Representation of Latinos in media is of the utmost importance. Kids should grow up seeing people of their culture, race, and identity on TV screens, and on movie screens. Latinxs should be included in pop culture, in all our forms, and all its forms. By doing this, equality begins to happen in Hollywood, a place where shows have featured a majority of all-white casts for decades and non-Latinos have played us in film after film.
Progress is not just inclusion. It’s seeing Latinos on screen as more than only maids and janitors. As more than only dark-haired, light-skinned actors and characters. To see Latinos as heroes, leaders, trailblazers, the girl next door, the leading man, and anything else we’d like to be. To see several Latinos on one show or in a movie. The following 13 shows gave us the chance to see Latinos on television, making them a major source of orgullo.
I Love Lucy
The classic television show I Love Lucy was way ahead of its time. It was the first time we saw an intercultural couple on TV. Cubano Desi Arnaz was on equal billing as his wife, celebrated his Cuban culture, and shared it with the world.
In 1993, 30 episodes of the show Culture Clash put Chicanos front and center on TV. The comedy sketch show, which aired on FOX, had several Latino guest stars, including Rita Moreno, Jimmy Smits, Edward James Olmos, Dolores Huerta, and Cypress Hill.
Washington Heights was a reality show, set in the New York neighborhood, that aired in 2013. It followed a group of young Dominican (primarily) friends, as they live their lives and follow their dreams. It only lasted 11 episodes; some loved the show, while others hated it. However, it was a step towards more shows highlighting Latinx life.
East Los High
Airing from 2013 to 2017, East Los was a teen drama about a group of kids attending East Los High School in Los Angeles. It has Hulu’s first and only show with an all-Latino cast and crew, which is a major thing.
A short-lived show that still managed to leave its mark on pop culture was Condo. The sitcom lasted only 13 episodes, but introduced America to the Montoya family, who had moved on up to a nicer neighborhood. They are directly next door to the Kirkridge family, who just moved in next door after downsizing. What ensues is a look at how people of two different backgrounds struggle to get along.
House of Buggin’
Back in the day, John Leguizamo and Luis Guzman were making us laugh on House of Buggin’. The sketch comedy aired for one season in 1995. It also starred Jorge Luis Abreu, Tammi Cubilette, David Herman, and Yelba Osorio.
Empire Girls: Julissa and Adrienne
You may watch Adrienne Bailon Haughton on The Real now, but do you remember her reality show, Empire Girls: Julissa and Adrienne? The show, which aired in 2012, only lasted 10 episodes, but it was empowering to see two young, successful, Latinas (Bermudez is Dominican, Bailon Haughton is half Puerto Rican and half Ecuadorian) BFFs taking New York by storm.
George Lopez Show
George Lopez has been making us laugh—while also making us think—for what seems like forever. Although he has starred in two other shows (talk show Lopez Tonight and Lopez), the one that started it all was the George Lopez Show. The hilarious sitcom (2002-2007) showcased several funny Latinx characters, actually played by Latinxs, and showed that comedy was something that we as a people could bring to primetime.
Chico and the Man
Chico and the Man was another show that took Latinx comedy to primetime—three decades earlier. Like Condo, it centered around cultural differences between whites (Ed Brown, the Man) and Latinos. It co-starred Nuyorican-German comedian and actor Freddie Prinze, who played Chicano and Puerto Rican Chico Hernandez. Chico and the Man was the first American TV show to be set in a Mexican-American neighborhood.
Greetings From Tucson
Greetings from Tucson aired for 22 episodes, from 2002 to 2003. The sitcom, centered around the Tiant family, led by a Chicano father and Irish-American mother, who just moved into a better neighborhood. Greetings from Tucson was based on the life of the show’s creator, Peter Murrieta, and tackles subjects including cultural identity, class, and stereotypes. The cast was mostly Latinx.
The Brothers Garcia
Like we previously mentioned, it’s important for kids to see themselves and their culture(s) represented on TV and in film. The Brother’s Garcia (narrated by John Leguizamo) was such an opportunity. The teen sitcom aired on Nickelodeon for four seasons, and focused around a Chicano family in San Antonio.
In 1984, Latino comedy legend Paul Rodriguez had his own show, called a.k.a. Pablo. It aired on ABC for only six episodes, and centered on the life of stand-up comic Paul “Pablo” Rivera and his Mexican-American family. This included his traditional parents, who didn’t approve of the jokes Pablo told about his own heritage. The cast of a.k.a. Pablo also included Katy Jurado and Mario Lopez.
First Time Out
First Time Out was a sitcom that aired on The WB in 1995, lasting 12 episodes. It was about Jackie (played by Jackie Guerra), a Yale graduate who both attends law school and owns a hair salon in Los Angeles. She lives with her friends as they navigate career, love, and life together, in a show that drew comparisons to Living Single. The network stated that Guerra was “the first Latina to star in her own series.”