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AWAY (L to R) RAY PANTHAKI as RAM ARYA and HILARY SWANK as EMMA GREEN, in episode 109 of AWAY. Cr. DIYAH PERA/NETFLIX © 2020

At latinamedia.co, we don’t care what white guys think. Not about movies, TV, or politics. It’s not that they never have good ideas, it’s just that we’re so tired of hearing their perspective, particularly on things that are not meant for them. So when a show is made for us – for Latinas, for women, for Latinx folks – we want to know what our community has to say about it, not the white guys who usually sound off. And we think you do too. That’s why we created this series, “What Latina Critics Have to Say.” ¡Disfruta!

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Cruising Rotten Tomatoes, you’d think the only people with opinions on Hilary Swank’s Away are dudes with names like “Ben,” “Brian,” and “Bill.” Seriously, on their main page for the show, there were four times as many men whose names start with B (and I didn’t cheat and count the “Robert”) than there are women, let alone women of color, when we checked. These bros give the woman-led show a measly “critic score” of 54. But women like space/STEM/astronauts too. Hell, we might even be the intended audience for Away. So what do women critics have to say? And by “women” we mean Latinas, obvi:

AWAY (L to R) HILARY SWANK as EMMA GREEN in episode 101 of AWAY Cr. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2020

TV Review: Netflix’s Away Is The Grey’s Anatomy of Space

As people who want to live in Shondaland, we get everything we need to know about Away from the Dianda Reviews It All headline (we’re in!). Specifically, she writes, “The heart of Away is what keeps you hooked long enough to see it grow and become the show it wants to be; a realistic, grounded reflection… that everyone struggles, everyone dreams, and, in that, everyone is everyone.” Read Diandra’s full review.

AWAY (L to R) VIVIAN WU as LU WANG, MARK IVANIR as MISHA POPOV, HILARY SWANK as EMMA GREEN, RAY PANTHAKI as RAM ARYA, and ATO ESSANDOH as DR. KWESI WEISBERG-ABBAN in episode 101 of AWAY. Cr. DIYAH PERA/NETFLIX © 2020

In Netflix’s Away, Hilary Swank’s Gotta Leave This Doomed Earth to Save This Doomed Earth

Laura Bradley over at the Daily Beast also has lots of positive things to say about Away. She writes, “Enter Netflix’s Away—a gripping drama that embraces this galaxy of thematic potential while also grounding its action in reality. Oh, and its lead is a powerful, multi-faceted Hilary Swank—whose tenacity brings the show’s stakes to life in visceral, at times unsettling ways.” Want more reasons to watch? Check out her full review.

AWAY (L to R) BRIAN MARKINSON as GEORGE LANE and GABRIELLE ROSE as DARLENE in episode 101 of AWAY Cr. DIYAH PERA/NETFLIX © 2020

Why Netflix’s Away Finale Will Actually Make You Feel Better For Once

And for those ready for spoilers, Refinery29’s Ariana Romero breaks down Away’s finale, saying why it’s the show we need now, “When you listen to [showcreator] Hinderaker speak, it seems inevitable that the Atlas crew can get through anything if they continue to support each other. That message is a much needed emotional balm during our divided times.” Read her full coverage.

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Julie and the Phantoms

At latinamedia.co, we don’t care what white guys think. Not about movies, TV, or politics. It’s not that they never have good ideas, it’s just that we’re so tired of hearing their perspective, particularly on things that are not meant for them. So when a show is made for us – for Latinas, for women, for Latinx folks – we want to know what our community has to say about it, not the white guys who usually sound off. And we think you do too. That’s why we’ve launched this new series, “What Latina Critics Have to Say.” ¡Disfruta!

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We can’t help but root for Netflix’s Julie and the Phantoms. This import from Brazil (it’s a remake of Julie e os Fantasmas) stars Boricua Madison Reyes, singing and dancing and reminding us of  the High School Musical stars of old. We wish more Latinas, and particularly Afrolatinas, were paid to review the show but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate those who were:

Julie and the Phantoms

Everything We Know About Julie and the Phantoms Season 2

Over at Seventeen, Tamara Fuentes calls Julie and the Phantoms a “gem of a series” and summarizes it like this, “Julie and the Phantoms is Kenny Ortega’s latest hit and the High School Musical and Descendants creator is taking things to the next level with his brand new series.” Find out more by reading her full article.

Julie and the Phantoms

Kenny Ortega’s New Show Julie And The Phantoms Has Ghosts, Music, And Teen Drama — Here’s What Happens In The First Episode

Evelina Zaragoza Medina writes up the show in true BuzzFeed fashion – with lots of gifs and images. Our favorite quote of hers: “Music? A Latinx lead? A ghost rock band?? That’s too many good things to ignore, so I checked out the pilot.” Check out her listicle.

