I’m not going to lie, I was REALLY excited to see Fuller House. I even became emotional seeing it: I remember watching the show and relating to DJ and Stephanie when I was a little girl (ok, most likely NOT relating, remember my parents are Hispanic- so mostly it was “why are they allowed to do those things and I’m not??”). So to see DJ as a mom now that I’m a mom, it is pretty cool. I think that’s why a lot of people my age are loving the show.
When they announced Fuller House I decided to introduce my son to Full House which can be seen in Nick@Nite. I recorded a couple of episodes and we watched it together. He loved it and now he even has a few episodes memorized!
As I enjoyed watching it with him and making memories, I came to few realizations:
First, that my son is not watching shows that show Latino families on television.
Second, that if I wanted to show him any, I would have a hard time finding any. The only thing I can think of is the George Lopez Show, which I have referenced to before, as being the only show that shows real situations that Latino families have to deal with in the United States. I remember identifying with Carmen a lot when I watched the show years ago.
Third, research is right- the more generations pass, the harder it is to keep culture and language alive. Simply because what I’m watching as a Latina mom isn’t what my parents were watching — I was exposed to telenovelas and Sábado Gigante, news shows en español. 24 hour of television in Spanish. My son however, isn’t and unfortunately there are no sitcoms (other than Jane the Virgin which unfortunately is not age-appropriate for him) that we can watch together that show
What does that mean for second (and third!) generation Latino parents trying to raise bicultural and bilingual kids? Or, like me, multicultural kids?
For one, it means a lot more dedication and we have to be persistent. NO GIVING UP!
But also, that means that we need to raise our voices about diversity in media and create ways in which we can get our kids excited about our culture.
Earlier this year the Annenberg Center for Media at USC released a report that confirmed the lack of diversity in media, which is ironic since Latino and other minority groups are HUGE consumers of media. You can read the highlights of the report here).
I’m so happy to see some of my friends and colleagues doing exactly that- Dania Santana of La Familia Cool, Carla Curiel of Mundo Lanugo (check out her adorable shorts that you can catch on Univisión!) and many many more!
Where can our children see the issues that are part of growing up bicultural play out? There are many digital platforms that show the funny issues that we deal with as being bicultural Americans. That’s what makes platforms like Flama, Pero Like, and people like LeJuan James and Joanna Hausmann hilarious and so popular. But… where is that type of content for our kids? Where are our families on television?
Right now, nowhere. There is no family sitcom (again, I’m excluding Jane the Virgin because it is not appropriate for younger children) other than the now syndicated George Lopez Show that captures our culture on the small screen. (BTW, Thank you to Sandra Bullock for taking a leap of faith and producing the George Lopez Show many years ago).
You may ask, why do we need this type of content?
“Because children need to see themselves represented in the media they consume in order to strengthen their confidence and identity. Otherwise, unconsciously they will believe that they are not good enough because they are not like the “ones they do see.” They have a need to love and connect with the properties they watch. They can empower them or disempower them. We have a responsibility to do the right thing.
– Carla Curiel, Founder of Mundo Lanugo
Growing up in the early 80s there weren’t many Latinos or people of color on TV. Yes there were some stereotypes but they weren’t authentic and reflective of their culture. I’d love to see more Latino families on television. I’d love to see them in their neighborhoods interacting with their families, pursuing their dreams & representing what it means to be Latino.
– Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, Founder of Atypical Familia
So, television producers, are you listening? We want to see our unique bicultural and bilingual situations on prime time! We want to see our families onscreen!
PS. In Fuller House, Kimmy’s daughter Ramona is bicultural; but this show is not on television, it is on Netflix. Also, the show’s portrayal of Ramona’s father as the stereotypical Latino womanizer leaves much to be desired. I hope that the second season of Fuller House will have more developed story lines for Ramona and her father.