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.

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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!

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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

13 Reasons Why Latinos Will Miss Seeing Their Stories In ‘Jane The Virgin’

Entertainment

13 Reasons Why Latinos Will Miss Seeing Their Stories In ‘Jane The Virgin’

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WARNING, SOME VERY CHIQUITO SPOILERS AHEAD! 

The end of one of our favorite shows, Jane the Virgin, is near. For almost five years (it was first aired in 2014) we have followed the adventures of Jane Gloriana Villanueva, our heroine who was wrongly inseminated. Jane’s journey was also related to her career as a writer, a vocation that she tries to follow even though life sometimes gets in the way. The narrative accomplishes something almost impossible to pull off: it makes outrageous telenovela situations feel close to us. The 100th and last ever episode will be aired on July 31st, and fans are getting their tissue box ready for what promises to be a tearful finale. Because we don’t like goodbyes we will start our farewell now. These are some of the reasons why we consider Jane the Virgin to be a watershed moment in the history of Latino representation in mainstream television, and why we will miss Jane, her lovers, her family, and her amazingly quirky son. A llorar se ha dicho

1. Jane the Virgin was finally a show that represented the many complexities of Latino communities in the U.S.: it made us laugh and cry in equal measures.

Credit: cwjanethevirgin / Instagram

There have been some shows about Latinos in the United States, and titles such as Netflix’s Mr. Iglesias seem to be gaining more traction. However, Jane the Virgin could break into the mainstream, escaping the niche denominator of “Latino”. It was wonderful to see the very specific Florida Latinidad represented on the screen. 

2. The show discussed the uncomfortable issue of migration and the perilous path to citizenship. Te queremos, Alba!

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The show touched in one of the main issues that define the Latino experience in the United States: migration. Alba’s citizenship journey was equally stressful and hard to watch, and we are sure it resonated with millions of Latino families in how vulnerable migrants can be before attaining citizenship. A call to action that was also told in a tender, extremely human way. 

3. Jane proudly wore her Latina identity, in her life and literary work.

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Instead of trying to “fit in” with Anglo culture to blend, Jane Gloriana Villanueva embraces and celebrates her Latina identity. From her clothes to her cultural references (Chilean novelist Isabel Allende makes a cameo!) and her literary work, she tries to uncover what Latina identity means today in matters of love, family, sex and professional life. 

4. It showed us that true friendship with your exes and your exes’ exes is possible (you know this is a telenovela, right?)

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Well, maybe this is not that in tune with reality, pero se vale soñar. We love how Petra, Jane, and Rafael find a way to co-parent three cheeky monkeys. 

5. It gave us a strong, independent, queer woman.

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Petra is perhaps the character that developed the most. She went from being a terrible telenovela villana to being a member of the Villanueva clan. Her backstory is fascinating and through the seasons she found a way to discover herself: she is a survivor, and the ultimate way to survive is accepting who she is a powerful queer businesswoman, and a loving mother who allows herself to be vulnerable and ask for help. 

6. It serves us some old-world Latino charm.

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When Jane imagines her romantic epics, and also when Alba tells her life story, we get to see some of the old world Latino charms that have made the romantic narrative a staple of the region. This is also a way to deal with 

7. It provided us with one of the most truthful representations of the joys, frustrations, and awesomeness of parenthood.

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Right from her pregnancy, Jane embodied the shock and delights of motherhood. The show does not give us a vanilla version of how pregnancy sorta wrecks the female body and how hard it is to raise a child. Mateo is Jane’s world, and it is amazing to witness Jane embrace her power, but also her cluelessness as to how to be a mother. Nadie nace sabiendo

8. Four words: Rogelio De La Vega.

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Mexican actor Jaime Camil, a former telenovela heartthrob, found his ideal character in Rogelio De La Vega. He is funny and charming, vulnerable and the best father ever. We would totally watch a spin-off featuring only him! 

9. The genuine chemistry and friendship shared by the cast.

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Gina Rodriguez and Jaime Camil really do look like father and daughter in this photo. Judging by interviews and their social media accounts (including photos of Gina’s recent wedding), cast members have formed a true family offscreen, which translates into the amazing chemistry we see in the show. 

