entertainment

Here’s How Netflix’s ‘Siempre Bruja’ Is Getting it Right And Wrong

Siempre Bruja / Netflix

In the world of brujería, Hollywood has been a major disappointment. For one, white girls are always witches, when we all know that every source of witchery boils down to our indigenous and Black roots. America’s initial obsession with witchcraft started with 17th century Puritan Americans and their absolute terror of the religious practices of colonizer’s African slaves.

Hollywood has capitalized on stolen culture en masse with its installments of witchy films and series, ranging from “Practical Magic” to “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” to “Charmed.” This genre is so inherently white, that when The CW’s reboot of “Charmed” was advertised as a trio of Latina witches, the Internet exploded with excitement. That was quickly followed by disappointment once we saw that, once again, the Latina characters were not all played by Latinas.

Prepare yourself for a similar journey with Netflix’s latest “Siempre Bruja,” which while it might be the best ever depiction of brujería, it is also another instance of Hollywood’s obsession with racial reconciliation fantasy.

The best part of the whole show is Angely Gaviria performance of Carmen.

Credit: @thegirlmob / Twitter

“Siempre Bruja” is a breakout role for Gaviria, who was born in Cartagena, Colombia. This Afro-Latina beauty is an actual beauty queen, holding the Señorita Afrodescendiente crown when she was just 16 years old. This show marks her third on-screen performance, and she slayed.

The show is based in Cartagena, Colombia.

Credit: Siempre Bruja / Netflix

Major props to the production. We get to see the beauty of the coast, strong colors, and cultura all throughout. At least we’re getting our brujería en español.

Pro tip: the English dubs are terrible, but the English subtitles are key for Spanish-challenged Latinos.

Like The CW, Netflix failed to promote the problematic plot of the entire show.

Credit: Siempre Bruja / Netflix

We started out seeing an Afro-Latina bruja being burned at the stake only to escape to the year 2019 in her hometown of Cartagena. Sounds compelling, right?

We get to see an Afro-Colombian play an Afro-Colombian and create more visibility.

Credit: @LHerstorian / Twitter

It seems outrageous that any production would get points for hiring an Afro-Latina but this is 2019 and seeing an Afro-Latina get a starring role is a huge deal. Hopefully, not for long, thanks to Angely.

Prepare yourself for this major flaw.

Carmen’s entire motivation is to save her lover, who happens to be her slave master.

Credit: Siempre Bruja / Netflix

We meet Cristobal as Carmen’s real-life white savior who purchases her as his own, after having pity for the way she was being treated. No points are given, sir.

Carmen narrates her journey via lovesick letters to her Cristobal, who is stuck in the past.

Credit: Siempre Bruja / Netflix

So, a powerful bruja who was enslaved in the past finds herself in the present, where she suddenly is treated like a human and she wants to go back to her slave master?

Written for white audiences, by white writers, or nah?

Credit: @theetemi / Twitter

Such a trope. So bad. Carmen is head over heels in love with Cristobal, who plays the ultimate white savior.

There were so many missed opportunities for black characters to be their own advocates.

Credit: Siempre Bruja / Netflix

Hilda is Carmen’s best friend, who ends up getting caught up in this strange power dynamic. After Carmen disappears, it’s Cristobal who is corroborating her magic, not her BFF.

Al fin, Carmen and Hilda are saved purchased again by the descendent of their previous owners.

Credit: Siempre Bruja / Netflix

This time, it’s the great-grandson of their old owners. He comes in the nick of time to trade spooky futuristic gadgets (compass, watch, etc.) in exchange for their bodies.

A white man teaches Carmen about her magic. 😩

Credit: Siempre Bruja / Netflix

People are growing tired. They always promise that they’ll do some things right in this show. To be fair, we do get some flashbacks of Carmen’s family teaching her about her magic before they were separated by the horrors of slavery. 

Oh, and then there’s a whole other love triangle with another white guy.

Credit: Siempre Bruja / Netflix

Why can’t these roles be given to more POC? Put black men in hero roles. Stop making white men saviors for black women.

All that said, let’s point out what “Siempre Bruja” did right.

Credit: @AyasatoHikari / Twitter

The base plot is truly terrible, but the actress herself is captivating. Plus, we get to see beachside Colombia in ways that we rarely see streaming on Netflix. It’s a binge-worthy show.

La Fiesta de la Candelaria scenes are breathtaking.

Credit: Siempre Bruja / Netflix

Instead of The CW’s “Charmed” sorority party scenes, we get to see Cartagena’s most celebrated holiday, an obvious nod to how slavery would ultimately impact ‘the future.’ African people celebrated their own religion under the pretense of Roman Catholic saints and holidays forced on them. La Fiesta de la Candelaria is a major celebration of African spirituality and black culture in the Caribbean.

