Entertainment

Here’s Why Netflix’s ‘Mr. Iglesias’ Is So Important For Students Of Color Right Now

Credit: Mr. Iglesias / Netflix

Throughout the history of American film and television, there have been some great teachers that have inspired audiences. We can think, of course, of Sidney Poitier in “To Sir, With Love,” which broke down racial stereotypes in U.S. popular culture, or of Robin Williams and his carpe diem philosophy in “Dead Poet’s Society.” “Dangerous Minds”showcased the many talents of Michele Pfeiffer as an inspiring teacher dealing with a tough neighborhood. And, of course, our own Edward James Olmos in “Stand and Deliver.” All those roles are pretty intense, and students are often portrayed as troubled minds who need rescuing. 

That is why Netflix’s new show, “Mr. Iglesias,” is a fresh and welcome variation on the “inspiring teacher” Hollywood trope. It follows the life in a Long Beach school where students of all ethnicities learn from Gabriel Iglesias, an amazing maestro that dances salsa and is an endless source of wittiness. In fact, the real Iglesias attended this very school, Woodrow Wilson High School. The show has gotten positive reviews. Dan Fienberg from The Hollywood Reportersays: “Would I like for Mr. Iglesias to be funnier? Or, at times, especially funny at all? Yes. But I’m a sucker for ‘well-meaning,’ especially when it’s warm and inclusive.” Merrill Barr at Forbeshighlights that much of the show rests on the broad shoulders of the lead character: “Perhaps it is just due to the animated nature of its lead to sell what would otherwise be a rather bland sitcom, but Mr. Iglesias works. It’s funny. Hacky at times, but funny nonetheless.” But judge by yourself: we promise some hard LOLing! 

It serves us some harsh historical truths right from the beginning.

Credit: Mr. Iglesias / Netflix

As we said, the show follows the adventures of Gabriel Iglesias, a history teacher who struggles to serve some truths to his students in the United States educational system. The show is funny as hell thanks to the incandescent personality of its lead actor, comedian Gabriel Iglesias (how meta!), but that doesn’t preclude it from being fiercely political. In the first episode, suggestively titled “Some Children Left Behind”, the show delves into what the struggles of the educational system mean for the lives of students and teachers. 

He teaches History by keeping his students engaged with pop culture references.

Credit: Mr. Iglesias / Netflix

Seriously, we all would love to have a teacher like Mr. Iglesias. He is not only a source of smart interpretations of racial and class relationships in the United States but also una fuente of wisdom when it comes to cool pop culture references. Seriously, if all maestros were like him, maybe we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in right now as a country and as humankind. 

And being a Latino teacher in the age of Trump… of course, he went there right away!

Credit: Mr. Iglesias / Netflix

OMG, Mr. Iglesias found a way to basically use a picture of POTUS as a piñata, make fun of his hairdo and bring up his Cheeto complexion, all in a few seconds of comedic bliss. When politics are turbulent and violent towards minorities, comedy is one of the best weapons to fight back and have una carcajada en el intento. 

The show was created by Kevin Hench.

Credit: Mr. Iglesias / Netflix

He is an experienced writer and producer, and his credits include the super funny comedy “Last Man Standing,” and the Latino-themed legal drama “Cristela.” No wonder him and Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias found some common ground to create the comedic masterpiece that is “Mr. Iglesias,” which like all good satire uses current events to uncover deeper truths. 

The show looks at the endemic inequalities in the educational system.

Credit: Mr. Iglesias / Netflix

Let’s face it: many Brown and Black kids have systematic obstacles from the get-go. Many of them work from an early age and have to basically deal with the very adult juggling act of home/school/job. This is addressed in the show, with the top student, Marisol (who quotes Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, BTW!), being on the verge of being expelled because of poor attendance when she is helping out in her family business. This is a very familiar situation for thousands of first and second generation students.

There is a white teacher, Mrs. Abigail Spencer, who is just oh so naive! 

Credit: Mr. Iglesias / Netflix

The show doesn’t demonize white characters, it just paints them as… well, sort of naive and protected by bubble wrap. Mr. Iglesias tells her: “Abby, you are white, you can do anything”. She is a funny woman from North Dakota who just needs to get in touch with reality a bit more. Well, there is also a preeeety borderline racist football coach who says “your people” constantly. Of course, es un gringazo

The show is binge material and is getting some committed fans.

Credit: blingeandbrilliant / Instagram

The show has some amazing rhythm. Even though the scripts follow a schematic three-act structure and it has some risas grabadas that are frankly very annoying, “Mr. Iglesias”is totally binge-worthy. The episodes run just under 30 minutes and are fast-paced and full of adorable moments. We don’t blame this Instagram user for bringing the whole show in a night…. we wonder they had cara de zombie the next day, eh?

It is hard to predict whether there will be a second season, but we think there will!