JULIE AND THE PHANTOMS (L to R) JEREMY SHADA as REGGIE, MADISON REYES as JULIE, OWEN JOYNER as ALEX, and CHARLIE GILLESPIE as LUKE in episode 106 of JULIE AND THE PHANTOMS Cr. KAILEY SCHWERMAN/NETFLIX © 2020

Julie and the Phantoms Review – Ghosts, Grunge and 90s Nostalgia

Ellen E. Jones of the Guardian made us feel old with this glowing review: “Netflix might just be on to something with Julie and the Phantoms, a sweet show carefully confected to unite every post-Saved By the Bell generation of TV-watching teens, from the My So Called Lifers (now in their 40s) to the High School Musical heads (late 20s).” Read her whole review.

JULIE AND THE PHANTOMS (L to R) JEREMY SHADA as REGGIE, OWEN JOYNER as ALEX, MADISON REYES as JULIE, and CHARLIE GILLESPIE as LUKE in episode 101 of JULIE AND THE PHANTOMS Cr. KAILEY SCHWERMAN/NETFLIX © 2020

Boricua Rising Star Madison Reyes Rocks the Lead in Netflix’s Julie and the Phantoms

Really, we can’t say enough about Reyes’s talent and Jhoni Jackson writing for Remezcla agrees, “Reyes embodies singer-songwriter Julie in the 9-episode series… Reyes stood out to [creator Kenny Ortega] as more than just a natural fit, but also the absolute ideal—despite having zero prior TV or film credits—among a nationwide talent search.” Read her full coverage.

JULIE AND THE PHANTOMS (L to R) JADAH MARIE as FLYNN, MADISON REYES as JULIE, CHARLIE GILLESPIE as LUKE, OWEN JOYNER as ALEX, and JEREMY SHADA as REGGIE in episode 102 of JULIE AND THE PHANTOMS Cr. EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX © 2020

Netflix’s Julie and the Phantoms Is FANTASTIC!

On her YouTube channel, Kristen Maldonado can’t stop talking about the songs, declaring “Another huge highlight of the show for me was the music… Not only are [the songs] catchy, they also really reflect the moments that our characters are dealing with, the issues that they’re going through, the situations they’re in. I thought it was just spot on.” Watch her full review.

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Five Hopes for the Third Season of “Charmed”

Are shows starting to film again? The Conners is back in production,The Witcher is filming in London. With so many seasons cut short last TV year, the one show that keeps pulling on my imagination is the CW’s Latinx reboot of Charmed.

The first season of Charmed was fantastic, led by Jane the Virgin showrunner Jennie Snyder Urman. The powers that be didn’t love it though and they rebooted the reboot in the second season with new showrunners, a new setting, and a new vibe. Just one problem — it didn’t work. And I’m not the only one in Charmed fandom who noticed.

That said, the second season was starting to turn around. They were beginning to comment on the stale setting of a co-working space (yawn) by critiquing the extremely wealthy techie who owns it. It turns out that type of power messes you (and the rest of the world) up. There were more nods and interest taken in the Latinx/POC casting with Melissa’s dad Ray becoming a more fleshed-out character. But there’s still a long way to go. So here are some ideas (I’m giving them away for free!) on how to make the third season of Charmed, well, good again:

1. Make it About More

Charmed

I love brujas as much (really a lot more) than just about anyone but the magical universe of Charmed just isn’t enough if it doesn’t acknowledge our current reality. The first season tackled rape culture and identity issues while the second season… didn’t. So for the third season, may I suggest something topical? I’m not usually one to root for Coronavirus programming but Charmed is perfectly set up to handle it. What if the pandemic resulted from the season two collision of the magical world and the human one? Can’t you imagine a Trump-like demon delighting in their destruction? Wouldn’t it be AMAZING to see three brown and Black women save us by working together? Pay attention CW and make my dreams come true!

2. Ditch Abby

Abby of Charmed

Maggie’s ex’s half-sister has to go. Her connection to the Charmed Ones is tenuous (did you follow all those degrees of separation?) and her (love) interest in Harry makes no sense (he’s just boring). She’s not a good foil to “good-girl” Macy either, who has literal demon blood. There’s enough difference between the three sisters — we don’t need a fourth lady in the mix. With her whiteness (she’s so white, she’s British!), Abby takes over, commanding far too much attention. Add in the misogynistic way they portray her bisexuality (here for male consumption!) and there’s nothing redeeming about Abby. I, for one, am ready to say goodbye!

3. Give Harry a Personality

Harry of Charmed

As the stuffy chair of the women’s studies department, Harry had quirks, jokes, and a personality. In season two, he’s got nothing. He doesn’t bake. He has no interests and no back story (his memories have been whipped so I guess there’s some rationale for the lack of complexity…). But the fact that Abby and Macy fight over him is beyond belief. He’s walking white bread. Now a nerdy, good white guy can be fun but he can’t be all earnest looks and skinny jeans. Make Harry have a personality again, perhaps by re-merging him with his dark-lighter and giving him back his memories. That would certainly set him up to be more interesting. Just don’t get confused — he’s not the focus (and take him off the stupid posters while you’re at).

