Entertainment

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

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 “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

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As A Latin Music Fan, Here Are My Picks For The 2020 Latin Grammys

Entertainment

As A Latin Music Fan, Here Are My Picks For The 2020 Latin Grammys

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Last year’s Latin Grammys caused an uproar on social media after the nominees list was released. Many fans and artists noticed the lack of representation of the Reggaeton music genre. “Sin reggaeton no hay Latin Grammy,” read many of the posts on social media, but this year seems to be different. 

This year’s nominees accurately represent the changing culture in Latin music as it shifts more towards the reggaeton genre. Here are my top picks for some of my favorite categories. 

Record of the Year

Record of the Year is always one of the toughest picks as many of my favorite songs are included in this category. This year it seems pretty competitive as Bad Bunny’s Vete competes with Karol G and Nicki Minaj’s Tusa. Karol G is competing against herself with the song China by Anuel AA, Daddy Yankee, Karol G, Featuring Ozuna and J Balvin. But at the end, Tusa by Karol G and Nicki Minaj should take the win as the overall production of the song is what makes it so great. From the rhythm to the lyrics, Tusa deserves the Grammy. 

Album of the Year

In 2019, we had a lack of reggaeton nominees in this category, but this year the list includes two reggaeton superstars: Bad Bunny and J Balvin. Both are nominated for their joint album OASIS and their solo albums, Colores and YHLQMDLG. To me, it’s clear that the winner of this category will be Bad Bunny with YHLQMDLG. The 20-song album delivered Latin trap with a variety of moods, whether it was a post-breakup heartbreak, our on-pause summer anthems, or the heartfelt thank you at the end. This album was highly anticipated and it delivered.

Best New Artist

The top contestants in this category are Anuel AA,  Rauw Alejandro, and Cazzu. While Rauw Alejandro has had some big hits this year, such as “El Efecto,” “Tattoo,” “Elegi,” and “TBT,” it is very likely that Anuel AA will take the Grammy home. Anuel AA was snubbed from a best new artist nomination last year, but he has been very successful since then which shows his growth as a new artist. 

Song of the Year

While there are many great songs nominated in this category, “ADMV” by Maluma stands out the most. The song was released during quarantine and was written by the artist as a dedication to all the people in his life that he loves. The song, which touches upon love and growing old with one’s significant other is a very heartfelt balada and one that gives us a whole new side to Maluma. The lyrics of the song and the overall composition gives us all the feels and reminds us to hug our loved ones a little tighter and tell them that we love them. 

Best Regional Song 

The top nominees in this genre include Christian Nodal with AYAYAY! and Natalia Lafourcade con MI RELIGIÓN. While I am a huge fan of Natalia Lafourcade, Christian Nodal will most likely take the win with this upbeat and modern song. What makes the song work for Nodal is that it is still rooted in the regional genre. 

Best Short Form Music Video

If you haven’t seen J.Balvin’s video for Rojo, please do yourself a favor and watch it now! But be prepared with tissues, this video delivers pain, acceptance, and even a message to its viewers. The video starts with Balvin receiving the news that his daughter was born, as he rushes to the hospital on the phone with his mom, he crashes and dies. But he is not conscious of his death and his spirit makes it to the hospital. The rest of the video shows Balvin following the life of his daughter as she grows up. This video delivers an exceptional story in less than 5 minutes and is a grammy-winning performance. 

To see who will win be sure to tune in! The 21st annual Latin Grammys will air on Univision, Nov. 19, 2020.

READ: Maluma Is Keeping Us Up To Date On His Life In Quarantine And I Couldn’t Be More Grateful

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Latino Shows On Quibi Are Up In The Air After Platform Announces Shutdown

Entertainment

Latino Shows On Quibi Are Up In The Air After Platform Announces Shutdown

Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images for Quibi

Quibi, a short-form streaming platform, offered a variety of content from news shows to comedy to action and more. The streaming service that was launched six months ago, announced that it would be shutting down due to a lack of success in gaining traction with subscribers. It is unknown if the shows on the platform will be renewed on different platforms or canceled.  Here are some Latin shows that were offered on Quibi.

“Thanks A Million”

“Thanks A Million,” executive produced by Jennifer Lopez, first aired on Quibi on April 6, 2020. The show follows celebrities as they kickstart a chain of kindness by gifting money to an individual who must then give half of it to someone else. The first episode features J.Lo herself. Other episodes feature Gabriel Iglesias, Kristen Bell,  Anthony Davis, Kevin Hart, Nick Jonas, and more.

“Flipped”

“Flipped” is an American comedy series that debuted on Quibi, April 6, 2020. The cast includes Latino stars Arturo Castro, Eva Longoria, and Andy Garcia. The show is about a couple who get into the house-flipping business and are kidnapped by drug cartel members and forced to renovate their homes.

“Nikki Fre$h”

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Clean water access, but make it sexy. #NikkiFresh

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Nicole Richie executively produced and starred in “Nikki Fre$h.”  It is a six-episode series on Quibi in which Richie plays her musical persona ““Nikki Fre$h,” a trap artist who makes eco-conscious choices while performing music videos. A couple of the special guests include Bill Nye, the science guy, and Lionel Richie. 

“Pulse News by Telemundo”

Not only does Quibi offer tv shows, but it also offers news. “Pulse News by Telemundo” is a newscast, hosted by Andrea Martinez, that is catered to the English-speaking Latino community. It has aired daily on the streaming platform since the launch of Quibi.

“For the Cultura by Telemundo”

Another Telemundo based news show is “For the Cultura by Telemundo.” It is a Latino-focused entertainment and music news show that is co-hosted by Alfredo Lomeli and Krystal Vega. Like “Pulse News,” the entertainment based news show airs daily. 

“Alternatino with Arturo Castro”

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Happy Mother's Day!

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The American sketch comedy series created by and starring Arturo Castro is not currently on Quibi. It had its first season on Comedy Central and was renewed for a second season and would move to Quibi. The series is described as a “a sketch show based on Arturo’s experiences as a Latino millennial in the United States.” The status of the show is currently unknown due to the shut down of the mobile device streaming platform. 

“Natural Born Narco”

The tv drama is supposed to premiere in fall 2020 as a collaboration between Quibi and Telemundo. The series chronicles the origins of the drug lord Amado Carrillo Fuentes and is inspired by and serves as a prequel to the acclaimed telenovela, El Señor de Los Cielos. The status of the telenovela-like series is unknown due to the shutdown news.

Quibi expects to shut down the streaming service around December 1, 2020.

READ: Arturo Castro’s ‘Alternatino’ Finds New Home With QuiBi Leaving Comedy Central

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