Family sitcoms are treasures on our screens. They teach us hard lessons in lighthearted ways, make us laugh, and draw us to heart first. One of 2022’s latest sitcoms does all this and more! HBO Max has rebooted Nickelodeon’s The Brothers Garcia under the title, The Garcias, and it follows a culturally blended family that is split between Texas and Mexico.
The Garcia family is what you might call super mezclado, with American, Korean, and Mexican cultures all under one roof. Big families having abuela, abuelo, tias, tios, y primos all living in one house is pretty common in Latine families, at least where I’m from, but the tensions get high in the Garcia house when family business, different interests, and insecurities are added!
The Garcias allows space for multiple cultures and customs to exist, from spirituality to social norms in and out of Mexico. Throughout the show, both Spanish and Korean are spoken by the characters as well as English and it feels so natural and respected within the family. I don’t speak not one bit of Korean and yet, it felt as though I hear it all the time in my own home every time Yunjin, one of the sisters-in-law and mothers within the family, switched languages.
The show also explores what it means to be a “real” Mexican and the cultural identity struggle of being “native” or “imported” within Latinidad. One of the Garcia brothers, George, is Mexican descended but born in Texas, while his wife Ana was born and raised in Mexico, and he struggles throughout the season to establish himself as a “real” Mexican, often being teased by his family and even his neighbors for it. A US accent can be heard in how the Garcia family speaks Spanish and the grandchildren rarely speak Spanish at all. Ana is the only one on the show who is an “authentic” Mexican, and yet the family is still very much a Latine and Asian family.
Generational dilution of culture is definitely a big theme in the show and affects all the characters in different ways. That dilution and identity limbo is something I’m very familiar with as a third-generation, part-Cuban living in an American city where Spanish is the first language. It’s easy to feel out of place or “not Cuban enough” but I just remind myself that I am all of my identities, wholly and equally, just as George learns by the end of the season.
I grew up living with my parents, my siblings, and abuelos all under one roof, while often times housing my tios, tias, and cousins for months at a time. If you’ve ever experienced that, you know it is the best of times, and most certainly the worst of times. For the Garcia family, even though their house is much larger than any house I ever shared with my family, their differences and lack of space still sometimes got the better of them.
It reminded me that even though family is beautiful and spending time with family is important, everyone still needs to live their own separate lives and be free to pursue their specific interests. There were moments where the characters in The Garcias blew up from pent-up tension or bottled-up feelings. They were great lessons in honesty even if it may hurt someone’s feelings and in how to create the space you need for yourself. Living all cooped up isn’t all negative though, the grandchildren get to spend priceless quality time with their grandparents and build strong bonds as cousins. And the adult siblings get to rekindle their childhood closeness and get to know their siblings-in-law better.
Despite the range of personalities and interests, and the new generation vs. the older generation, The Garcias always find a way to celebrate each other’s differences and love each other through it all. From a DJ, to an astronaut, to a historian/writer, The Garcias features a beautiful blend of interests, cultures, businesses, and ages. It shows us that people can disagree yet coexist, families can grow in different directions without growing apart, and friends can be made all across the globe. In times like these, those lessons are paramount. This is such a great watch for families of all kinds, because as Lex always says at the end of each episode, it should be ‘todo para la familia.’