hearing about an exciting new Latino show that will be the “big hit” of the season, only to then, let’s just say, be less than impressed. For whatever reason, it seems all of the major networks have had the hardest time developing a hit show that actually resonates with the elusive US Hispanic viewing audience. It’s not that we’re apathetic. I think it’s more the reality that there is a very fine line between being too Latino and not Latino enough.
I know, that’s an oxymoron in it of itself. Still, too many shows have played the Hispanic card with very thick accents, crude grunts and “¡eys!” and “¡eses!,” instead of just talking to us like normal human beings who also happen to be Latinos. I mean don’t get me wrong, those characterizations are a part of who we are, and we all know people in our lives who have fit that identity at one point or another. The thing is not all of us talk or act like George Lopez all of the time. We just don’t.
So how do you bridge that hard-to-define-gap? In the case of Cristela, you do it by being yourself. That’s what I realized this weekend at the Festival People event I attended in San Antonio. ABC flew in comedienne and actress Cristela Alonzo to pilot her show and talk to us about how she got started. As it turns out, Cristela on screen was very much like the Cristela off screen we met. A daughter of Mexican parents who grew up in San Juan, Texas and who never imagined, she told us, that she would one day be working on her major network debut. After hearing about her humble beginnings it’s easy to understand why.
Despite the odds, however, she is currently touring in support of her self-titled series Cristela.
It’s a seriously funny show. And a family show at that. Alonzo told us that was on purpose. She wanted to create a show the entire family could sit down and watch together, and also one her own family could be proud of. The characters are based on her actual family. And from what I saw in the pilot episode I believe she has done both. The characters were lovable and tough, funny and real, and Cristela herself has a knack for hitting the right humorous chord every time. The script, which she cowrites as well, is genuine and relatable. Nothing stereotypical at all. When normally a script could have and would have predictably gone right, the writers of Cristela make a conscious decision to go left. And it’s very likely going to pay off.
The show kicks off on ABC this fall.
Here’s a little bit from Cristela on the show:
“I don’t know what the future holds but like I said earlier, everything happens for a reason. Whether this show fails or succeeds, I’m just glad I got to be on this ride…if even for a second. All I know is that I am living something that very few people get to live…and I am so grateful for that. So grateful.”