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Yes, being Latino in the US is hot. Smoking hot right now, so it is not surprising that major media outlets will capitalize on this momentous demographic shift in the US population.

Enter Telemundo, the second largest Spanish-language station in the US. Premiering this May 1 on mun2, Telemundo’s hip channel for the younger Latino crowd, RPM Miami, is being billed as the country’s first-ever bilingual series (not an accurate statement, which we will show later in this post). Unfortunately, just like the car chases that will dominate the series, the show’s premise is all speed and no substance.

And Telemundo will fail. We give the show maybe a few weeks before the channel pulls the plug on it.

Here are our reasons:

  • Once again, we see hot and sexy (and white) Latinos in a world of corruption, crime, and intrigue. Revenge is the theme. This plot plays like a bad Mexican B movie. As we battle stereotypes about Latinos, shame on Telemundo for perpetuating them.
  • Miami. Fact check: Latinos are everywhere. As one Facebook commentator said: “And why oh why does the setting have to be Miami? (not hating on the city. I love me some Miami) But it’s such a cliche; it’s as if Miami (hot, steamy, spicy Miami) — and parts of NYC/LA — are the only geographic areas acknowledged to have Latino populations. Newsflash: we’re everywhere!!!” We agree.
So, Telemundo, why? Why, when you had a golden opportunity to bring a truly ground-breaking bilingual show, you choose the same old tired formula? Sure, it’s probably because your demographic demands it and expects, but we think you have a responsibility to at least try more original programming that would actually appeal to a greater audience, instead of limiting it to your core base.
Which is why we think that PBS got it right with its new series, Black in Latin America, hosted by Harvard professor (and former Obama beer buddy) Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The series, which premiered this month, explores a topic that been ignored for centuries: the influence of the African diaspora during the era of the slave trade and how it has influenced Latin America. We applaud PBS for taking a gamble and hitting a blackjack. This four-episode series will quickly become MUST SEE TV for anyone interested in Latino issues. Here is a synopsis of the series:

Haiti & the Dominican Republic: An Island Divided In the Dominican Republic, Professor Gates explores how race has been socially constructed in a society whose people reflect centuries of inter-marriage, and how the country’s troubled history with Haiti informs notions about racial classification. In Haiti, Professor Gates tells the story of the birth of the first-ever black republic, and finds out how the slaves’s hard fought liberation over Napoleon Bonaparte’s French Empire became a double-edged sword.

Cuba: The Next Revolution In Cuba Professor Gates finds out how the culture, religion, politics and music of this island are inextricably linked to the huge amount of slave labor imported to produce its enormously profitable 19th century sugar industry, and how race and racism have fared since Fidel Castro’s Communist revolution in 1959.

Brazil: A Racial Paradise? In Brazil, Professor Gates delves behind the façade of Carnival to discover how this ‘rainbow nation’ is waking up to its legacy as the world’s largest slave economy.

Mexico & Peru: A Hidden Race In Mexico and Peru Professor Gates explores the almost unknown history of the significant numbers of black people—the two countries together received far more slaves than did the United States —brought to these countries as early as the 16th and 17th centuries, and the worlds of culture that their descendants have created in Vera Cruz on the Gulf of Mexico, the Costa Chica region on the Pacific, and in and around Lima, Peru.

So while stereotypical Latinos will be screeching their tires on the streets of Miami, our DVR will be cued up to Professor Gates’ series. That is our revenge.

PS to Telemundo: Your new show is not the first bilingual TV series. That honor goes to ¿Qué pasa, USA?, a sitcom that ran on PBS from 1977 to 1980. Yes, it was a show ahead of its time. Unlike Miami RPM.

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