Five Latinx designer movies and TV shows to check out during Hispanic Heritage Month. Photo courtesy of progresstexas.org
CODY ESTEP | STAFF JOURNALIST | [email protected]
With Hispanic National Heritage Month well underway, Butler’s students shared their thoughts on some of the movies and TV shows made and inspired by Latinx. Here are five must-see movies and TV shows made and performed by members of the Latinx community.
“On my block”
This teenage comedy-drama TV show – now available on Netflix – follows a quartet of adorable misfits as they learn to face the challenges of high school and teenage years. Relationships are put to the test as the four friends – Monse, Jamal, Ruby and Cesar – encounter moments of love, triumph, pain and struggles they have never experienced before. First-year music industry major Arie Likhtman loved the show because of its truthful and raw writing.
“I liked ‘On My Block’ specifically because it presented more real perspectives,” Likhtman said. “It’s become difficult to watch, but like in a good way.”
The show takes place in a predominantly Hispanic and black neighborhood, which highlights unique social issues. While staying true to its comedic heart, the show tackles difficult issues such as gang violence, drug addiction and racism.
“Roma” was inspired by director Alfonso Cuarón’s own childhood. Cuarón even dressed the film set with real furniture from his childhood home.
The film follows Cleo, a domestic worker from a Mexican family. She takes care of the four children while helping the parents with many household chores. Complications begin when Cleo’s foster family begins to separate and she finds out that she is pregnant.
“Roma” is a story of love and trust. Through its writing and its characters, Cuarón’s screenplay leaves the viewer wondering about the meaning of true family.
Cuarón was the first Latinx to receive the Oscar for Best Director for the film “Gravity” in 2014. Five years later he made history again with “Roma” receiving a second nomination and a second victory for the best director. Although the original film is in Spanish, there are plenty of resources for non-Spanish speakers such as subtitles and dubbed versions to enjoy the film as well.
“Joan the Virgin”
“Jane the Virgin” is a loose English adaptation of the Venezuelan telenovela “Juana la Virgen”. The show features a star cast made up almost exclusively of Latinx actors and is written by a team of Latinx writers. It also features a strong female role, Jane played by Gina Rodriguez, as she navigates the winding paths of love, betrayal, family, and pregnancy. The student butlers were pleasantly surprised by the addition of this title.
Graham Chen, a first-year finance major, said he had never heard of “Jane the Virgin” before.
“Maybe I had seen a commercial or two for it, but I had never watched it,” Chen said. “I just didn’t think it would be something I would be interested in.”
After talking about the series, Chen was interested in taking a closer look at the series. For many students, the series hadn’t even crossed their radar. On the contrary, Dr. Gina Forrest, Executive Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, expressed different remarks.
“I saw everything [the shows and movies] you’ve listed and have more to add, like “Party of Five,” Forrest said.
She recommended any student interested in Latinx culture, community, or media to contact the Latinx Student Union here at Butler University.
The American TV series is very similar to many Spanish telenovela series, drawing a lot from the genre. The series differs from American television in many ways. “Jane the Virgin” uses many techniques and clichés from Spanish telenovelas, providing a truly unique experience for many American viewers.
Even more than twenty years after its release, “Selena” still holds a special place in hearts around the world. This biographical drama follows the life of singer-songwriter Selena Quintanilla. The film continues through Selena’s life as she discovers her love for singing and performance. Chen first watched “Selena” in college Spanish class.
“I liked the family aspect of the film. It was cool that it introduced me to a different culture that I had never really experienced before, ”Chen said.
In the film, Selena, played by Jennifer Lopez, faces many challenges as she tries to balance her connection to her Latinx heritage and her desire to produce American music. She faces racial discrimination on both sides of the US-Mexico border, forbidden love with her group mate, and family struggles as she becomes more and more famous.
A Netflix original, “Elite” follows the lives of three working-class teens who enroll in an exclusive private school. The show is set in Spain and is produced in Spanish, but Netflix provides plenty of resources, such as English subtitles and dubbing options, for the enjoyment of audiences of all languages. Alexander Bullock, a sophomore arts administration student, said he was a huge fan of foreign television and films.
“[One of the] The highest-ranking Latinx TV productions for me right now are “Elite”, ”Bullock said.
Bullock was impressed with the diversity of the show. Not only is it produced by an almost entirely Latinx cast, but it also includes storylines featuring LGBTQ characters and relationships.
“Television of this nature is very enjoyable because it offers diversity,” added Bullock.
While offering a dramatic storyline that ends in murder, the show tackles important social issues such as financial discrimination, sexual orientation and teenage browsing. Bullock praised the show and said it was one of his favorite foreign film creations.
September is a time to recognize and celebrate Latinx culture in all mediums. So grab a blanket, pop some popcorn, and sit back somewhere cozy to enjoy these great movies and TV shows created by Latinx artists.