It’s Latinx Heritage Month! And you know what that means...
Every corporation will be pandering to the Latinx community for the next two weeks! But, more importantly, Latinx Heritage Month gives us a moment to shine the spotlight on oft-ignored Latinxs. So, let’s take this moment to bring attention to the recent boom of queer Latinx television.
Bet you didn’t know it was a thing currently in motion, did you? It’s okay, not many folks realized that we were experiencing a queer Latinx explosion on television. Alas, it is here! This is the first time LGBT Latinxs have had a chance to relate to more than just one or two supporting characters, as there are now many diverse portrayals of our community.
A disclaimer before diving in: this list only highlights series where either the full cast, or one of the main protagonists, is LGBT and Latinx. While there are shows where LGBT Latinxs exist, that is not enough to consider them LGBT Latinx shows.
The Chisme:Los Espookys (created by Fred Armisen, Ana Fabrega, and Julio Torres) follows four friends as they try to make a buck from their unique business venture: staging spooky and supernatural occurrences for their clients. This deadpan comedy treats the supernatural as mundane, and the mundane as marvelous. As such, the characters’ queerness are treated as non-issues: Andrés (Julio Torres) is a gay man but his main stressor is being pressured to marry his hot boyfriend by his wealthy family; Renaldo (Bernardo Velasco) is suggested to be an asexual man whose biggest obstacle is having enough money to pay his phone bill; and Úrsula (Cassandra Ciangherotti) is a queer woman but her most pressing issue is having to fend off her sister’s loan shark. They exist in an imagined Latin America where LGBT-antagonism does not exist but magic mirrors, water demons do.
Watch if you like:Call Me By Your Name but only for the soundtrack, the quintessential camp of Maya Rudolph as Donatella Versace, Aquariuses, tasteful plot holes, the foreboding aura that previously surrounded your local Hot Topic, and that Halloween costume shop that mysteriously shows up in empty storefronts every year.
The Chisme:Vida (created by Tanya Saracho) is the story of two estranged sisters who reunite to save their family business after their mother dies. The story is set against the backdrop of a continuously gentrified Boyle Heights, which means things get very real, very fast… oh and also very gay. While only one of the two sisters, Emma (Mishel Prada), is explicitly queer, the heterosexual sister, Lyn (Melissa Barrera), continuously finds herself in orgies, eating ass, and pegging “alpha” males. The series’ cup runneth full of queer and kinky sex that would have been voyeuristic under anyone else’s direction, but Saracho’s vision of the female erotic transforms these scenes into important narrative frameworks. Watch, and try not to fall in love with Nico (Roberta Colindrez).
Watch If You Like: putting Valentina on your tacos, blunt bobs, strong Capricorn energies, Selena and Frida themed merchandise, having sex with your ex that you know you shouldn’t be having sex with, and tamarind flavored mimosas.
The Chisme: This groundbreaking series (created by Steven Cannals) should be at the top of everyone’s watch list. Pose focuses on ball culture in the late 80s and early 90s, and serves as a kind of fictionalization of the classic documentary Paris is Burning but with a bit more attention to the HIV crisis and economic boom of the period. Not only does this series honor Black & Latinx LGBT history by spoon feeding it to viewers through delicious drama, but it also makes history by being the first series to have five Black Trans leads: MJ Rodriuez, Dominique Jackson, Hailee Sahar, Indya Moore, and Angelica Ross. But, the cherry on top of this delightful show is Billy Porter’s Emmy-winning turn as Pray Tell, the protagonists’ father figure and lifesource of the ball.
Watch If You Like: rooting for the villain, a sensible five inch heel, vintage Thierry Mugler, having a healthy relationship with your Cancer mother, talking smack about Madonna while privately listening to "Confessions On A Dancefloor," when Ryan Murphy doesn’t throw everything and the kitchen sink into a series, and an obscene amount of glitter.
One Day At A Time
The Chisme: Gloria Calderon Kellet’s Latinx reboot of One Day At A Time has only three things in common with its predecessor: they’re both about a single mother raising her family, their opening theme song, and they both have hunky handy-men named Schneider. Other than that, this version of ODAAT (as fans call it) carefully and humorously handles contemporary issues such as: explaining the X in Latinx to your abuelita, coming out to conservative parents, gender diversity, and mental health in Latinx communities. ODAAT even has a family friendly episode about consent between queer teenagers that many of us could have only dreamed of witnessing in our youth. The series treats LGBT folks as a part of everyday life- blink and you’ll miss Trans and lesbian characters in the Penelope’s (Justina Machado) support group- which shouldn’t be rare anymore, alas it is. While the series might be a little too sentimental for some bitter Judies, it is nonetheless a necessary watch for kids and families today.
Watch If You Like: Rita Moreno’s Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, AND her Tony; low stakes family conflict, laugh tracks, high budget after-school specials, Virgo’s excessive need to organize, The Miami Sound Machine, puns, and the false promise of the American dream.
Honorable Mention: Casa de Flores
Casa de Flores is, by most measures, a fantastic show. An inversion of telenovela drama that is part Arrested Development, part Desperate Housewives, and an all around gay ol’ time. However, I cannot in good conscience recommend the show given that they cast a cisgender man to play a Transgender woman; as this is a harmful trope that tells audiences that Trans women are merely men in dresses. While some would argue that Latin America is simply repeating the mistakes all media outlets make when initially attempting to bring Trans representation to wide audiences; this completely ignores the efforts by Trans activists in Latin America to end these harmful practices and begin hiring Trans people.
Honorable Mention: My Favorite Shapes
Listen, I am always here to hype up Julio Torres’ absurdist comedy. But, My Favorite Shapes is just a tad bit too out there to earnestly recommend. Plus, I already have one Julio Torres show on the list and anymore would probably be some sort of stan nepotism. Acquaint yourself with his approach to humor by first watching the aforementioned Los Espookys or his bits on The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon.
Honorable Mention: El Corazon Nunca Se Equivoca
Yes, it is Mexico’s first telenovela about a gay couple. But, I haven’t watched it and you can’t make me!