Mayans M.C. cast member Edward James Olmos, a longtime advocate for onscreen diversity, says FX’s Sons of Anarchy spinoff “is going to move the needle” in terms of how Latino characters are depicted.

During a panel at TCA summer press tour, the star predicted that the show will break through because it unflinchingly explores gritty and topical themes including border security. “A good news newspaper, you couldn’t give it away,” Olmos said. “But this thing is going to go through the roof because it deals with a really dark situation and it’s about time. “

David Buchan/Shutterstock

Creator Kurt Sutter repeated the outlook he shared last month at Comic-Con, that there would be some crossover between Sons of Anarchy and Mayans. But he said those intersections between shows would likely occur only in flashbacks. “I don’t want to mess with that mythology,” he said.

Sutter said anyone inclined to worry about the implications of a show that is breaking ground by presenting a mostly Latino cast and setting but also depicting a violent, outlaw world may be missing the point.

“The stories that I like to tell are about people who are damaged,” Sutter said. “They live outside the parameters of the norm or what’s expected. As a result of that, there’s a rogue component, an outlaw component. And that’s the case here. But I never write these guys from the point of view that they’re dangerous or bad. I write them from the idea that they’re human beings.”

FX

Sutter said the key move he made in putting the spinoff together was bringing in Elgin James, who is of mixed races, as co-creator.”I was aware that a white guy from Jersey shouldn’t be writing a show set in a Latino subculture. That’s not because I’m politically correct,” he clarified. “It’s more about doing this authentically.”

James said, “I couldn’t write on the Cosby Show, the brown Cosby Show. I could never write on one of those shows because I don’t know what it’s like to grow up in a functional family. I have this damage inside me that I want to get out.”

In terms of the level of violence on the show, Sutter said he wasn’t concerned about finding the boundary line. “I don’t think in externalities like ‘what can I get away with?’ ‘How much violence is too much?’” he said. “That’s [FX boss] John Landgraf’s job.”