There has been a problem of misrepresentation of Latinas in popular media for a long, long time. Most of the times we see Latinas in roles such as the maid or the babysitter (For example in the popular show Devious Maids the Latina characters are well developed and present in every episode but the show is popular (and this is my opinion) because almost every character is a maid (except for the lawyer (who also pretended to be a maid for much of the show). Most Americans don’t like to see Latinas in a position of power and this show, by presenting them as maids, creates almost a comical situation that allows the show to be funny and the audience to forget a little the fact that they are watching a plot with strong and powerful Latinas).
There are a few shows that get it right and why they are so awesome about representing us Latinas in the media.
Think of this show as a Mexican telenovela in English. It has all the melodrama, the impossible plot twist and it’s incredibly hilarious. The plot is about Jane, a virgin at 22, who becomes accidentally artificially inseminated by Rafael. I don’t want to spoil the show for you (go watch, it is on Netflix) so let’s talk about why the character of Jane is simply amazing. First of all, the show destroys the stereotype that Latinas are just maids or babysitter. Jane is a diligent student who finished college, it’s pursuing a master degree and dreams of becoming a writer. The show also presents the Hispanic family as complex rather than the typical representation of the Hispanic family as a big Catholic bunch with a strong father and a submissive mother. In Jane the Virgin the mother and the grandmother are the most important members of Jane’s life. They argue, have different opinions on religion, pregnancy, and sexuality. They speak English, Spanish, and Spanglish. However, they show the most important value among all families, we are always there for each other no matter what. Jane the Virgin is a show that touched my heart because of the sensitivity and nuance that it used to represent the Hispanic family and the character of Jane. I can’t wait for the next season (which spoiler alert is coming out most likely in January).
Ok. Let’s talk about Veronica Lodge. She is fierce, sexy, go-getter and confident. In many aspects, she can be seen as the strongest character on the show. Veronica definitely defies the Latinx stereotypes usually seen in Hollywood. This is not the only character that’s pushing the ethnic stereotypes in the show. Reggie Mantle, one of the jocks of the TV show, defies the typical representation of Asian characters as nerdy, studious and introverts.
1.One day at a time.
Another show you can find on Netflix. One day at a time explores the life of a Cuban family in LA (a nice change from the usual Miami setting). The show is outstanding and all the characters are extremely well thought and developed. The female characters are especially wonderful (Hello, Rita Moreno is in this show!) But I want to talk about one character specifically, Elena. Elena is a teenager but her character represents all the things that are usually associated with taboos in the Latin culture. She is gay, gamer, boyish, doesn’t believe in religion nor marriage. Elena shows that Latinas are not the flat and stereotypical persona that the media represents. It also gives a voice and an image to all the Latinas that identify as Elena does and this is essential if we aim to change the image of Latinas in the media and in our daily lives.