10. The show is a true picture of the multicultural United States.

Credit: janethevirginlove / Instagram

Yes, the cast is primarily Latino or plays Latino characters (even the blonde Michael has a Latino last name: Cordero), but the show has Eastern European, Anglo, Black and even Indian characters. Rather than being insular and only focus on Latinos, it is a mosaic of the cultural diversity of Florida, where the narrative takes place. 

11. Primero la familia: a message that resonated with Latino audiences worldwide.

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Through the show, we are witness to the perpetuation of family rituals. The Villanuevas have dinner together, come rain or come shine, and they spend time together even if they are upset at each other. Later in the show, Petra and Jane find a way to create new traditions for Mateo and the twins, unlikely half-siblings who are growing up together. 

12. Simply put, Jane the Virgin is funny as hell.

Credit: janethevirginlove / Instagram

Jane the Virgin is a cleverly written comedy that blends huge amounts of drama, very tender and human moments, and gags that are anything but cheap. Every joke or unusual situation in the show reveals something about the characters rather than looking for cheap laughs. For example, when Jane’s life spins out of control she usually becomes very clumsy: the physical comedy reveals characters’ inner state. We can also think of Rogelio’s hilarious gift baskets! (we wouldn’t mind getting one by the way). Or how Petra’s twins often make reference to the creepy duo from the horror film The Shining.

13. But above all, the show gives full agency to female characters, something rare in any TV show.

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In today’s media industry, it is extremely rare for a female-led television show or film to be approved, even more so if the character is a Latina played by a relatively unknown actress. Jane the Virgin was a rarity and a novelty: a sitcom that got pretty dark at times, which offered dialogue in Spanish and was unashamedly influenced by telenovelas. The Villanueva queens and Petra drove the narrative, un matriarcado televisivo like no other. Jane did not make her decisions solely based on what her romantic counterparts demanded: she was in control of her feelings, her sexuality and her experience as a mother. We will miss you, Jane hermosa.

READ: ‘Jane The Virgin’ Actress Opens Up About How Anxiety Kept Her From Showing Up To Set

He’s Been Open With His Struggles And Comes Through For His Community When They Need Him

Entertainment

He’s Been Open With His Struggles And Comes Through For His Community When They Need Him

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Danny Trejo is one of the most recognizable Latino faces in the world. He is a common feature in Hollywood films, where he often portrays antiheroes. Among his films, we can think of the classic Heat, Con Air, and Machete, the last with frequent collaborator Robert Rodriguez, the Texan director he considers a sort of creative brother. Trejo was born in Echo Park (doesn’t get more L.A. than that!) on May 16, 1944. He is a true example of the American Dream: he survived a rough upbringing and life in prison to become a successful and reformed individual who dedicates big chunks of his time to helping others. He creates jobs through his multiple business ventures and often speaks to youth about the importance of staying out of trouble, particularly if you belong to an ethnic minority.

He is the face of tender “bad hombres” (we just can’t get over this terrible moniker POTUS placed on Mexican men!)

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As Daily Breeze recalls, he got a second chance in life after being to prison and suffering from addiction early in life: “Influenced by a young uncle, Trejo was off to a life of crime from an early age and did time in juvenile camps before eventually landing in Soledad and San Quentin state prisons for drugs and other crimes”. Rehabilitation is possible! You can’t judge a book by its cover (hear that, gringos racistas?) and the tough-looking Trejo is proof of that. 

He is an entrepreneur at heart, the symbol of Latino hardworking individuals.

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Trejo has opened a taco shop, a doughnut shop, and many other business ventures. The Daily Breeze says about Trejo’s many talents: “He’s a successful restaurateur with a growing taco and doughnut empire that shows no signs of cooling down. And even though he doesn’t drink, he’s got a beer out, too, a Mexican lager of course”. 

He even has a new beer brand even though he is not a drinker.

