Latina Power & Generational Healing in ‘Lopez vs. Lopez’ Season Two

Show runner Debby Wolfe and stars Mayan Lopez and Selenis Leyva are tackling serious topics with their signature brand of humor

Debby Wolfe Mayan Lopez Selenis Leyva

Photos: Nicole Weingart/NBC Credit: NBC | Courtesy

In season two of Lopez vs. Lopez starring George Lopez and his real-life daughter, Mayan, 28, the new title sequence features the duo recreating old photos and that reconnection of the past and present is a major theme of season two. Though their relationship has always been at the core of the series, it’s this new step toward healing that plays a big part in this latest season which premiered April 2. The reemergence of George Lopez on television was spearheaded by showrunner and an executive producer Debby Wolfe after seeing Mayan’s TikToks with George. The videos sparked the idea for a series centered on their dynamic and with the father-daughter duo on board the show was eventually picked up by NBC. Over the span of 22 episodes, audiences got a peek into their dynamic tackling topics like anxiety, appropriation, and gaslighting with George’s signature brand of humor. This season the show picks up with George, who is now sober, and his family is adjusting to what that means for everyone.

True to form, this season doesn’t shy away from serious topics including sobriety, marital strife, and family secrets while still dropping one-liners (at one point George calls Cheech as a curandero “Chicano Buddha”). At the core is Mayan’s relationship with George, one that began the healing process amid the Covid-19 pandemic after a decade of not speaking to each other. Lopez vs. Lopez tackles the highs and lows of their relationship, something you don’t see often within the Latinx community but that hasn’t stopped them from being so open.

“I think that is what is at the core, really, we haven’t reached a point of something being off limits. My parents have been divorced for over a decade. And I think that’s where the majority of our stuff kind of began. And I’ve had a lot of acceptance of him since then. So I think that’s partly why we want to be so open about is that the hope is that our community, or anyone watching Lopez vs. Lopez. George being such a public figure, someone that they respect and they love, if they’re going through something like that then it can make it less of a less of a stigma, or maybe give you more competence that you can do that in your own life.”

In the first episode we see George coping with his sobriety and each family member addressing their own addictions in order to better understand his struggle. This vulnerability extends to real-life as George has been open about confronting his past mistakes and working on their relationship and how the show plays into that. “To be a father is a very special thing,” he said on the Jennifer Hudson show. “To be estranged from you child is the worst thing ever and for the first time in my life, I owned up to my mistakes and I’m lucky Mayan took me back into her life and a little bit of the show is about that.”

LOPEZ VS LOPEZ — “Lopez vs Sobriety” Episode 201 — Pictured: (l-r) George Lopez as George, Mayan Lopez as Mayan — (Photo by: Nicole Weingart/NBC)

This feeling goes both ways with Mayan recognizing how the show has allows them to unpack their issues and consequently grow together even as they joke about their differences. We see Mayan confronting George about the ways she felt he failed her throughout her life and while he’s understanding, he’s also quick to remind her not blame him for everything. It’s moments like this that clearly stem from a real place and is indicative of how the rest of the season will go as their dynamic evolves.

“It’s very interesting, because I think, at least with Mayan this season, I had to kind of change my idea of my dad as he started to grow and actually take some advice from probably our plethora of therapy sessions that we’ve had over the years. But I think with George and Mayan, in this season, they’re seeing each other in a different light and giving each other chances.”

But it’s not just George’s evolution that’s front and center, we’re seeing Mayan continue to explore who she is as a Latina, a wife, a mother, and a daughter. Last year her character was open about taking medication for anxiety, exploring her Latinidad, and confronting generational trauma.This season we’re seeing her coping with job loss, gender roles within marriage, and learning to let go of resentment she held for George’s failures as a dad.

“With Mayan it’s kind of overcoming how she views her father and the alcoholism, and just really kind of allowing her father to grow and kind of going through past that generational trauma. I think our generation, or at least the younger Latines, are very much wanting to put that in the forefront. And I think Mayan has been going through that this season of just really trying to create her own family and what that means for her as a Latina today.”