4. Keep Ray Around

Ray of Charmed

I enjoyed Ray’s episode, his role as the well-meaning but fumbling Latino Dad. He brought complexity to Maggie and Mel’s relationship, revealing a bit of their childhood and how they responded differently to the same situation. More than that, it allowed our Latina heroines to relax in the way you only can with your gente. They’re mostly in mixed spaces and while I appreciate that, it’s nice to have some moments with people who know where you’re coming from. Plus, Felix Solis’s comedic timing is just a joy.

5. Focus on the Sisters

Charmed Sisters Hugging

So in conclusion, make Charmed about its three WOC stars. Really that’s it. If the show’s team can acknowledge, understand, and dramatize the ways women of color exist in this world we’ll have compelling TV again. I’m talking badass women who save the world with our natural and supernatural abilities, working together, even as we disagree. If that’s hard for this team to imagine (and it was for the second season’s team, hence all the time spent with Abby and Harry), then hire some new folks! Get some Black and brown women in there. Let us tell our own fairytales already.

This story has been corrected. A previous version mixed up the sisters’ names. All those M’s…

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Lyn from "Vida" and Alexis from "Schitt's Creek"

We women are rewarded for being pretty, especially a particular, male-identified, cis, hetero type of pretty — skinny, long hair, etc. It’s the sort of look that gets you lots of compliments and Instagram followers. It’s a look that’s wildly overrepresented on TV, even when it makes no logical sense (how did those residents of Seattle Grace find time to get their hair blown out?!?!).

Of course, there’s been push back. And thanks to it, we have more women of different sizes, more definitions of beauty than ever before. But the “pretty girl” type persists as an ideal we’re all supposed to strive for. That’s why I loved the arcs of Alexis Rose in Schitt’s Creek and Lyn Hernandez in Vida — they expose the myth of the pretty girl by centering her perspective.

It may sound counterintuitive, what with how often we see them, but pretty girls don’t usually get to be the heroes of their own stories. They can be beautiful, unknowable objects (a la Margot Robbie in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), vapid narcissists who deserve a little humiliation (one million seasons of America’s Next Top Model and its clones), or corpses over which men can learn things or hatch revenge plots (see nearly every procedural ever). But something new is happening on Schitt’s Creek and Vida — pretty girls are getting an interior life and it’s more interesting, funny, and feminist than we could have imagined.

Alexis and Lyn both start their shows as the pretty ideal. They fit the type and have gotten the rewards in terms of men’s attention and society’s validation. In most shows, that’d be it. They’d be a love interest or foil. But in Schitt’s Creek and Vida, we see what it’s like to live in their strappy sandals and it turns out, it’s very limiting. The “rewards” of pretty-dom come with serious downsides — relying on men for validation, having to change who you are for your partner of the hour, only having a surface-level understanding of who you are.

And both Lyn and Alexis are not happy. They don’t have to reject prettiness, but they do have to find things to value about themselves outside of their looks (and ability to attract rich men). Lyn’s journey is about learning to value her aesthetic point of view, run the bar, and find a core to herself that’s not selfish or superficial. Alexis goes back to high school, gets her associates, starts a company, and re-negotiates her relationship to men, starting to see them as actual people, not cash machines or status boosters.

I’d love to talk about the ways Lyn and Alexis are similar all day. I’d love to just talk about women and how far we’ve come. But there’s a problem. You see Annie Murphy’s Alexis Rose is white and Melissa Barrera’s Lyn Hernandez is not and their paths diverge in all the sorry, frustrating, predictable ways you can imagine. Murphy got that Emmy nomination and Barrera didn’t. Likewise, Schitt’s Creek is getting all this critical love and touted as a “universal” story that’s changing the world. And it is a great show! A ‘universal’ (whatever that means) show! But so is Vida.

In fact, the two shows have a lot of similarities in addition to their deconstructing the ideal of the pretty girl. They both focus on very specific communities and don’t really venture out of them — Schitt’s Creek has its rural Canadian town and Vida has Boyle Heights. Both have a fish-out-of-water premise with our heroes landing in those communities as outsiders and having to adjust their identities accordingly. Both shows are unapologetically queer and have been lauded for that prospective. Both are really great. One also just happens to be white.

And to the white folks go the prizes even when Lyn’s very latinaness is part of what makes her so groundbreaking. Women of color are even less likely to have our agency portrayed on-screen than our white counterparts and when you throw in sexuality, it gets even more fraught. Women of color are portrayed as the outside temptresses, the other women, the ones with the destructive sexuality that threatens the white family (see the conservative uproar over WAP, like it had anything to do with them). Or we’re sexless mammies come to nurture you or make you laugh (from Gone with the Wind to Bridesmaids). Lyn is none of those things — she’s a flawed Chicana who’s learning to be better, to trust herself, to make her own definition of success. As such she’s just as, if not more, interesting/hilarious/important than Alexis. I just wish she’d be recognized as such.

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How Do You Solve A Problem Like the Emmys?

The Emmys (and Hollywood in general) has a race problem — even if the 2020 nominations are a step in the right direction. People of color are FINALLY represented in every major category with Black women earning the majority of spots in “Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie!”

