I Watched ‘Gentefied’ On Netflix And These Are My Brutally Honest Thoughts
Guys, this. is. crazy. Two people claim that I look like Carlos Santos from Netflix’s new series “Gentefied.” Que honor! I mean, whatever, it was my wife’s tía who said I look like him and my wife.
Check it out, y’all.
I mean, I totally see it and there is no way I can be biased.
Carlos Santos, If you need me to do your stunts or stand in for you when you eat a taco or bite into a torta ahogada, just let me know, homie. I’m ready for Hollywood, cabrón.
Enough about me being famous and extremely handsome. I’m here to let your booty know if it’s worth it to sit through ten episodes of “Gentefied.”
Here’s the premise of the show:
Two feuding cousins struggle to keep their abuelo’s taco restaurant afloat. All the while, the threat of gentrification, and the emergence of young hipster customers force the traditional taco joint to adapt to survive.
I grew up in Huntington Park, California and this show should be praised for how it handles complicated themes. From gentrification to Chicano identity and the struggles of lower-income families, the show reminds me un chingo of my hood, my childhood, and even my present-day life. “Gentefied” took the stuff I grew up dealing with, and found a way to present it in the context of a comedy series. But, make no mistake, you will cry while watching this show because you will see your own community represented.
Casimiro (A Traditional Compa in Changing Times)
Recognize this dude? Of course! You know he looks like your abuelo. I know he looks a lot like my abuelo. The casting for Casimiro (the abuelo and taco restaurant owner on the show) is perfection. This viejo knows how to make you cry.
For starters, Casimiro is still in love with his deceased wife, Delfina, and you’ll catch him getting sentimental thinking about her every now and then. My heart was not ready for that kind of love and the tragedy of his character is already implied in his name. “Casi”-“miro,” Spanish for “nearly sees,” because this poor character’s conflict throughout the show is his struggle to hang on to his tradition and values while keeping an eye on the ever-changing present and trying to adapt.
Casimiro is surrounded by change. Rent going up. Menus evolving to catch the attention of young customers. Rich developers swooping in on Boyle Heights and buying up property as the city quickly becomes a hot spot. You’ll have to watch the series to see if this sweet old abuelo can keep up with everything happening around him.
Gay Representation & Struggling Artists: HEY, GURL, HEEEY!
The queer topic is still highly taboo in Latino culture. We don’t talk much about it, at least not with older generations of Latinos. Even though LGBTQ+ rights made huge strides leading up to 2016 and shows like “Queer Eye” are beloved in the mainstream, older Latino generations still have reservations and a hard time accepting queer family members.
In the show, Karie Martin, plays Anna Morales, a queer muralist/painter. Morales gets caught between her protesting girlfriend’s war against the gentrifiers and Casimiro and family’s attempts to keep the business alive. Anna is a struggling artist with a heart of gold but her storyline gets deep when she finds herself being commissioned by the very developers who are out to buy up her neighborhood. The drama gets thicc, fam.
The show raises a lot of moral questions about making pure art versus profit, and how artists can sometimes end up putting aside their values because sometimes you gotta pay the bills. Definitely watch how this plays out. You definitely want to keep an eye out on episode 5. It’s a gem and gives a little insight into the queer struggle amongst Latinos.
The “Not Mexican Enough and Not American Enough” Issue
Back Carlos Santos, who plays Chris on “Gentefied.” Chris is the grandson of Casimiro and is trying to get out of the hood so he can become a 5-star Michelin chef. His family refers to him as a “coconut,” which is what you call someone who’s brown on the outside, but gringo af on the inside.
Throughout the show, Chris’s Mexican identity is always put into question. His coworkers literally make him take a “Mexi-test” to see if he passes as a true Mexican. His family cracks jokes about his hipster tastes. Yet, in the face of his Caucasian boss, Chris is basically another brown dude, with a little bit of skill in the kitchen.
I can relate, like so many. I was born here. So, yes, I like Tame Impala. I like sushi. However, arroz y frijoles has my heart and so does Selena. Chris’s character represents an identity many children born to immigrant parents might sympathize with. Our struggle is we never feel like we belong, but we can take comfort in the fact that shows like “Gentefied” are shining a light on this identity. You’re not alone. If you think you need to pick a side and choose which nationality you rep more Latino or American, this show encourages you to be both and celebrate your intersectional identity.
Look, I don’t want to spoil anything, but when you get to episode eight, “Women’s Work,” you’re going to get a strong urge to knock on your mom’s doors and cry-hug her. Anna’s mom on the show played by Laura Patalano is everyone’s mom. She is a queen and a true icon. She is sarcastic. She is harsh. You end up respecting her or at least sympathizing with her by the end of the series. I could write an entire book on this character.
So, should you watch “Gentified”? Yes.
Not only is the series enjoyable to watch and will keep you carcajeando like your crazy tía when she forgets to take her medicine, but the characters are very well-developed, their story arcs join up beautifully, and you will fight back tears because this show hits home emotionally. As an extra incentive, some of your favorite mitú friends make appearances in the show: shout out to Jenny Lorenzo and Scar. A special shout out to Steph O. who worked behind-the-scenes.
Get binging, cabrones. And let us know what you think.