Central to La Fiesta is The Black Madonna.

Credit: Siempre Bruja / Netflix

Unfortunately, we have to hear Carmen belittling herself and judging her powers based on how they affect Cristobal, but hey, representation, right? This is the problematic double-sided coin of the entire show in a nutshell.

There are some indigenous people cast in the show támbien.

Credit: Siempre Bruja / Netflix

He shows up during a university class and is introduced as a source of knowledge. I thought we’d see much more of him, and that he’d help Carmen in some way, pero, no.

Then there was the scene reminiscent of the magic realism of “Agua de Chocolate.”

Credit: Siempre Bruja / Netflix

Carmen is crying tears over Cristobal while she’s cooking, and suddenly, her patrons start grieving as well. It, of course, must be pointed out that future Carmen is still serving white people without pay in the same exact home, now run as a hostel. She’s working for a free place to stay.

The Santera in all of us got excited to see this ritual.

Credit: Siempre Bruja / Netflix

You’re not Latino if your tía didn’t wear all white for at least one decade in your life. This ritual, of course, was centered around Carmen trying to forget Cristobal so she could function.

Ok, so some white magic came through with the ouija board. 

Credit: Siempre Bruja / Netflix

We all know they’re meant to invoke dead spirits, and luckily, Carmen was surprised to learn of it existing in the future. That’s because white people made that up, but Carmen’s powers were able to create contact.

“When you see a light flash across the sky, it’s a soul leaving this plane.”

Credit: Siempre Bruja / Netflix

All of us heard our mamis say this at one point or another, and it was cool to see it happen in “Siempre Bruja.” Carmen helped release a spirit and watched his soul streak across the sky.

Bottom line: “Siempre Bruja” isn’t perfect, but perfect is the enemy of the good. We have representation you won’t see anywhere else on television and that needs to be celebrated.

Credit: Siempre Bruja / Netflix

Have you watched “Siempre Bruja”? What do you think about the show and it’s representation of Afro-Latinos in Afro-Latino roles?

READ: Aja’s ‘Brujería’ Is The Anthem For All Of The Brujas Who Are Just Living Their Best Life

'Mujer Linda' Is The 'Pretty Woman' Recast The World Deserves Right Now

Entertainment

‘Mujer Linda’ Is The ‘Pretty Woman’ Recast The World Deserves Right Now

“Pretty Woman” is one of the world’s highest grossing romantic comedies of all time. It will always have a place in our hearts with its original cast and crew, but we’ve decided to dream up who are all-star cast would be if we got an all Latino reboot. Get ready for “Mujer Linda.”

Ana de la Reguera as Vivian Ward

Credit: Instagram / d

The classic story of a sultry escort turned high-end girlfriend is one of America’s favorite modern fairy tales. In our reimagining of the series, there were dozens of gorgeous Latina starlets who could have made for a great Vivian, but we settled on Ana De La Reguera because of her effortless, natural charm and big, bold eyes. She looks lively while also bringing a bit of naivety, even innocence, to the role. Who would you pick for the “Mujer Linda” recast?

Gael García Bernal as Edward Lewis

Credit: Instagram / gaelgarciab

Richard Gere gave a memorable performance as Edward Lewis, but one of the sexiest Latinos in Hollywood, Gael García Bernal, could pull it off with flying colors. The “Coco”star has shown the world his range in being a smiling cad, then an honest friend and relative in the next scene. Imagine him livening up the screen with Ana De La Reguera in his arms! We can hardly imagine a cuter Latin Lover for this important role.

Javier Bardem as James Morse

Credit: Instagram / javierbardemantartica

Javier Bardem looks like a smart business owner with his classy but rugged looks. In the movie, James Morse is the beleaguered owner of a shipbuilding company that Edward is trying to savagely take over. Javier already knows his way around a ship owing to his “Pirates of the Caribbean”days, so we imagine he’d do just fine helping Edward turn into a partner instead of a hostile takeover-er.

Pitbull as Philip Stuckey

Credit: Instagram / pitbull

Who better than Mister Worldwide to be the baddie in this romcom recast for a Latino audience? Pitbull could be all bite as the infamous Philip Stuckey, a ruthless corporate lawyer willing to stop at nothing to get what he wants. Dalé!

Aubrey Plaza as Kit De Luca

Credit: Instagram / plazadeaubrey

We just can’t get over how wonderful comedian Aubrey Plaza would be as Kit De Luca, Vivian’s wisecracking friend and mentor. The “Parks and Recreation”actress would be ripe for the recasting and just the spunk the cast would need for a Latino reboot of the classic.