In fact, Black people are overrepresented in this year’s actor nominations, earning a third of the nominations despite making up just 13% of the US population. And I, for one, think it’s about time. Black people have created much of American culture with little to no recognition since at least the invention of jazz. And if you look at the Emmy nominations historically, we’ll need MANY more years like this one before we get anywhere close to that 13% (which really should be more, because of the legacy of Black artists — see above).

There’s just one problem: No Latinxs or Latinx shows (Pose was mightily overlooked) were nominated this year. And in the history of the Emmys, only one afrolatino has won — Jharrel Jerome’s barrier-breaking win — and we didn’t see more Afrolatinx artists nominated this year. Sandra Oh is representing all Asian people AGAIN in the major categories and while I’ll love her forever, that just isn’t right (for example, Asian men exist!).

So how do you solve a problem like the Emmys? Well, let’s start with something that should be obvious — you don’t go around competing for the “minority” spot. I have no interest in non-Black Latinxs actors taking nominations from other people of color, particularly AfroLatinx and Black actors and artists who had to fight harder to get where they are and have been opening up doors for the rest of us. Anti-blackness is real and wrong, wherever it shows up. No, instead, we non-Black Latinx folks need to work with a BIPOC coalition to advance representation behind the camera, as cultural gatekeepers, and on-screen. Here’s how it should work:

Behind the Camera

Let’s celebrate queens like Shonda Rhimes. She’s BEEN lifting up all our stories

We need to shout from the rooftops for Cheryl L. Bedford’s Women of Color Unite, the largest group of women of color in film and television. Did you know they recently teamed up with the Bitch Pack for #StartWith8Hollywood, creating the largest diversity and inclusion initiative in the industry? Let’s thank them, support, and sign up!

For Latinx-specific group’s like L.A. CollabLatinx Directors, and NALIP, we need to ensure ALL of the Latinx community is represented if anything over-indexing Black and LGBTQ folks to ensure we’re not just creating more mess (aka white supremacism) as we go. These programs are good but, of course, the main thing we need is for BIPOC to get hired behind the camera so we can recognize more of our own AND authentically represent our experiences. Let’s get (at least) proportional representation as studio executives, writers, and directors. Then, we’ll really be getting somewhere.

As Cultural Gatekeepers

Ava DuVernay’s “A Wrinkle in Time” was famously panned by white male critics. But it wasn’t about (or for) them FOR ONCE

One of the reasons that hasn’t happened is because of institutions like the Emmys. Part of me wants to throw these awards shows out but the truth is, they do help determine who gets a project greenlighted and how big of a budget goes with it. So if we have to play, then let’s get on some more even footing. TV and film criticism is also largely a white, male game and that’s got to change (obvi — that’s why we created latinamedia.co). Rotten Tomatoes has tried to include more BIPOC women but we still need more (from them and major newsrooms across the country). Hire us, pay us, and recognize us. In the meantime, let’s storm the academies (televisionfilmwhatever) and make sure new members are overwhelmingly BIPOC. Apply if you’re eligible!

On-Screen

We agree with Issa Rae — we’re rooting for everyone Black!

As we move the needle off-screen, we’ll get more, more diverse, and more meaningful representation on screen. This is the final product we all get to consume. Think InsecureVidaFresh Off the Boat. For too long, these stories have been ignored in favor of plain white ones, and in too many cases, that’s still happening. Think about which shows get canceled (without marketing) and which get nominated for awards. But also think about what these shows mean to you now and what having Spider-verse or The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia would have meant to young you. Imagine it. And then help make it happen for everyone.

This piece has been updated. An earlier version implied Sandra Oh was the only Asian nominee when she is the only Asian actor nominated in a major category.

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10 Latinx Stars That Should be Nominated for an Emmy

We’re disappointed but we’re not surprised. Yet again 2020 is another year with no Latinx people getting Emmy nominations. It’s not that we haven’t tried – 2019 featured some amazing talent. From MJ Rodriguez’s iconic role as Blanca in the critically acclaimed Pose to Julissa Calderon’s stand out performance in Gentified, this year was filled with nuanced and heartfelt performances.

Even though these Latinas haven’t been nominated, we decided to celebrate them anyway. Here are the 10 Latinx stars that were robbed this year.   

MJ Rodriguez, Pose

For two seasons MJ Rodriguez has shined in the role of Blanca, showing us that chosen family is everything. The fact that her iconic performance hasn’t been recognized is simply wrong. It’s hard to think of other characters on TV that are more important than Blanca at this moment.

Rita Moreno, One Day At A Time

Speaking of icons, Rita Moreno clearly needs no introduction. For decades she’s graced us with her presence on the big screen and is still the only Latina to have won an Oscar and that was in 1961. However the Emmys seemed to have forgotten how to recognize greatness. Her role on One Day At a Time deserves an Emmy period. 

Melissa Barrera, Vida

Melissa Barrera’s Lyn has gone through quite the transformation over the course of Vida’s three seasons. In the latest installment, we were particularly impressed with how she expressed vulnerability and change while staying true to her core. Truly, an award-winning performance.

