Is Samy on ‘Mira Quién Baila’ a Sign of the Times?

samy mira quien baila univision sexuality and latinos juanofwords

Is Samy introducing a new, more accepting era of Spanish-language television?

So Samy is on Mira Quien Baila this season.  “Samy from Miami” to be more precise – who knew?  That in it of itself is not really that much of a shock.  I mean what else is the Divo up to these days?  What was kind of a little eyebrow-lifting, last night, on the premiere Univision’s hit series, is just how open the once-mum-about-his-sexuality hairdresser now was about his relationship with longtime partner Alex.

The happy couple have been together for 36 years.  This was also the first time I had ever heard Samy speak so candidly about his sexuality.

Ten years ago this would never have happened.  Much less would it have been aired on Univision or Telemundo, on prime time, for that matter.  Hell, not even a couple of years ago would this have likely happened… I don’t think.

So, what does that say about us?

Are we more accepting now of different lifestyles?  Are we finally at the point as a US Spanish-language television watching audience where we can view same sex partners in a different, less slapstick, “poking fun of” or insulting sort of way?

I guess in a way that remains to be seen… depending on how much support Samy is able to garner and how long that support is able to keep him on the show.

Could Samy quite possibly be breaking new ground?

Kudos to Lifetime for Picking Up Eva Longoria’s ‘Devious Maids’

lifetime picks up devious maids eva longoria

The stars of 'Devious Maids'.

For a brief moment it seemed nobody was going to be able to watch Eva Longoria’s Devious MaidsAfter ABC opted not to pick up the show, which the Desperate Housewives star had co-produced with her Desperate Housewives producer Marc Cherry, it appeared that might have been the end of the line for the somewhat controversial program.  Well, as it so happens, the cable network Lifetime decided the show was at least good enough for a one season trial run.  They’ve picked up 13 episodes of Devious Maids and are planning to air it in early 2013.

Now despite all of the flack Longoria has received for producing a show in which Latinas star as housemaids of all roles, I’m still kind of excited to see a pilot episode.  Why?!  Because this time it sounds like the story is going to be told from the perspective of “the help” rather than that of her employers.  If I’m not mistaken, it’s supposed to be more of a comedy… based on the Mexican telenovela Ellas son la Alegria del HogarI also think Eva’s defense of her series is pretty bad ass:

When we get any sort of backlash like that-‘Oh, they’re just playing the stereotypical maids’ – my immediate response is, ‘So you’re telling me those stories aren’t worth telling.  That those people are lesser than.  That their stories aren’t worth exploring.  That they have no complexity in their life because they’re a maid?’

The Longoria produced project will star Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty), Roselyn Sanchez (Without a Trace), Dania Ramirez (Heroes), and Judy Reyes (Scrubs), as well as apparently Susan Lucci.

Kudos Lifetime!  For at least giving this show a chance.  It definitely sounds a lot more compelling than Rob!

Finally! A Reality Show in Spanish I Actually Want To See!

The only problem, it doesn’t air this side of the border.  I’m talking about Mexico’s version of The Voice - appropriately titled La Voz México - and until today, I didn’t even know this show existed.  Now, ya no me aguanto las ganas that one of the major US Spanish-language networks will pick up this show so we can all watch it together.  If you’re thinking “wait, a reality show Juan – seriously?!”  Hold on a minute, hear me out.  Last season the coaches were Lucero, Espinoza Paz, Aleks Syntek and Alejandro Sanz.  All artists whose music I enjoy!  This second new season, rumor has it, the new coaches will be Paulina Rubio, Jenni Rivera, Miguel Bose and Juanes.

La Voz Mexico jenni rivera paulina rubio juanes televisa

Según las malas lenguas these are the show's new coahes.

I like all of these artists!  The premise of the show is pretty much the same as the US’s The Voice with Christina Aguilera – the judges pick a group of hopeful singers to coach and compete against one another for the ultimate title of La Voz México.  The winning musical talent earns a recording contract and other prizes, but for me, the best part of the show is watching the interaction between the coaches and their teams, as well as with one another. 

Ya sé… it’s a copy, but it sounds and looks like something very refreshing compared to all the pointless drama of Nuestra Belleza Latina.  Check out the first episode from last season (there’s a performance in there from all of the coaches together):

La Voz México 1 Parte 1 by tefyrom

Univision, Telemundo… let’s make this happen!

Why I’m Sad About Cristina’s Exit From Television

It wasn’t too long ago that Cristina Saralegui was in her prime.  She was the queen of Spanish-language television and EVERYONE – and I do mean everyone – knew who she was.  Cristina was often referred to as the “Oprah Latina” and her show, El Show de Cristina featured all the biggest names in entertainment and everything else.  Being on Cristina was like being on Oprah only in Spanish… I always assumed since I’ve never been on either show, but for entertainers, at least, it seemed like it was a milestone in their careers to make it onto Cristina.  Like a sign of sorts that they had made it, that they had arrived!

Cristina Saralegui says goodbye to television

Cristina: Then and Now!

No sé… it would have been for me.

A couple of days ago, the 30-plus year journalism veteran, announced herself that she would not be returning to Telemundo with her latest television endeavor Pa’lante Con Cristina after only one year.  Cristina very famously left her previous home at Spanish-language giant Univision a couple of years ago when reportedly her contract had not been renewed.  I guess you could say that was the beginning of the end for the Cuban American Cristina… at least on television.

I know her shows were no longer as compelling as they once were, and that for whatever reason a lot of people dislike her now, but for me, Cristina will always remain the Queen of Spanish-language television.  Thinking of her, making that signature thumb salute of hers, always puts a smile on my face.  It feels like home.  Like a part of who I am.  And a part of my identity.  Somewhere in my mind and heart there will always be a spot for Cristina.

