Last week’s series finale of Ugly Betty got me thinking about the lack of diversity on television, particularly as it concerns Latin stars. So I decided to take a look at how good (or bad) of a job each major TV network does representing Latinos on their channel. Join me during the next couple of weeks as I channel Edward James Olmos in Stand and Deliver to find out if NBC, FOX, CBS, The CW, HBO, Showtime, and TBS make the grade. First up? ABC.
ABC is, of course, the network that canceled Ugly Betty—the only show on American television to portray a Latino family since The George Lopez Show (which also ran on ABC, and was also prematurely canceled—hmm, I'm noticing a theme here). But before you start throwing rocks at ABC, let’s see how the network fares overall in its portrayal of nuestra gente.
While grading ABC, I noticed that in comparison to other networks, they have plenty(!) of Latin stars. For instance, Lost—which once starred Michelle Rodriguez—has two Latinos in starring roles: Cuban actor, Nestor Carbonell as Richard Alpert, and part-Cuban, part-Chilean actor Jorge Garcia as Hugo “Hurley” Reyes. Lost is one of ABC’s signature shows—and one of the most important television shows of all-time—so to have two Latinos in starring roles is great!
ABC is also the network that cast Colombian beauty, Sofia Vergara as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett in their hit comedy, Modern Family. And there’s plenty more where that came from: Brazilian actress, Morena Baccarin plays one of the lead roles in ABC’s alien invasion drama, V, Argentinean actress, Sonya Walger—a Lost alum—plays the lead role of Dr. Olivia Benford on Flash Forward, Puerto Rican actor Ian Gomez (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) plays Andy Torres on ABC’s hit comedy, Cougar Town, and Mexican actress, Sara Ramirez stars as Dr. Callie Torres on Grey’s Anatomy. Puerto Rican actor, Jon Huertas has a lead roles as Det. Javier Esposito on Castle, and of course, there's Eva Longoria Parker, who has played Gaby Solis on the hit series, Desperate Housewives for six seasons now. That's a lot of lead roles for Latinos when compared to the other major networks, but it's still not enough.
Looking ahead at next year’s new shows, ABC seems to be continuing the trend of casting Latinos in lead roles. My homegirl Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty) will star in their new mystery series, True Blue, and Argentinean actress Mia Maestro landed the lead in Cutthroat, a show about an upscale Beverly Hills widow and soccer mom who runs an international drug cartel. They also cast my favorite Cuban actress, Joanna Garcia (Privileged), in the lead role of a yet-to-be-titled comedy from the producers of Friends.
ABC’s Final Grade: A-
Why not an A, you ask? Well, while ABC seems to be dedicated to making their network diverse, they lose some points for canceling Ugly Betty—a show that means a lot to the Latino community, and could’ve gone on for several more seasons. Maybe if a network manages to cast Latinos in 15% of the roles on their channel (to accurately reflect the current population of the country) they will win an A from me, but until then...
Check back next week to see how NBC does!