Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Despite standing as such a large percentage of the overall U.S. population, Latino culture remains a largely invisible piece of the network primetime television landscape. So the cast and producers of the new NBC comedy Welcome to the Family were asked their thoughts on helping to break that mold a bit during a TCA session this morning. The series chronicles how cultures collide when a white family and a Latino family in Los Angeles are bonded together by their children who fall in love, followed quickly by an unplanned pregnancy. Exec producer Mike Sikowitz maintained that he wasn’t necessarily looking to push Latino culture to the forefront in the show, however. “I just felt it was important to do a show that I feel reflects L.A. or really any area in the country today,” Sikowitz said. “I was just trying to bring two families together.”
Co-star Ricardo A. Chavira, an alumnus of Desperate Housewives, pointed out that when Latinos exist on TV, “we exist within the realm of specific stereotypes. You can’t always escape them, either. But that’s not the foundation of what this family [on the show] is. It’s more universal than that. It just adds texture to the story.” A critic followed that up by wondering aloud if Chavira might have been referring to the Lifetime drama Devious Maids (from Marc Cherry of Housewives fame) when talking about Latinos existing in the realm of stereotypes. But he didn’t want to get drawn into a war. “I wasn’t referring to anything at all,” Chavira insisted. “I think there’s some wonderful elements to [Devious Maids]. I’m very proud of the people I used to work with and what they’re doing on that show.” However, he allowed, “Myself personally, I probably have a couple of issues with it, that’s all.”
Chavira’s costar Justina Machado, a Latina, earlier emphasized that Latinos in Hollywood need to speak up for themselves more to get noticed and employed. “It’s true that we don’t exist as much as we’d like to see ourselves [in TV],” she said, “and we are huge in this country. We put [President] Obama over. So we absolutely have to start speaking up for ourselves.”