HBO’s New Spanish-Language Series Is Exploring Another Widely-Held Love Within Our Culture
There are certain universal similarities throughout the Latinidad that binds us to one another. We don’t mean stereotypes, but things that we honest to goodness all love. For example, our appreciation for cafecito and a rhythmic beat are accurate clichés tied to Latinx folk. Similarly, HBO’s new Spanish-language series is exploring another widely-held love within our culture.
On July 14th, the television network debuted its new series “Los Espookys” and it’s “horror” theme is very close to our hearts.
“Los Espookys” is a mostly Spanish-language comedy that includes a healthy dose of horror and camp. Created by Julio Torres, Ana Fabrega and Fred Armisen, the series takes place in an undisclosed city in Latin America. It follows a group of friends —Renaldo, Andrés, Úrsula and Tati — as they turn their hobby of horror and special effects into a business of their very own creation.
While the show’s mix of comedy and horror is completely engaging, “Los Espookys” is also groundbreaking. As mentioned, the series is mostly in Spanish with English subtitles. The portions that aren’t in Español utilize slang and English with Spanish subtitles to communicate to its audience. For a large network like HBO to carry a Spanish language series and air it in primetime is a huge deal. Even more, it reflects how much confidence the “Game of Thrones” network has in the new show.
The premiere of “Los Espookys” opens with a super intense quinceanera. If you think you’ve been to some scary quinces before, just wait until you see this spook-tastic party. As it turns out, everything from the entrails cake to the mutilated waiters is the work of Renaldo and his crew. The party impresses everyone, including Renaldo’s uncle, Tio Tico (played by Armisen). Expressing his support, his uncle encourages the spooky connoisseur to pursue his passion — even if that passion is monsters and mayhem.
The friends get the chance to do just that when the local priest makes an unusual request of the group’s special skills.
Episode One also reveals more about the group of self-proclaimed “horror technicians.” The black-clad unofficial leader of the group is Renaldo and his life-long friend is Andrés. The electric blue-haired Andrés is the heir to a chocolate company. Called the “Prince of Chocolate,” he is a genuinely intriguing dude with dramatic past. (Note the intense telenovela music that plays whenever he gets contemplative.)
Rounding out the group is a pair of unusual sisters. Úrsula is a dental hygienist with the soul of an artist who is happiest when she’s making something terrifying. Her sister is the odd and unintentionally funny Tita. We first meet Tita when she is hand-spinning the blades of an electric fan to cool down her boss, the priest. Fortunately for us, she only gets more bizarre as the episode goes on.
The cast delivers some great lines but that’s not the only thing that makes “Los Espookys” so entertaining. Improbable situations, subtle humor, and references to popular Latinx culture all add to the series’s appeal, too.
However, it’s the focus on the characters’ love of horror that will really resonate with Latinx viewers — and for a valid reason.
Whether it’s the scary legends of La Llarona y El Cucuy or the movies of Guermillo del Toro, the Latinidad loves horror. After all, we have an entire holiday completely devoted to honoring the dead. If you need additional proof of this love, look no further than our children — the future of our culture.
In early June 2019, 3-year-old Lucia Brown went viral for her very scary birthday theme. The birthday girl insisted on a party that included Valak, the satanic sister from “The Nun.” It wasn’t just Lucia that enjoyed the theme; her friends also painted their face in black and gave into the darkness.
Yet, a love of horror isn’t something we simply grow out of; it grows with us.
When we become teens and start to explore our own independence, we strike out towards our own styles. This often means we explore music and clothing to find what best suits us. In these two subjects, we still see marked examples of our cultural love of horror.
The Emo and Goth subcultures have been notably popular with Latinx teens and young adults since its birth. Both categories are usually associated with teens who are not of color and can appear to be at odds with the colorful traditions of the Latinidad. However, there’s something about the Emo and Goth lifestyles that resonate with Latinx folk.
These categories are often hard to describe but most people can place the look when they see it. Both Emo and Goth subgroups focus on self-expression by embracing dark fashions and the mentality of “the individual.” These subcultures also incorporate a healthy dose of horror — using zombies, monsters and the occult in their fashion and art.
Music is the heart of the Emo and Goth subcultures and is what most links the Latinidad to the lifestyle.
Emo and Goth music often explore dark and emotional topics in their lyrics and evoke feeling with their music. Bands like Morrissey, Joy Division and The Cure led the way for this type of music in the 80’s and 90’s. Later, groups including AFI, My Chemical Romance and The Used became the modern voice of their genre.
For these bands, Morrissey especially has become beloved to Latinx Goths and Emos. Maria Hinojosa’s exploration of this love — entitled “Goths: Latinos on the Dark Side” is an interesting episode of Latino USA that explores this topic.
In it, a guest explains, “For whatever reason, Latinos love Morrissey and no one really knows why. I think it’s the melodrama.”
It could be argued that melodrama is also the reason the Latinidad loves horror.
Many have expressed a sense of community in finding these subgenres so maybe that’s the real reason Latinx folk feel so at home with them.
Often times, Latinos and Latinas feel excluded from the larger communities we’re a part of. Sometimes we’re marginalized by income level. Sometimes it’s our nationality or citizen status that isolates us from others. We can even be excluded from others within our own Latinx community.
However, a shared appreciation of the Emo and Goth subgenres and all things horror unites us in a mutual love. In a world where we can feel so alone, we can go to a Guermillo del Toro film and feel connected. When feeling as though no one understands us, we can listen to Morrissey and hear our feelings in his words.
In this way, “Los Espookys” also has the potential to unite our Latinidad with something we’ll love. Though we’ve only seen one of the six episodes of this season, the response online has been more than positive. Obviously, the hilarious script combined with the characters’ love of horror makes for a combination that audiences relate to. We can’t wait to see what spooky surprises “Los Espookys” has in store for us still.