One Day At A Time still

Source: Netflix / Netflix

After the recent cancellation of both The Get Down and East Los High, we’re quickly realizing that the breadth of depictions of Latinidad in Netflix and Hulu originals is toeing an even slimmer line than usual.

Read: Almost non-existent.

While the two shows will hopefully live on the Internet for years to come, each brought very raw and intricate layers of what Latinx people look like into our homes. East Los High remains as the first and only original series with an all Latinx cast, creators, and writers about a group of teens growing up in East Los Angeles. The story covered topics that were relevant to the community (teen pregnancy, domestic violence, etc.) in ways that were relatable instead of condescending, tip-toeing a very fine line that can only come with writers who have an innate obligation to the culture.

While East Los High stuck around for four seasons, The Get Down only received one. In the aftermath, we have two Latinx Netflix originals left: One Day at a Time and Narcos.

The Get Down came into our lives as a Nuyorican masterpiece — a return to the roots of hip hop in a way that has never been shown before. Our Afro-Latinx lead, Ezekiel “Books” Figuero, championed what it meant to be “young, gifted, and Black” in a time where the Bronx as he knew it literally burned to the ground around him. We witnessed the parts in which Latinx played in the rise of hip hop in a wholehearted, self-sacrificing way.

While East Los High stuck around for four seasons, The Get Down only received one. In the aftermath, we have two Latinx Netflix originals left: One Day at a Time and Narcos.

The stark difference between the two that were cancelled and the two that remain is off-putting but not unsurprising. One Day at a Time tells the story of a single Cuban mom with two kids and their grandmother, a constant pull and tug between traditional Latinx values and the second generation experience. The show ultimately succeeds at telling a heartwarming story rooted in humor and culture, but we can’t overlook a few of things.

The first is pretty obvious: the show is overwhelmingly white. With a white Latinx family and their goofy Anglo neighbor, it’s starkly devoid of diversity. The only Black person we see on the show is Jill, Penelope’s friend and recurring character who basically serves as a sassy sidekick trope.

Meanwhile Narcos is a show about one of the main stereotypes that a general audience has of Latinx folks: the notion that the men are drug dealers, and the women just use their sex appeal to get ahead. The show depicts the rise and fall of real-life Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. Escobar is seen as the evil contrast to the white “heroic” DEA agents who are working to track him down.

It’s disturbing to see which stories of Latinx people are deemed worthy of continuing, and those that are forcibly short-lived. The two that were recently canceled showed an audience the reality of what Black and brown kids are faced with in their coming-of-age experiences. The complexities of those experiences, while not normalized, were validated. In both shows, we saw ourselves represented in all of the different colors, shapes, and sizes that are authentic to our communities.

The shows that are being continuously renewed are more palatable to a mainstream (read: white) audience because it fits into their ideas of the Latinx community. The notions that won Trump the election: that Latinx people are either foreigners who are criminals, hyper-sexual deviants, or model minorities who are “just like them.” While it’s easy to place the blame on our favorite streaming sites, we can’t always be completely devoid of responsibility.

It’s disturbing to see which stories of Latinx people are deemed worthy of continuing, and those that are forcibly short-lived.

We obviously can’t cape for every single show that has a Black and brown cast, however we can use our voice to encourage conversation about them. If you didn’t like The Get Down, start a conversation on Twitter about it. The commentary and ideas of the audience are valued more than we’d like to believe. It’s a matter of letting the writers, producers and talent know how our communities deserve to be represented and supporting the depictions we have while we have them.