News

TV dramas and sitcoms are suddenly all about immigration

Originally published by The Washington Post

A number of television shows revolving around immigration began cropping up as Donald Trump rose to the presidency. Since Trump took office, his administration has ramped up deportations and cracked down on illegal immigration in communities across the country.

Popular shows such as “Superstore,” “Jane the Virgin” and Fresh Off the Boat” recently tackled stories about undocumented immigrants. And several networks announced upcoming new shows focused on immigration.

CBS announced “In the Country We Love,” a drama about a corporate attorney who begins taking on cases for undocumented immigrants. And the CW is developing “Casa,” which focuses on six Latino siblings who struggle when their parents are deported.

The trend also extends to three reboots of favorite television programs that spent years — in one case decades — off the air and never discussed immigration in their original runs.

“Roswell”

The popular CW show “Roswell,” which featured bona fide movie stars Katherine Heigl and Colin Hanks, mixed teen high school drama with a story about space aliens living secretly in Roswell, N.M. During its run from 1999 to 2002, the show was praised by critics who pointed to its thoughtful mixture of genres: romance, coming-of-age, science-fiction and mystery.

Creator Jason Katims told Complex that what attracted him to the show was “this theme of alienation,” a theme that could easily be expanded to include immigrants in the United States.

Despite its setting in a border state, the show never tackled the subject of immigration. That’s about to change with the CW’s reboot of the show, which is in the early stages of development, Entertainment Weekly reported.

The program will follow the daughter of undocumented immigrants who returns to her hometown Roswell, where she becomes reacquainted with a high school crush. He’s now a police officer and also a space alien.

The story offers a twist the traditional immigrant story by making the alien cop the one running from the government, as the U.S. employs “the politics of fear and hatred” to threaten his safety, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“Party of Five”

 

“Party of Five, a Fox drama starring Neve Campbell and pre-“Lost” Matthew Fox, followed five siblings who came together after their parents were killed by a drunk driver. It ran for six seasons from 1994 to 2000, focusing on topics as wide-ranging as domestic violence, alcoholism and abortion.

The show sought to usurp stereotypes and to turn “standard expectations about a family of orphans on its head,” co-creator Amy Lippman told the Los Angeles Times in 2000.

“We really liked the idea that the oldest sibling was not the most responsible and that the most ‘maternal’ character was not a girl,” she added.

Now, Lippman and co-creator Chris Keyser are readying a reboot of the popular series that will revolve around a first-generation Latino family that has immigrated to the United States and the difficulties they face trying to adjust to a new country. There’s no word on if it will be set in modern day America, and the fate of the parents is being “kept under wraps,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“One Day At a Time”

Norman Lear’s popular sitcom “One Day at a Time,” featuring Mackenzie Phillips, Valerie Bertinelli and Bonnie Franklin, followed a divorced mom as she struggled to raise two teenage daughters on her own. It was a bold show when it premiered in 1975, since television programs centering on a single mother were sill a rarity.

Lear updated it for the reboot, which landed on Netflix in January, to reflect modern America. Like the “Party of Five” reboot, it swapped its white family for a Latino one, specifically the Cuban-American Alvarezes. The main character is still a single mother, who lives with her two children. But now she’s joined by her mother, who emigrated from Cuba.

One of the main plotlines running through the 13 new episodes focuses on an undocumented immigrant one of the children befriends. The  family tries to do the right thing, but they’re not sure what that is. Rather than offer an easy, digestible solution, though, the characters — all Cuban — argue about American policies surrounding immigration. Not what most would expect from a sitcom.

Lear often injected his shows with progressive ideals, so his focus on immigration shouldn’t be surprising. Especially given how outspoken he was about the issue throughout the presidential campaign.

Read more: www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/10/13/tv-dramas-and-sitcoms-are-suddenly-all-about-immigration/?hpid=hp_hp-morning-mix_mm-television%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.5ac55438604a

Leave a Reply