America Ferrera, Superstore

Superstore, while one of the few network shows on the list, deserves our recognition because of America Ferrera and her character Amy Sosa. As Ferrera explains “I just love that Amy doesn’t care if you like her. That’s so liberating for a female character to sort of walk around and say, ‘I don’t need you to smile at me. I’m just trying to get through the day.’ And she started in a place of really just trying to survive.”  

Ser Anzoategui, Vida

Vida is one of our favorite shows and Ser Anzoategui’s is part of the reason why. As Lyn and Emma’s mother’s not-so-secret partner, Ser has given us a character that gives us all the feels. Their acting chops are undeniable and deserve recognition. Also maybe let’s get rid of gendered categories all together? See Ser’s address to the academy

Julissa Calderon, Gentefied

Gentefied is one of our favorite new shows of 2019. Produced by America Ferrera, Gentefied gives us a world where we can see ourselves and Julissa Calderon as Yessika Flores gives Gentefied its activist center. It’s a role made for her and one that deserves recognition.

Tessa Thompson, Westworld

Tessa Thompson continues to be one of our favorite Latinx actors, from playing a badass superhero in Thor to the complex and nuanced Charlotte of Westworld. This show continues to play with the particularly relevant ideas around technology, data, and humanity. Is she a robot or human or both? Thompson is always keeping us on our toes and deserves recognition for this complex dynamic role. 

Stephanie Beatriz, Brooklyn99

While detective Rosa Diaz is one of the best parts of Brooklyn 99, we’re still hoping the show pivots from being about cops. Let’s not forget the episode that is completely dedicated to her coworkers’ challenge to get her to smile or her coming out as bisexual in season 5. 

Jessica Marie Garcia, On My Block

As Jasmine in On My Block, Jessica Maria Garcia does it all. She’s hilarious and over the top. She’s vulnerable and strong. We loved seeing her character join the center group in the third season of On My Block and really, couldn’t think of a girl with a better eyebrow game.

Rosa Bianca Salazar, Undone

In Undone, Rosa Bianca Salazar acts through a rotoscope animation effect and makes Alma more believable than most people on camera. Questioning the nature of reality, time, and space while also figuring out who you are is no small feat and Rosa never misses a beat. Give her all the awards!

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AOC Speech Reminds Us Fathers Built a Sexist World, Mothers Have Been Dismantling

After Rep. Ted Yoho’s terrible “apology” (if you can even call it that) for calling her a “fucking bitch,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to the House floor and demanded decency, not just for herself but for women everywhere, specifically as a daughter.

“Mr. Yoho mentioned that he has a wife and two daughters. I am two years younger than Mr. Yoho’s youngest daughter. I am someone’s daughter too.

My father, thankfully, is not alive to see how Mr. Yoho treated his daughter. My mother got to see Mr. Yoho’s disrespect on the floor of this house towards me on television, and I am here because I have to show my parents that I am their daughter and that they did not raise me to accept abuse from men.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

As many focus on the roles of fathers in combatting sexism, they’re missing one important part of the equation. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez didn’t just mention her father, she mentioned her mother too, bringing in the most influential figures left out of conversations on sexism. Whether your relationship with your mother is absent, painful, or wonderful, mothers are often their daughters’ first instructors when it comes to facing the world as a woman. It is often our mothers that both reinforce and break these roles for us as daughters. How many of us have heard the saying “Y qué va a decir la gente” specifically when we’ve challenged the ideas of what it means to be a respectable Latina? Whether it’s the culture of judging women who either present as too feminine or not feminine enough, speaking your mind or staying quiet, the choice to pursue a career or to stay at home, mothers are often the gatekeepers to the futures of their daughters. 

It’s easy to see why femininity is so protected when the most celebrated Latinas in our culture earn their praise through the way they embrace traditional female values, like beauty. Our mothers had few if any representations of Latinas in medicine, in politics, science, or in technology. When they saw themselves celebrated, it was usually in very traditional female roles in television, movies, and even in books. Only in 2009, did we get the first Latina, Sonia Sotomayor, appointed to serve on the Supreme Court Sonia and only in 2017 did we have the first Latina, Catherine Marie Cortez Masto, elected into the United States Senate. 

My own mother was one of four Latinas out of a hundred students in her dental class at UCSF. In high school, a teacher told her she wasn’t smart enough to be in an advanced biology class. When my grandmother, who never had the privilege of finishing middle school, heard what had happened, she confronted that teacher demanding that my mother be put into the class with the predominantly white students.  

Yet, when my mom expressed an interest in becoming a dentist, my grandmother wasn’t as encouraging. She suggested nursing as an alternative, believing it was a more realistic option for a woman, especially Latina interested in medicine. In college, my mother was also told by a professor that she would never be a dentist but that she would make a great secretary. My grandmother believed strongly her daughter was entitled to an education but because of the sexist racist world she was raising my mother in, she wanted my mother to be realistic. This is how our mothers navigate the world for us, recognizing the limitations and fighting anyway. For generations of mothers, our ancestors have pushed us forward so we could dream, what our mothers couldn’t even imagine.  

