Entertainment

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.

Twitter / @HBO

“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.

Twitter / @HBOPR

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.

Twitter / WigWurq

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.

Twitter / @BlairGuild

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.

Twitter / @missbreton
Twitter / @_smromero

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.

Twitter / @llavvves

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.

Jason Genao Of ‘On My Block’ Talks Growing Up On His Block And His Secret To Making Bomb Empanadas

Entertainment

Jason Genao Of ‘On My Block’ Talks Growing Up On His Block And His Secret To Making Bomb Empanadas

Courtesy of Netflix

Netflix’s coming-of-age comedy “On My Block” has been steadily gaining an audience by the passionate word-of-mouth of fans, and a string of 🔥 GIFS on social media. 

Jason Genao, one of the show’s stars, won over audiences with his character Ruby Martinez’s witty one-liners, his depth of self-awareness, and his hilarious dance moves with co-star Jessica Marie Garcia over the first two seasons of the show. 

Now, if you haven’t seen “On My Block,” we will have a few spoilers ahead for seasons 1 and 2, now that season 3 is officially out.

Before season 3 started streaming, mitú spoke with Genao in an exclusive phone interview to see how he got the inspiration for some of the show’s most pivotal scenes amd how the fictional Los Angeles neighborhood of Freeridge compares to his hometown. Oh, and he shared his secret to making some delicious empanadas.

Genao’s character Ruby left us shook after the ending of season 1. 

A tweet Genao posted on his personal Twitter account before the airing of season 2 said, “Remember that time I had you guys thinking I was dead for a whole year. Ahh commitment.” That hit some fans in the feels—but Genao said he knew he had to keep the script’s enthusiasm going.

Oh, we see you Genao, he’s got a little of a 😈 mischievous side—sounds like someone we know on OMB?

“I think in the back of my head, I knew if I ruined it, season 2 wouldn’t be good. All the suspense was held in the majority of my character whether he was alive or not, [it was a] pivotal story arch. If that would have been ruined, there would not have been as much enthusiasm,” Genao said over the phone with mitú.

“I wanted to keep this suspense in the show as great as everyone else did. I lived off of reading everyone’s tweets—seeing them all suffer for the year,” Genao added.

When it comes to diving into his character of Ruby, he goes all in, especially when it came to handling Ruby’s PTSD following the events of the first season.

“I did my research online with what happens with people who have PTSD. My cousin was shot twice. For me that kind of hit—PTSD comes in the form of however you are as a person,” Genao said of how he was able to understand the effects of PTSD.

“I had to take Ruby as a 14-year-old innocent person, who lives where he lives but never thought it would affect him,” Genao said about the performance. 

Tapping into his own personal experiences was also a vital part of capturing the trauma Ruby went through after being shot at his crush’s Quinceañera party.

Credit: Netflix

“[I] take traumatic experiences and bring them to the forefront—bring real life emotions to the performance. As an actor that is a gift—you hold on to them because of the power they can bring to the scene. I take those things and hold on to them because I need them for my job,” Genao said. 

As layered as Ruby is when it comes to dealing with life’s trauma, he’s also a 14-year-old kid navigating the same exciting ‘firsts’ of teen life—first crush, first kiss, and the first time being a teen entrepreneur. 

Ruby is a character that has it together—he can do his taxes, he has binders for plans, he has choreographed Quince dances. 

Genao assures he was *not* that put-together as a teen growing up in his Dominican family.  

“I was a mess as a teen. My mom was a stay-at-home mom, I relied on her. I definitely was not super put-together as a teenager,” Genao said with a laugh.  

Since Genao seems to embody the characteristics of Ruby down to a button-down T (with polo shorts and a backpack), it might come as a surprise to fans that he actually first read for the role of Cesar Diaz.

Credit: Netflix

“I was sent Cesar and then an hour later [they] sent me the slides for Ruby. I was more intrigued in Ruby because he had so much to say. They said you have to perfect it, so I went into this study mode and I got it down,” he said about landing the role.

Hmmm…maybe Genao and Ruby share some characteristics after all. INSERT NERD FACE EMOJI 

When it comes to Genao’s hometown of Jersey City, there are some similarities to his character’s fictional home of Freeridge. 

“Me and my brothers, we all went to the same high school, there were a lot of gangs. I remember my brother bringing people with cuts and scars and blood and I was like ‘Jesus.’ As time progressed, it got better, I guess they gentrified my neighborhood,” Genao reminisced. 

Much like Freeridge, he said Jersey City also had its teens having fun despite the violence around them. 