Credit: MrIglesiasNetflix / Instagram

Netflix does not usually release viewership numbers, so the second season is not a done deal. We can predict, however, that this show has some legs, and Netflix would take a lot of heat if they cancel yet another Latino-themed show after the criticism they faced when canceling “One Day at a Time.” With the Latino market in the United States and overseas being a clear player in budgeting and projects, we can predict that “Mr. Iglesias”is here to stay. 

Netflix is pretty committed to Gabriel Iglesias, a top Latino talent.

Credit: Netflix

Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias has a highly popular stand-up comedy act in “One Show Fits All,” where he talks about the many tribulations of being a person of color in this day and age, as well as some funny Mexican traditions and body positivity. He is not fat, he says, he is simply fluffy. 

Here is what you need to know about Gabriel Iglesias.

Credit: MrIglesiasNetflix / Instagram

He was born Gabriel Jesus Iglesias, in San Diego, so he is a true son of Mexican-American culture. He and his five siblings were raised by a single mom. He spent his childhoods in struggling Californian communities such as Compton, Baldwin Park and lastly Long Beach, where “Mr. Iglesias”is set. His comedic influences are diverse: Paul Rodriguez, Eddie Murphy, Robin Williams, and the disgraced Bill Cosby.

Recognize his voice from “Padre de familia”, that awesome “Family Guy” special?

Credit: Family Guy / Fox

In 2007, Gabriel Iglesias voiced an entire Mexican family in the hilarious sixth season episode of Family Guy, simply titled “Padre de familia”. And if you are a fan of kitschy films, he also plays a super funny character in the male stripper saga Magic Mike (we just can’t get over how he moves sus lonjas doing a Carmen Miranda impression).

READ: Here Are 20 Reasons Why You Need To Stop Sleeping On Gabriel ‘Fluffy’ Iglesias

Disney Is Debuting Their First Jewish Princess And Surprise! She’s Also Latina

Entertainment

Disney Is Debuting Their First Jewish Princess And Surprise! She’s Also Latina

We all know by now that is no “one way” to be Latinx. Latinos come in a variety of forms, from Black to white, tall to short, descended from Indigenous, African, and European populations. And while Roman Catholicism may be the dominant religion in most of Latinidad, it goes without saying that Latino culture is not a monolith. Latinos practice a variety of religions, from Islam to Buddhism to, yes, Judaism. 

And while most people don’t necessarily think of Judaism when they think of Latin America, there is, in fact, a small but proud population of Jewish Latinos who keep their culture alive through tradition and a strong sense of community. But being a part of such a small community within an already-marginalized community can feel isolating at times. Especially when there are no public role models to see yourself reflected in.

That’s why Tuesday’s news that Disney is debuting a Jewish-Latinx princess sent shock-waves through the internet. 

Walt Disney Television Animation News announced via Twitter that an upcoming Elena of Avalon episode in December would be featuring a “visiting princess” from a “Latino Jewish kingdom”.The as-yet-unnamed princess will be voiced by Jamie-Lynn Sigler, the actress famous for her portrayal of Meadow Soprano on HBO’s seminal masterpiece, “The Sopranos”. 

The Tweet also revealed that the princess would also make an appearance in Elana’s “royal coronation special” next year. Although we do not know any further details of Sigler’s character or her storyline, “Elena of Avalor” writer Rachel Ruderman gave a small preview of what’s to come. “A little over a year ago, I had the honor of writing an Elena of Avalor episode featuring Disney’s first Jewish princess,” Ruderman said via Twitter. She continued: “Jamie Lynn Sigler knocks the role out of the park (wait ’till you hear her song!) Can’t wait to share this one”.

In a move of conscious-casting on Disney’s part, Jamie Lynn Sigler herself happens to be both Latina and Jewish–a giant step for a media giant that can sometimes miss the mark with casting.

Raised by a Jewish father and a Cuban mother, Sigler grew up in New York City as part of a multicultural family.In the past, Sigler has talked about being raised Jewish–attending Hebrew school, having a Bat Mitzvah, and even going on a Birth Right trip to Israel in 2008. 

This episode can serve as an educational experience for many people (including those of Latinx descent) who are unaware that Jewish Latinos even exist. In fact, what some people might not even know, is that the term “Sephardic” (a term used to describe Jewish people of European descent) literally means “of Spain or Portuguese descent” in old Hebrew. In other words, it’s not a stretch to imagine a character of both Latin and Jewish roots on our TV screens. In fact, it’s completely historically plausible!

Naturally, both the Latinx and Jewish Twitter population is super excited at this groundbreaking news.

As we mentioned before, the acknowledgment of Jewish Latinos in popular culture is such a rarity. When the media shines a spotlight on such a marginalized group of people, the advent is worth celebrating. And even though changes are slow in the making, any progress on the representation front is a step in the right direction.

Jamie Lynn Sigler herself expressed her excitement at the news, calling to attention the novelty of her position:

Yes, it’s exciting that the Jewish Latinx population has finally gotten some princess representation, but it’s still a little bit frustrating that we had to wait until 2019 for a Jewish princess. We have a long way to go.