While fathers are essential in combating a sexist American culture, our mothers teach us what sexism is and give us the tools to dismantle it. It’s through our mothers not our fathers, that we inherit both the rules and limitations of sexism. The keys to breaking the cycle and pushing us forward lies in the matriarchal line. Rep. Yoho really could not have less to do with it. 

Because of her mother, Blanca Ocasio-Cortez, AOC, can be seen and celebrated for her intellect and ability to lead. In every way, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez represents the culmination of generations of Latinx mothers who fought back against the misogynistic culture. She is educated, determined, and creating a space for all the Latinx girls who were ever told they were too “much.” 

“I could not allow my nieces, I could not allow the little girls that I go home to, I could not allow victims of verbal abuse, and worse, to see that. To see that excuse, and see our Congress accept it as legitimate and accept it as an apology and to accept silence as a form of acceptance. I could not allow that to stand.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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It’s Time to Cancel the Cop Show

Black Lives Matter. At latinamedia.co, we know the media is part of the problem, perpetuating false myths about police, BIPOC communities, and violence. We took a moment to focus on uplifting Black voices and now our co-founders are back, talking about Hollywood’s dangerous obsession with the cop-as-hero narrative and what we’d like to see instead.

CRISTINA: The myths of America are breaking. Those of us in communities of color have known of these fractures for a long time. After all, who’s uninsured? Who was left out of the boom economy? Who do cops kill without fear of facing consequences? So while we’ve known, that doesn’t mean the myth of America as a world power, a place of opportunity, a land of laws hasn’t remained strong. We’ve seen it everywhere and when that narrative is in the water, it can feel like you’re the crazy one for thinking otherwise. The “mainstream” (aka white) culture has been gaslighting us.

NICOLA: The media’s shock and disbelief about this moment is the wrong tone. State violence has been happening in the “USA” since 1776 – this country was founded and built by colonizers and slaveowners. It shouldn’t surprise anyone. We haven’t reckoned with our racist foundation in a meaningful way. America has been using bandaids, when we need surgery. We need big structural changes in our schools, where we work, and in the media we consume.    

America has been using bandaids, when we need surgery.

CRISTINA: You know, we started latinamedia.co to push back on the ways Hollywood undermines POC perspectives and lift up the rich, alternative discourse of Brown and Black artists. It seems like we need that work desperately now and I hope one genre we can forever change is the cop show. There are so many of them! And with a few notable exceptions, the general narrative is cop-as-hero and that’s just not what cops actually do.

Think about SVU. I’d love to live in an alternate universe where cops care about sexual assault, don’t perpetuate it themselves, and a fierce, survivor, policewoman is answering the call to justice. That’s just not reality. Reality is the rape kit backlog. Cops sexually harassing civilians with impunity. Survivors not reporting because they have no reason to believe the system will help them, #MeToo or not. SVU is a fun fantasy but perhaps it’s a dangerous one. Does watching it keep us complacent? Do we layer its narrative over reality and figure someone like Olivia Benson is handling the problem of sexual violence (actress Marisha Hargitay is working to end the rape-kit backlog)? These broken systems are all of our problems and as Roxane Gay has been saying, we have to save ourselves.

NICOLA: Police forces were never built to protect BIPOC communities. So even shows that are self-aware, hilarious, and prioritize representation like Brooklyn 99 have a major blindspot. We can no longer laugh at Jake Peralta, without seeing the harm that police have done to communities and continue to do. And as much as I love seeing fierce Latinx leads like Rosa and Amy, they’re representation on TV is not worth perpetuating the harmful narrative that NYC cops are not just funny donut eating caricatures. 

Police have been basically ordered to protect property and white lives above anything else and there is no fun loving “good” police utopia that can change that.   

SVU is a fun fantasy but perhaps it’s a dangerous one. Does watching it keep us complacent?

CRISTINA: The representation thing is the cop shows’ best quality – in many ways, they’ve been important avenues for BIPOC representation. We’re talking ensemble shows with diverse casts. Of course, usually, the lead character is a white guy, but not always! JLo herself had a cop show. Remember Denzel Washington in Training Day? That’s an interesting one because it finally shows a cop as a villain, but, of course, he’s black, corrupting the young, idealistic white guy. Yikes! And that’s the role Denzel gets the Oscar for. We’re talking all sorts of problematic

This year’s Hightown featured a gay Latina in Monica Raymond’s Jackie Quiñones, but the show 1. keeps reminding us that she’s not a “real” cop (she works in Marine fishing) and 2. Undermines her by contrasting her with a “real,” white cop who we’re supposed to sympathize with but who sucks (he sleeps with ALL his CIs but is nice to their kids, so I guess we’re supposed to root for him?!?! Umm no. That “grey” line is called sexual assault).

NICOLA: Color of Change released a detailed study “Normalizing Injustice: The Dangerous Misrepresentations That Define Television’s Scripted Crime Genre,” earlier this year. They really spell out the problem with these shows that even though inclusive are deeply problematic. 