“It always had a festival in the summer, and had a carnival. It was really freeing, my mom was never like we HAD to be careful. I was 11-years-old walking to friends’ houses,” he continued.

Growing up in Jersey City also helped Genao appreciate a sense of diversity not seen in every bedroom community across the country.

Credit: Netflix

“Jersey City was super free and so diverse. [When I see] issues like racism or hatred of a certain community [in other places], I was baffled, that wasn’t an issue in my community. It wasn’t until I left that I realized how harsh the rest of America was,” Genao had to say about seeing a lack of diversity in some communities.  

OMB’s success with both audiences and critics can help to change the narrative of diversity in places that might not experience it as much in daily life. 

The show is proof that now diversity is having a movement—not just a moment. 

“It garners more hope—not false hope—a secure hope. We are not just a diverse show, but a successful diverse show,” Genao proudly says. 

Off-camera, Genao likes to cook in his spare time and he does not come to play when it comes to making some B-O-M-B empanadas.

“Sazón Goya and mojo—don’t play with me. Me with my Sazón,” Genao chuckled as he recounted a story where he was browsing the aisles of a market in LA, trying desperately to find the secret ingredient to his empanadas.

Of course, los mercados came through when he needed it and he found his Goya packet at a Latino market. So what’s ahead when it comes to his projects on camera?

“There are lots of things I have my eyes on, you never know. There are things coming,” he cryptically said.

Looks like Genao’s fans will be patiently anticipating what’s to come on OMB season 4 and beyond. 

READ: Netflix Is Paying The ’13 Reasons Why Cast’ More Than The ‘On My Block’ Cast Of Color, Here’s Why That’s Caca

SNL Had A ‘Love Is Blind’ Coronavirus Parody That Was Cut For Time But So Worth Watching

Entertainment

SNL Had A ‘Love Is Blind’ Coronavirus Parody That Was Cut For Time But So Worth Watching

Saturday Night Live / YouTube

The novel coronavirus, known as CoVid-19, is sending global stock markets down and causing worldwide panic as it spreads. Some countries have taken drastic measures to ease the spread while others are ignoring the warnings. The mortality rate of the CoVid-19 is about 2 percent with the elderly and sick the most vulnerable to the virus. “Saturday Night Live” did what comedians do in times like this, brought humor to a situation to ease fears.

“Saturday Night Live” went all-in on the coronavirus this week with a cold opening and a cut-for-time sketch about the virus.

The cut-for-time sketch was a parody on the Netflix show “Love Is Blind.” The show is about people being put in separate rooms and getting to know the other person without ever meeting or seeing the person. Of course, the premise is perfect for a quarantine parody because of the current coronavirus fears.

Fans of the show are so upset that SNL cut the scene because of time constraints.

Credit: ursaltydog / YouTube

The sketch is a funny one. The characters are all at different stages of infection so the doctors are able to use them to find a cure while they find love. There is something so hopeful and dystopian that it is hard not to laugh at it.

There were some highlights that left people in stitches.

Credit: Effia Harrison / YouTube

We’ve all felt the pressure from mom and dad about getting married. Society likes to think that we should all be married younger than our 30s, otherwise, what’s the point. The moment the woman runs to a coronavirus infected man for marriage because she is 34 is something too many people can understand.

Some are wondering what were the conversations to create this sketch.

Credit: Christopher Manley / YouTube

How was this approved? Who at NBC thought this was something people wanted to see? Like, clearly people wanted to see it. After all, the video on YouTube has more than 800,000 views and it wasn’t even in the official airing of the episode.

Mainly, people were just happy for a moment of levity during what has been a scary news cycle about the virus.

Credit: Chimmy89 / YouTube

Some times we all need a good laugh to ease the tension around hectic and scary times. This sketch, aired or not, is offering that to fans of the show and anyone who might come across it.

The coronavirus has claimed more than 3,000 lives around the world and has infected more than 80,000 people at the time of this article. The true extent of the virus is unknown as there are not enough testing kits in the world to truly measure the spread and the magnitude of the virus. As more testing kits become available and more testing standards are implemented, the number of those infected increases. There are also countries that are believed to be underreporting or not testing for fear of China seeking financial retribution on their economies.

The U.S. government has mishandled the response to the virus to the point that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issued statements contradicting the White House until they were muzzled by Vice President Mike Pence. There is concern that the virus has spread in the U.S. for weeks before it was detected.

Here is the full cold opening further addressing the coronavirus and Vice President Pence’s role.

What do you think about the U.S. government’s response to the coronavirus?

READ: First Case Of Coronavirus In Latin America Confirmed In Brazil