Fact: I love TV. I love TV in a way that most people don't.
When I was a kid, I used to be left home a lot because everyone was out working. My mother was strict. I was never allowed to go to friend's houses or really do much of anything. I'd come home straight from school and lock myself in the house. I was a latch key kid.
Television was my friend. It really was my BEST friend growing up. I watched hours of it. I think that coming from a family where my parents were from Mexico and my siblings had lived in Mexico, I had no clue what "American" life was like. That's what I learned from TV. I learned what the "typical American family" was from shows like The Cosby Show and Roseanne. I learned about the arts by watching operas like Carmen on A&E and PBS. I learned English by watching TV.
Television was my only source of entertainment. We couldn't afford to go to the movies and my hometown didn't have touring Broadway shows coming, not that I could go to them if they did. Television was the only connection I had to the outside world till I went to college.
I watched the series premiere of ¡Rob! on CBS, the brainchild of Rob Schneider, whom I now genuinely dislike. The story is about a guy named Rob that typically marries the super, hot woman that in real life he could never get (unless he was playing Rob Schneider in the show). Here's the catch: She's Mexican (though it's played by a Spanish actress)!!! Rob is white and his wife's Mexican family has trouble accepting him! Ay carumba!
It might sound like I'm exaggerating but I cried. This show made me cry. I cried because it really hurt me to see that the only sitcom out there featuring a Mexican-American family was so terrible, so stereotypical, so awful. The fact that the ratings were decent show that there's a market out there for Latino content...we're so hungry for it, that we actually gave this a shot!
I wish I had my half hour back.
I take offense with this "show" (I use that term lightly) because of the way they depict the Mexican family. Has anyone in the writing of this show (Rob and Lew) ever met a Mexican? Is Rob's Mexican wife an orphan with no family that Rob could've consulted with?
This show came off like Rob used his marriage to his Mexican wife as an excuse to use all the stereotypes he's been collecting over the years.
I have a Jewish boyfriend and live something that's very close to the premise of ¡Rob! every day of my life. My boyfriend Steve and I have been together for over seven years.
I come from a VERY traditional Mexican family, the kind of family that is VERY common but apparently no one in Hollywood has ever heard of. When I started dating Steve, I kept it from my family for months. It was awkward. My family didn't "date" people, especially my sister and I; it's not part of the culture we're from.
My mother met my father in the Mexican village they were from. They used to write love letters and leave them under a rock for the other to find. They didn't have contact with each other. They didn't go on dates. An old tradition that existed back in the day (and in parts still does) is that a man would go and basically "kidnap" the woman he wanted to be his bride. They would elope and that's pretty much how they would marry. It happened to cousins of mine. There was no "movie night" where the teen couple go out. They would typically meet at a dance and secretly communicate with each other and got married.
Having to tell my family that I was dating Steve was difficult, not because he was white but because he was a guy, period.
When I met Steve, he was a comic in Dallas that had two jobs, one of them being a cop for a Dallas suburb. When we first talked about meeting families, I had told him that my family was very traditional. My brother-in-law speaks Spanish so it was going to be hard for Steve to talk to him (eventhough my B.I.L. understood English, he never really spoke it). Steve even joked around that he could talk to Sergio with the only Spanish he knew, which were phrases like "tienes papeles?" and "manos arriba!"
Do you think that my Mexican family had a problem with my Jewish boyfriend Steve? Hell no. Are you serious? Getting a white guy in the family felt like my family had been promoted; they were very welcoming.
What I'm trying to say is this. My family's experience with Steve is real. What people saw on "Rob" was not...and I get it. It's a TV show, it's supposed to be entertainment but how about also showing an authenticity to an ethnicity that hasn't been explored yet? Steve has never made stereotypical jokes to my family; it doesn't cross his mind. Why? Because my family is Mexican-American. Yes, we still have ties to our Mexican roots but we're also an American family. How about you stop making my people look like cartoons and at least pretend like you're putting effort into the show? Show a modern-day family.
I've said this before and I'll write it here as well: there is so much about our culture that has never been explored. If you could see some more realistic things depicted in shows about us, you'd realize that in the end everyone has a lot in common with each other. We're all different but we're all the same.
What makes me extremely sad is the fear that if this show doesn't work (and God, I hope it goes away soon) and I go in to pitch a show about a my family, I'll be turned down because ¡Rob! was so bad. I have a fear that one day I'll be told, "But your people had ¡Rob! and look at how terrible it was. People don't want a Latino sitcom." I can't tell you how many times I've met people with that kind of thinking. They talk to me about the Latino culture like we were given a chance and failed and therefore can never have a chance again.
I'm also bothered by the fact that talented cast members like Cheech Marin and Eugenio Derbez don't have a better script to work with (side note: Eugenio Derbez is a very famous Mexican sketch comedian). What a waste of talent to have to work with that garbage.
What I'm saying is this: people will laugh at gardener, Julio Iglesias, Selena references, whatever else you can think of...but let me tell you, having a TV show about a Latino family that really explores our culture, instead of exploits could be hilarious as well. Instead of Eugenio Derbez playing a character of a swarmy, illegal immigrant...how about having him be a man that was a professional in Mexico but decided to come here for a better life for his family, away from the violence, but had to resort to doing upholstery for a living (truth: I know this man that I'm talking about)? It sounds serious but if you've ever seen an episode of Roseanne you'll know that the most serious things...can also be made into the funniest.