“Despite the fact that widespread racial disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system are well-documented and well recognized, scripted television series focused on crime—some of the most popular and influential shows on TV today—do not depict the reality, causes or consequences of these disparities accurately. If that is true, then these series, and perhaps the genre as a whole, may be a driver of pervasive misperceptions and attitudes about safety, crime, punishment, race and gender among the tens of millions of people potentially influenced by sustained exposure to these series.”

This study was released in January this year, before the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade by police. We know the power of narratives, especially those that have been told on television. According to Variety, last year more crime shows were among  the top 100 most watched than any other genre. Cops and crime are America’s favorite. 

Cops and crime are America’s favorite.

CRISTINA: Yes, we watch a lot of these shows and  we’re used to seeing cops in a particular way, of watching narratives that show them upholding our society. That’s why it’s so hard to imagine what defunding the police even looks like. We have almost no examples. There’s not exactly a lot of social-worker shows out there. The only thing that comes close is Parks and Rec and I mean sit with that for a moment. Imagine Leslie Knope solving society’s problems rather than Lennie Briscoe. Doesn’t that sound like a better world?

NICOLA: I mean yes! There are so many workplaces that have never gotten their time on screen and are equally exciting/ridiculous. As someone, who’s worked at several nonprofits, let me offer them up as an ideal place for the half-hour comedy. I would love to see Brooklyn 99 magically transform into NYC ‘slatest 501c3 as they battle to see who can be the wokest non-profit in Brooklyn. Or depict fundraiser kerfuffles where the highest donor is accidentally fed a gluten meal. Or a team meeting where they suddenly realize their latest campaign has an inappropriate acronym. 

CRISTINA: Yes! Imagine if instead of SVU, we had a domestic violence/sexual assault advocate show. You could still have the crime-of-the-week structure and the office-politics drama. But instead of cops, the heroes would be caseworkers, counselors, and forensic nurses. Grey’s Anatomy did an episode like that, envisioning another narrative and support system around assault. Imagine if that was on every week!

NICOLA: I can’t wait to see how TV rises to the challenge and what emerges after they cancel their crime centric seasons. Do we get a drama about teens working shitty retail jobs? A show about battling boba shops? A reality TV show about celebrity dog walkers? Police shows are just simply unnecessary, kind of like cops themselves.

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From Dolores to Shirley, Mrs. America Centers the Wrong Story

A stylistic period piece, Mrs. America delves into the debate over the Equal Rights Amendment. Everything about this show oozes beauty, from the perfectly quaffed hair of Phyllis Schlafly’s followers, to Gloria Steinem’s glasses, to Shirley Chisholm’s graphic jacket-dress ensembles, but good television should be about more than just the nostalgia for its time period. And that’s where Mrs. America falls short.

Following the example set by Bombshell, Mrs. America makes the mistake of centering the life and history of a conservative white woman. Don’t get me wrong I love Cate Blanchett and her performance as Phyllis Schlafly is as smart and nuanced as we have come to expect from Blanchett as an actor. I believe the fault lies with the creators of the show and in a way, I can’t even place the blame completely on their shoulders.

In a time where intersectional feminism seems to be at the center of every diversity conversation, t-shirt, and tote bag, many television and movie projects miss the mark. Certainly,  the execution and practice of this theory has a little to be desired. A 2019 study by USC Annenberg found that across a sample of 1,300 films, the number of people of color in lead or co-lead roles was only 17%. And only 4.5% of all 47,268 speaking or named characters across the past 12 years were Latino, as were a mere 3% of lead or co-lead actors. I doubt when Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term “intersectional feminism” she was thinking of tote bags but that’s what it’s been distilled to, disconnected from its original meaning and easy to obtain. 

When there are nine episodes of Mrs. America and only one focuses on a woman of color, is that truly capturing the feminist movement? I argue not only does it miss the mark, it continues to perpetuate a dangerous narrative that feminism is for and by white women. Shirley Chisholm, played beautifully by Uzo Aduba, was not the only woman of color in congress working to pass the ERA. The fact that the show uses Chisholm and two other activists as the token characters delegated to supporting roles as opposed to Cate Blanchett’s Schlafly is, to put it simply, a mistake.

Mrs. America features Flo Kennedy, played by Niecy Nash, and Margaret Sloan-Hunter, played by Bria Samoné Henderson, both important and influential feminist activists. But neither of them receive their own episodes. In fact, the only Black editor at Ms. Magazine, Margaret is the only the second BIPOC character, other than Shirley Chisholm, who has received her own storyline. We watch her ideas get sidelined, questioned, and overlooked as she pitches a story about tokenism in the workplace. Margaret says in the meeting, “This phenomenon that happens where one minority is propped up to cover the experience of an entire population. Like the white population, we are diverse within ourselves.” The ironic part is the creators didn’t take their own message to heart.

The inclusion of Shirley Chisholm, Flo Kennedy, Margaret Sloan-Hunter, and other activists show that the writers and creators made a concerted effort to try to avoid the “white feminist” narrative pot hole. But inclusion is not enough. Feminism was founded, built, and created by queer women of color and non-binary people. To not center them in a show about the ERA feels like taking one step forward while realizing you’re on the wrong escalator.

