Last night’s audience for the premiere of the Latino themed ¡Rob! ignored TV critics urging them to stay away from the show for its dull plot line and stereotypical portrayal of Latinos.
The show actually gave CBS its best numbers for a regularly scheduled program in its time slot since May 2010, according to The Wrap.
I watched and the familia watched and we weren’t overly offended or overly underwhelmed and actually had a few good laughs watching. A big draw for many Latino TV watchers was Eugenio Derbez, portraying cousin Hector.
Even though Hector, portrayed the most negative Latino stereotype – an illegal immigrant who is ‘never leaving’ and is here to take advantage where ever he can - Hector was one of the funnier characters on the show.
Derbez is a super-star in Mexico and a large draw for Latino audiences and it is something CBS knew when casting him.
The show, developed by Rob Schneider and Lew Morton, is about lifelong bachelor Rob marrying into Maggie’s tight knit Mexican-American family. However, the main focus is not newlywed woes, not how a vertically challenged neurotic guy got the hot babe but rather her American Mexicanisms.
Interestingly this is fiction imitating life, because Schneider married a Mexican television producer last year. The show takes snippets from Schneider’s life with Patricia Azarcoya Arce but has more of a Mexican-American feel than Mexican to make the show more relatable to U.S. Latino audiences.
Only Maggie’s Abuelita character played by veteran actress Lupe Ontiveros, speaks no English.
The show, as critics noted, did not shy away from stereotypical images (tequila shots, spicy guacamole, crazed Catholicism) or Spanish slangs (mamita, papi,) but to it’s credit it also did not shy away from controversial and sensitive racial issues like immigration and the border fence.
Best to get those things out there and let them go to the background of the pilot line if the show is to have long-term success.
The cast consists of a predominantly Latino cast which is very unusual and includes Cheech Marin as Maggie’s dad, her mom is played by Diana Rivera Riva and Maggie is played by Spanish actress Claudia Bassols. Interestingly Bassols was one of Maxim’s Sexiest Women Alive who happens to elope with ‘Deuce Bigalow’ Schneider – is this a stretch or what??
The show, in spite of its universal panning, received the support of the very influential Latino rights advocacy organization MALDEF. MALDEF sents its vast database of supports and email urging them to watch the premiere and clearly they did.
The support for the show from MALDEF and its Latino audience is due in great part to the pleasure of seeing a Latino-themed television series on prime time and on an English-language TV network, even if its sophomoric humor with a not fully developed plot line.