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This is what Daily Breeze said about Trejo’s cerveza: “Because even though he doesn’t drink alcohol, there really is nothing Trejo can’t do. But surprisingly, while Trejo is pretty much the toughest looking man in all of Los Angeles, his 4.7% ABV straw-colored beer is really smooth with an almost sweet taste, which means you can drink a few and still be able to take Machete in a fight. No, who are we kidding — Machete would destroy any of us”. A rave review in our books! Can you imagine sipping this brew with good old cevichito as you look at the Californian sunset?

He talks about men’s health in an open, frank way.

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As The Sun reported, Trejo is on a mission to get dudes talking about their health, including erectile dysfunction. He is quoted as saying: “Every man on earth has experienced this, and if you say no, you’re lying and I’m calling you a liar. So there you go, Danny Trejo, called you a liar and now you don’t have to hide it.” He is even a bit funny talking about the trials and tribulations of not being able to rise to the occasion: “You can be 25-years-old and if you’re tired, you’ve been working all night, it’s late – sometimes it’s not going to happen. But especially in the Latino community where I’m from, men don’t talk about these things – because we’re supposed to be the hunter-gatherer or some sh*t. Well, I hate hunting”. Preach, Danny! 

He is funny as hell on social media.

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Really, he is like any Latino dad, uploading every single meme or viral trend he finds in a very dad joke kinda way. 

He has been able to get meatier roles as the years have gone by: a true underdog story.

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Trejo’s acting career has gone from being an extra to having better roles that sometimes play with his badass persona. He told The Guardian: “They Would Always Say, ‘Get That Mexican Guy With The Big Tattoo. I’d Show Up And Have One Line, Like, ‘Kill ’em All!’ Or Somethin’.”

He has one of those faces that just sparks creativity.

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Just look at this wonderful piece of street art in Brazil. Trejo’s wrinkled face tells a thousand stories, it is a roadmap of a life that has encapsulated so many experiences that it could fill a hundred lives. Trejo us a symbol of second chances and of the many forms that Latino masculinity can take. 

At 75 years of age, he shows that elderly doesn’t mean you can’t work out.

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Any 20-year-old flojo would envy Trejo’s sculpted body. He told NY Daily News back in 2007: “I look at the script. If I see a part that says shirt-off, then I go to the gym”. Well, he hasn’t stopped working out by the looks of it (by “it” we mean his badass muscles). 

He is a living example of how you can kick ass fighting addiction.

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Trejo is now clean, but there was a time when he didn’t know if he would live a long life. He certainly didn’t expect to reach 70. The Guardian conversed with Trejo in 2018: “I didn’t even think I’d make it out of the 1960s. I picked the wrong role model. I picked my uncle, who was a drug addict and an armed robber. But he was the greatest guy in the world as far as I was concerned”. He experienced heroin for the first time when he was just 12-years-old, so the road to redemption was steep.

He is a caring Latino dad.

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He has two children: Danielle and Gilbert. He often shares messages for them on social media. He has also helped his son on his own path towards rehabilitation from addiction.

Getting clean is something he did with his son.

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He has travelled the path of staying clean with his son and has even collaborated with him in a film project where the young Trejo directs him. 

He is super approachable for fans.

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Don’t think twice: if you ever see him on the street or a fan convention, ask for a selfie. 

He participates in most Latino projects, including the new movie version of Dora la exploradora!

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Can you think of a better actor to give voice to Dora’s monkey, Boots? Neither can we. 

He supports young female boxers and aspiring musicians. Did you know that? 

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Trejo Music is his new passion project! As he told Daily Breeze: “Everything good that has happened to me has happened from helping people, and I started this record label to help people. Let’s hear you and if you can fit, you’re on”.  The label’s first album: Danny Trejo Presents Chicano Soul Shop Vol. 1. Can we please get it, like tomorrow. He is also a boxing manager and promoter and supports champion Seniesa Estrada. 

And, of course, he gave us Machete, an icon of resistance against inhumane border policies.

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Before the Trump era kicked in, Trejo was already kicking ass at the border by embodying Mexican ire against racist politicians and gringo vigilantes. 

READ: People Are Freaking Out About The High-Pitched Character Danny Trejo, AKA Machete, Voices In The New “Dora The Explorer” Movie

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