Mark Consuelos as David Morse

Credit: Instagram / @instasuelos

Ah yes – David Morse, son of James Morse, the aforementioned owner of a beleaguered shipbuilding company. Who better to play a handsome son to Javier Bardem than the striking Mark Consuelos? The “Riverdale” actor happens to look excellent in a suit, which is great for the role of David. We choose him, enthusiastically!

Eva Longoria as Elizabeth Stuckey

Credit: Instagram / evalongoria

Philip Stuckey’s charming and persnickety wife should be played by none other than the extravagant Eva Longoria. Her history on “Desperate Housewives” is promising and lets us know she’ll be great and stirring the pot when she gets the chance.

Ricky Martin as Barney Thompson

Credit: Instagram / ricky_martin

Barney’s character has to have a kind of subtle magic and kindness about him, and Ricky Martin’s musical presence would make for the perfect cameo in this remake. Imagine him as the soft-hearted hotel manager that looks out for Vivian throughout it all. He would definitely support her living la vida loca.

Adriana Barraza as Bridget

Credit: Instagram / adrianabarrazaoficial

Having Adriana Barraza as the metaphorical fairy godmother who dresses Vivian for the ball would be a dream come true. Her acting chops are not to be reckoned with, and her style is Latina mom to the max. If she wasn’t in this recast, then who would be? 

Eva Mendes as Susan

Credit: Instagram / evamendes

Eva Mendes would be well-suited as one of Edward’s many ex-girlfriends. She shines as a natural Latina beauty and her long tresses say “I demand more!” We would celebrate her being on set in any capacity, but this one especially lights us up.

Esai Morales as Mark Roth

Credit: Instagram / esai_morales

Who doesn’t need a little bit more Esai Morales in their life? We think he’d make a dreamy addition as Edward’s fellow businessman at his office. He looks good in a suit, he looks good out of a suit and probably looks good in everything in between.

Diane Guerrero as Rachel

Credit: Instagram / @dianexguerrero

Diane Guerrero has a lot of practice being bad in “Orange is the New Black,” and we think she’d make the perfect cameo as Vivian and Kit’s friend, Rachel. She’s got a spunky personality and a great smile, perfect for bringing the girls together after a rough day.

John Leguizamo as Hotel Night Desk Clerk

Credit: Instagram / johnleguizamo

For a little comedic relief, wouldn’t it be great to have the John Leguizamo as the Hotel Night Desk Clerk? Imagine the possibilities – clients ringing the bell only to be delivered one of his snarky wisecracks, or impossibly slow service accompanied by a lecture or a history lesson. It would be the most fun we’ve had with a hotel clerk in a while.

Jennifer Lopez as Snobbish Sales Woman in Dress Store

Credit: Instagram / jlo

Need a mean girl cameo from a classic Latina pop star? Look no further than Jennifer Lopez, or as she’s come to call herself, J.Lo. This stuck up saleswoman role is tempered by the kinder other attendants, so she’ll be the bad guy for a little bit, but admit it  – don’t you love to see J.Lo be a little bad sometimes?

Antonio Banderas as Mr. Hollister, owner of the clothing store

Credit: Instagram / @antoniobanderasoficial

To offset the mean girl antics of a potential Jennifer Lopez cameo, we’ve dreamed up Antonio Banderas as Mr. Hollister, the owner of a clothing store that helps Vivian out in a few key scenes. Mr. Hollister’s grace could be matched easily by Antonio’s well-aged fashion sense.

Tony Revolori as Dennis, Hotel Elevator Operator

Credit: Instagram / tonyrievolori

If there’s going to be a hotel scene in any movie that’s recast with all Latino actors, we’re going have to demand that Tony Revolori, of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” fame, make an appearance. We need him as the calm, cool, collectebellhopop who operates the hotel while the rest of the cast entangles themselves in the usual shenanigans. We seriously love Tony Revolori in his hotel getup and are desperate to see him again.

Benicio Del Toro as the Detective

Credit: Instagram / @johnrussophoto

Finally, we would put the cherry on top of this all-star Latino recast by bringing in Benicio Del Torro as the detective skulking around town, searching for any clues to further hamper the goals of our protagonists. Oddly enough, this role was originally Hank Azaria’s first speaking role. We think we can definitely top that – by making the cameo of a lifetime for a glorious old flame like Benecio. 

READ: ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ Recast To Be The Latino Romantic Comedy We Need In Our Lives

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  1. Seumas Hawkins says:

    Uh so like I’m Latino but I get my witchcraft roots from my white Irish side because check you facts most cultures are rooted in some sort of craft. Look at the old rituals for the ancient Greeks

  2. Mendelsohnn Shape says:

    "Agua de Chocolate?" Surely you meant "Como Agua Para Chocolate." Isabel Allende's work is too famous to be typo'd like this!