This is how I want to remember Cristina Saralegui, the talk show host:

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Buena suerte on your new proyectos, Cristina!  ¡Pa’lante! 

Remember… ¡pa’tras ni pa coger impulso!

Raising a Bilingual Kid: Television En Español

Just the other day we were sitting at my parents house watching Sal y Pimienta.  If you’re not familiar, it’s one of those wickedly addicting and hilarious celebrity gossip shows that Univision airs regularly on their national network.  They’re hilarious because the hosts and guests on the show spend the entire hour talking crap and poking fun at anyone in the limelight, almost always taking jabs at each other too.  While it might sound pretty harsh, in truth, it’s all in good fun.  Everything is pretty much for the show, and I guess that’s what makes it work.  Pero bueno, I digress.

raising a bilingual kid connecting through spanish language television gordo y flaca

El Gordo y La Flaca

This particular Sunday, the beauty competition Nuestra Belleza Latina had just announced their winner and the Sal y Pimienta hosts were busy spitting their veneno – that’s what they like to call badmouthing – about the contestants and the judges on the show.  Anjelica and I were cracking up at some of the things they were saying, then all of the sudden El Gordo de Molina and Lili Estefan were on the screen.

Edgar sat up and this happened:

Edgar:  Hey, it’s that guy and the lady from El Gordo y La Flaca!

Me:  You know who those people are?

Edgar:  Yeah, it’s El Gordo y La Flaca.

Me:  How do you know who they are?

Anjelica:  You watch them, Edgar?

Edgar:  Yeah… I watch them sometimes with grandma.

Me and Anjelica:  (laughing and shaking our heads)

This single conversation got me thinking.  It reminded me of the many times I sat in front of the television screen with my parents watching telenovelas like Rosa Salvaje and Marimar, variety shows like Sábado Gigante, Siempre en Dómingo and El Show de Johnny Canales, even things as menial as the five o’clock and 10 o’clock newscasts in español everyday.  I did know these things had definitely had an impact on my own cultural identity and immersion, I just hadn’t really thought about how they had also helped to strengthen our familial bond.

It’s funny how even the smallest things count.

Why I’m Looking Forward to Eva Longoria’s ‘Devious Maids’

As a kid my mother used to take me to clean houses with her.  ¡Sientate aquí!  No toques nada.  Nomás juega aquí… ahorita vengo.  That’s what she would tell me before heading into the rest of somebody else’s house to do the housekeeping for them.  I wasn’t in school yet and it was always an adventure to explore all of the nice things in other people’s homes.  They had really nice sofas.  More than one and matching ones at that!  Their walls were decorated with fancy picture frames and decorations.  Their refrigerators stocked with things like bologna and cheese.  Things we could never afford at our house.  It was just fun to see so many new things at every house we visited.

eva longoria devious maids

Eva Longoria on making Latina Housemaids mainstream.

In those days, ni me daba cuenta that we were essentially the help.  I didn’t long for their belongings or wish that we had what they had, crazy as that is to believe now in hindsight.  It was more amusing to wonder why their dogs were living indoors and running around so nonchalantly.  At home, any time a cat or dog would come into the house it was always total and complete chaos.  My mother would shoo it away, we would chase after the animal trying to get it out of the house, and my father would chunk whatever he could get his hands on, while yelling ¡ey, saquen ese gato!  

“Pets belong outside, not inside… silly people,” I would think to myself as the animal in question would curl themselves around me.  It was fun to do things differently in someone else’s home.  My father wasn’t there so the same rules didn’t apply.

Later when I entered elementary school, my schoolmates, I guess you could say, were my bosses.  At least their mothers were my mother’s boss.  When we would ride the school bus home I knew which one of their houses my mother had cleaned.  They knew it too, but it was never awkward or weird.  They never made fun of me for it or even brought it up at all.  Ever!  We were friends and classmates and that’s all we cared about.  I should mention this was in the Rio Grande Valley in the late 80s, in our small little town of probably no more than a couple dozen families.  Farming was our main source of income in McCook and in a way I guess that created a sense of unity in the town.  We all had a role to play and that made everyone a part of the community.

Even my mother the maid and my father the laborer had a place.

There has never been a sense of shame in what my parents have done for work over the years.  They were working honradamente and that allowed us to put food on the table.  When we moved to Houston – I was older of course – my mother and I would canvas more affluent neighborhoods passing out fliers and asking people if they needed someone to clean their houses.  This was in middle school and high school mostly.  At this age there was a little bit more embarrassment in seeking this type work, but I avoided it mostly by making sure the neighborhoods we canvassed weren’t within the boundaries of my schools’ zoning.  As long as I didn’t have to see my schoolmates’ faces at the door of one of these houses I was fine.

Fortunately we never did.

This week, when I first heard about Eva Longoria’s upcoming show Devious Maids I was a little apprehensive about what it might be about.  I’m still not entirely sure how the show will be executed, but from this interview with Eva Longoria it sounds like it might finally be a realistic portrayal of the thousands of Latinas in the United States who earn their living cleaning other people’s houses, honradamente.  I hope so, because it’s about time we treat this archetype of a character without all of the stereotypes!  I love her defense of the show también.

The Longoria produced project is slated to air on ABC this fall and stars Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty), Roselyn Sanchez (Without a Trace), Dania Ramirez (Heroes), and Judy Reyes (Scrubs).  The show, which is being produced by “Desperate Housewives” creator Marc Cherry, will tell the story of four maids with big dreams who work for the rich and famous in Beverly Hills.

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