TV’s Past, Present, and Future Has No Latinos

No Latinos in TV

I was enjoying these two series, Gen V on Prime and Quantum Leap on Peacock, and was surprised to realize that these two Sci-Fi series have no Latinos. In a universe that can be anything, we are nonexistent. Gen V has two African-American lead characters and two Asian Americans, one of them a non-binary character. Quantum Leap has two Asian Americans, one African American, and a non-binary character. This is great representation and it looks like they were thoughtful when they chose the cast. But still, they overlooked Latinos as a whole.

Take Quantum Leap, a remake of the original with the premise that physicist Sam Beckett leaps into people from the past “to make right what once was wrong.” That should give them plenty of opportunities to fix their representation issues. And yes, in one episode, he leaps into Latina – but we don’t even see her in a mirror. He normally looks at the person he’s become so we can glimpse them. The Latina character doesn’t have that luck – we just hear her Spanish name. In this chapter, he’s in Tucson and no one is a Latino. I lived one year in Tucson and everyone was Latino.

And it’s not just Tucson. Pew Research concluded that there were 62.5 million Latinos in the United States in 2021, accounting for approximately 19% of the total U.S. population. The 2020 Census found that the Latino population is the second-most prevalent group across the entire continental United States and the fastest-growing “minority” group. Spanish is the second most common language spoken in a lot of regions.

And it’s not just Sci-Fi. The Shondaland Universe, including the beloved Bridgerton, lacks Latino representation, including among the current cast of Grey’s Anatomy, which lost the fantastic Sara Ramirez and Jeanine Mason.

No Latinos in the latest season of Grey's Anatomy (unless you count Harry Shum Jr. who was born in Costa Rica but doesn't play a Latino character)
There are no Latinos in the latest season of Grey’s Anatomy (unless you count Harry Shum Jr. who was born in Costa Rica but doesn’t play a Latino character)

Quantum Leap, The Boys, Gen V, Bridgerton, Grey’s Anatomy, and so many others are missing the depth and character Latinos bring. So if you’re seeking Latino representation, let me recommend, Leguizamo Does America. In it, John Leguizamo explores how we are part of the fabric of the USA, giving us the examples we need of real-life Latinos who’ve overcome obstacles and set examples for all of us dreamers.

His show is few and far between, despite how so many organizations that working on increasing Latino representation. I am grateful to them and all the wonderful people that came before us. And we need to do more.

We must write about it, post about it, and march about it. We must demand to see ourselves in political leadership, corporate leadership, and on screen. We need to shout that we belong and be part of all the conversations.

I felt proud to call myself Puerto Rican when I saw a megastar, wrestler, singer, author, composer, model, brand maker, designer, and millionaire Bad Bunny make an SNL episode mostly in Spanish. Bad Bunny advanced Puerto Rican inclusion beyond anything I could have imagined and he makes it look fun. He is so loved in the Archipelago that even senior citizens dance to him in Zumba Classes. I don’t agree with everything he does but I am grateful for his trailblazing. No one would think a Latino trap singer would become a Gucci spokesperson.

In that SNL episode, several of the skits were only things a Latino could (or should) do. My favorite was the one with Pedro Pascal, playing a Latina mom. Bad Bunny is the aunt and together, they try to explain to the white girlfriend of the Latino son (Marcello Hernández) that he can’t have depression. I almost died laughing when Pedro Pascal takes the Danish cookies the girlfriend brought and throws them in the trash, replacing them with thread and needles. It was funny and amazing because, while he is Chilean and I am Puerto Rican, we have the same experience with mothers and sewing kits – we share a lot of experience. For that little time, Latinos were finally center stage, live from New York and then part of the national conversation.

Bad Bunny’s SNL should be just the beginning. The Oscars, Golden Globes, and other awards should have Latinos in every category. We should have a Latina President, Latina Congressmembers, Governors, Mayors, Judges, Statespersons, and Diplomats in proportion to our numbers in the population.

And most important because he was robbed this year – Pedro Pascal should be People’s Sexiest Man Alive.

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