This Latina Jew was incredibly excited at the prospect of having the chance to see her own unique lifestyle reflected onscreen:

The self-styled “Jewyorican” is one of many New York-based Puerto-Rican Jews who identify fully with both cultures. It’s not as rare as people think.

Some Latinx Jews took to Twitter to give some suggestions on how Disney could go about bringing the new character to life:

This Hispanic Linguistics Professor suggested incorporating the ancient Judeo-Spanish language of Ladino into the show. 

This multi-cultural woman celebrated the inclusion of multiple cultures in one character:

Families like hers are the way of the future–at least according to statistics. Although many media outlets still see American families in black and white, the rest of us living our lives know that our identities are increasingly a hodgepodge of cultures. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Selena Gomez Announces New Netflix Series ‘Living Undocumented’

Entertainment

Selena Gomez Announces New Netflix Series ‘Living Undocumented’

Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

Selena Gomez continues her reign as a Netflix producer with Living Undocumented. It is always great when celebrities use their platforms to enrich and educate. Gomez has a huge platform and can generate huge numbers. 13 Reasons Why blew Netflix’s expectations out of the water, and I can’t help but think it’s because of Gomez’s enormous Instagram following. The girl has reach. 

As you might have guessed, Living Undocumented is a documentary series that follows the lives of undocumented immigrants as they navigate life under the looming threat of increasingly cruel immigration policies and ICE raids.

Selena Gomez announces Living Undocumented on Instagram

“I am so humbled to be a part of Netflix’s documentary series Living Undocumented. The immigration issue is more complex than one administration, one law or the story you hear about on the news. These are real people in your community, your neighbors, your friends—they are all part of the country we call home. I can’t wait for you guys to see this and hope it impacts you like it impacted me. Available globally October 2,” Gomez wrote.

Living Undocumented 

Living Undocumented will focus on eight undocumented families. Premiering on October 2nd on Netflix, the show will chronicle the families as they face possible deportation. The narratives will range from hopeful to infuriating, but the series will put a human face on a dehumanized group of people. 

It cannot be said again that the United States has always struggled with two contradictory narratives: the one where it is a beacon of hope for the tired, hungry, and poor, versus the one where it has upheld numerous racist and xenophobic immigration policies. This is an issue that predates Trumpito, even if he has kicked it into it’s most degrading form. 

“I chose to produce this series, Living Undocumented because, over the past few years, the word ‘immigrant’ has seemingly become a negative word,” said Gomez. “My hope is that the series can shed light on what it’s like to live in this country as an undocumented immigrant firsthand, from the courageous people who have chosen to share their stories.”

Gomez is joined by executive producers Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman, Mandy Teefey, Anna Chai, and Sean O’Grady. Chai will also co-direct the series.

“Living Undocumented is designed to illuminate one of the most important issues of our time. But rather than discussing this issue with only statistics and policy debates, we wanted viewers to hear directly from the immigrants themselves, in their own words, with all the power and emotion that these stories reflect.”

Humanizing immigrants is key

People don’t just bring guns into Walmarts to kill 22 innocent humans beings for no reason. It is no secret that President Trump’s dehumanizing language was a catalyst for the El Paso shooting. The suspect whose name shall not be invoked told officers he was looking to kill “Mexicans.” Mexicans — the Latinxs Trump referred to as rapists and criminals. The mass murderer also said he wanted to stop a “Hispanic Invasion,” in his manifesto. Trump called Central Americans “invaders.” 

According to Pew Research Center, this year they found that 58 percent of Latinx adults say they experienced discrimination because of their race or ethnicity. Across all races and ethnic groups, two-thirds of individuals surveyed say that expressing racist views has become more common since Trump was elected. 

This year, at a Trump rally, supporters were cheering about shooting immigrants. 

“How do you stop these people?” Trump asks. Then someone yelled back, “Shoot them.” Trump smiled. The crowd cheered. Three months later, the El Paso shooting took 22 lives.

“The language that criminalizes and makes Latinos out to be evil is affecting our own citizens and it’s going to have both short- and long-term consequences that we are starting to see in the Latino population,” Elizabeth Vaquera, an associate professor at George Washington University who studies vulnerable groups, told the Washington Post.

A Bipartisan Non-Issue Becomes A Partisan Issue

This immigration “issue” started off as a hoax but through Trump’s horrible policies he created this new immigration crisis. In 2017, when Trump took office, migrants arrested at the border were at the lowest level in three decades. 

Three former employees of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security wrote in Politico, the border crisis is all Trump’s fault.

 “It is Donald Trump himself who is responsible. Through misguided policies, political stunts and a failure of leadership, the president has created the conditions that allowed the asylum problem at the border to explode into a crisis.” 

Public Religion Research Institute survey found that 80 percent of Democrats view the fact that the majority of the United States will be nonwhite by 2045 as a good thing, while 61 percent of Republicans say it is bad. 

The barrage of harmful rhetoric has turned what was not even a problem into a national crisis with opinions straddling partisan lines, and a heightened hatred of Latinx people. Living Undocumented might be exactly what this country needs.