This point is only affirmed when looking at IMDB’s list of the eleven writers and directors on the show. Only three are Black, with no Latinx or Asian writers or directors listed. This doesn’t surprise me. We know when there are diverse voices behind the camera, stories become more nuanced in their diversity. To not include Dolores Huerta, a Latina activist who helped lead the feminist movement including working with Gloria Steinem in the 60’s, continues the erasure of Latinx people in the feminist movement. To not include Patsy Matsu Takemoto, the first woman of color and first Asian-American congresswoman elected (who also helped pass Title IX and Women’s Education Equity Act in 1974), continues the erasure of Asian American people in the feminist movement. To not center Shirley Chisholm in every episode, instead of Phyllis Schlafly, continues the erasure of Black people in the feminist movement. These choices show us how far we have to go and who still holds the power. Because if Shirley Chisholm isn’t the iconic embodiment of what feminism should be, I don’t know what is.

If we are going to create shows and films to tell the untold story of the feminist movement, we need to include all feminists. Take the opportunity and challenge to show how diverse feminism is. Show the struggle that women of color and queer people went through to be accepted by the white feminist movement. These are the stories that should be front and center now. Intersectionality isn’t a fleeting theme, it’s a lens to see the invisible, to understand what’s really going on today and how we got here. Everyone who holds the strings to our culture should be using it to create media. Otherwise, we just end up with another useless metaphorical tote bag.

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Maybe Watch ‘Killing Eve’ Without Your Man Friend

There’s a secret world of women-stuff most heterosexual men have no idea about. But Killing Eve incorporates (and takes seriously) secret nods only women understand, mixing them with the James Bond-esque type of globe-trotting intrigue you might be accustomed to sharing with a dude. But like watching sex scenes with your parents, let me recommend avoiding the awkward and watching Killing Eve’s third season (out Sunday!) without your (straight) male isolation partner.

I mean, aren’t some things better left between us ladies? Take the plotline in Killing Eve’s first season where Villanelle steals Eve’s suitcase and sends it back with beautiful, sumptuous clothes that compliment Eve’s body and express her personality better than anything she owns. It manages to be the ultimate flex, compliment, and shade all at once. Villanelle is showing off her wealth and good taste, she’s demonstrating to Eve not just that she really sees and understands her but that Eve’s selling herself short. It’s a complicated message and it sets the stage for the intimate and nuanced connection that women crave and fantasize about. I don’t know any hetero relationships where such a thing would be even vaguely possible (for the woman, men get this sort of care all the time). Do you really want to have to explain why those clothes are so seductive? So dangerous? So hot?

And it’s not just the clothes (or the makeup — the razor in the lipstick was another beautifully nuanced symbol). It’s also in the way Killing Eve explores and uses food. In season two, Villanelle goes undercover as Billie to spy on tech billionaire Aaron who might be killing those in the way of his data empire (spoiler: he is!). Along the way, he develops a fascination with Villanelle but maintains his distance, treating her to several elegant meals. The catch? He sits with her and watches her eat pappardelle and more, but never so much as gets a plate himself. It’s a clear sign that he’s an evil neurotic and it says just as much about Villanelle as it does about him. What kind of woman would eat those meals by herself? Flaunt all the conventions around gender and food? And with such gusto? A psychopath!

Food may often be used as a metaphor for sex (remember those Carl’s Jr. ads?) but Killing Eve pushes the envelope by focusing on the female side of desire. Villanelle isn’t just hungry, she wants a certain kind of dining experience and she gets it without the traditional and overplayed phallic symbol. And while Villanelle’s obvious allure may seem like something you’d rather not to discuss with your man-sexy-times-person, it’s really Eve’s choices that make the whole thing unbearable awkward. She has what’s supposed to make us heterosexual women happy — a loving husband (who cooks no less) and a nice home. But all that domesticity is boring as hell when the allure of a beautiful, dangerous love object is clearly within reach. Eve tries to have both, shielding Nico from the bloody details (the stabbing) but trying to bring some of the excitement home (remember when they have sex while Eve is thinking of Villanelle and Eve thinks it’s great but Nico hates it? Yikes!). So are you ready to have a frank conversation about how marriage is a trap for most women? How most of us don’t find our fulfillment in doing the dishes and boosting a man’s ego? Yes or no?

And the list goes on from there. It’s the food, the fashion, the sex, even the violence reads differently with women as the aggressors and only sometimes the victims. We women are conditioned to see ourselves as potential victims, learning all sorts of ways to avoid male aggression. But on Killing Eve we see both feminine power unrestrained (Villanelle) and female invisibility (The Ghost) resulting in violence and the experience is… freeing? Watching Killing Eve is both scary and tantalizing at the same time. Created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (of Fleabag fame) and led by a different woman writer each season, the show mines women’s experiences, methods of communication, and worldviews to create something new and sexy and seductive. So maybe let your male partner watch it. But be prepared to have him understand you better in ways that might not be totally comfortable.

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