The celebration and exploration of Mayan’s Latinidad and her roots on the show, a mix of Mexican, Dominican, and Cuban, is an aspect of the show that Selenis Leyva, who plays her mom Rosie, appreciates. The 51-year-old is of Dominican and Cuban descent and recognizes the power of this nuance in representation for our community.

“It brings me great joy to have Mayan’s character celebrating her Mexican, Dominican, Cuban [roots]. People are like ‘whoa, that’s a lot,’ yeah, that’s a lot, that’s who we are. You know, I’m Dominican Cuban and my daughter’s Dominican Cuban Puerto Rican so, it is our community, it’s not just one lane. So I love that you know, sometimes we see within our own community differences and people focusing on how how we’re different and then not focusing how how much we are alike, here there’s a celebration of what it is to be Mexican American, what it is to be a Cubana, what it is to be Dominican.”

Rosie brings comedy, heart, and a little sass to the series as the head of the moving company she works with George in managing as well as being his ex-wife, Mayan’s mom, and Chance’s (Brice Gonzalez) abuela. This season we get to see her own come into her own as a woman in her 50s exploring love with guest star Jaime Camil (Jane the Virgin) as the charming injury lawyer, Josué.

LOPEZ VS LOPEZ — “Lopez vs Raider Nation” Episode 205 — Pictured: (l-r) George Lopez as George, Jaime Camil as Josué, Selenis Leyva as Rosie — (Photo by: Nicole Weingart/NBC)

“I’m not just Afro Latina, but I’m a woman that’s already 50 and still cute and still out here doing her thing and representing for women over a certain age to show the world that it doesn’t just stop. Hollywood has this really weird concept of after 35 It’s almost like you’re done,” she says.

The layers of storytelling — from George’s evolution to Mayan’s growth to Rosie thriving — is part of the reason why the series is celebrated as the most prominent Latinx-led series on TV today. It’s also telling that the George Lopez series (2002-2007) was the only Latinx-led series of its time and now nearly 20 years later, not much has changed. On the heels of the cancellations of Latinx-led shows including Gordita Chronicles, This Fool, the On My Block spinoff, Freeridge, in addition to the writer’s strike (from May-Sept. 2023), the show’s success is not taken for granted.

“It means a lot. I think that growing up, I didn’t feel represented. The first time that I saw a daughter like me on screen was America Ferrera in Real Women Have Curves. Then I got to work on One Day at a Time, which was sort of the next time that I got to see myself presented authentically,” Wolfe, who is half Salvadoran, tells HipLatina. We’re far and few between having our gente on TV and so I’m very grateful, taking this opportunity to definitely try to bring in as many Latine talent into the fold. We’ve cast Latine talent and then we’ve also, behind the scenes, we have Latine cast and crew and, and writers because I think it’s important to have have Latine people in those roles, so that they can grow and they can learn and then they can like, create their own content.”

In addition to Camil, the guest stars for season two include Diana Maria Riva (Gordita Chronicles), Chicano icon Cheech Marin, and comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias along with Gloria Calderon Kellett (One Day at a Time showrunner) directing the first episode. This comes after a star-studded Christmas episode in season one featuring the original cast of the George Lopez show. This ten-episode sophomore season even includes a contemporary version of “Mexican American” from Cheech and Chong which evolved from being a potential social media collab to becoming a scene in the series featuring Mayan and George singing along. For Wolfe, who grew up watching Cheech & Chong, being a part of making this moment happen on TV was “iconic” and Mayan seconds the significance of what they’re able to do with the show for the community.

“It means absolutely everything. And I really think about that every single day when I go to work we’re like the second biggest group in this country. And we’re four percent of representation in Hollywood, which is ridiculous, and our shows are getting canceled. And so us being able to survive, I think it’s very much a metaphor of how strong we are as a community that we’re pushing through, and also our stories are able to be on this huge network of NBC,” Mayan says. “I think a win for one is a win for all. I mean, the fact that we’re the only show with a prominent, Latine cast it’s really unfortunate. I think that It also in itself bring attention to the issue.”

She shares that she’s been told she too “loud” or “too much” but it’s that passion that she says drives her work on the show and that she hopes that it allows for other Latinx-led projects to get support. “I’m so proud of my culture, to be able to weave that into these stories. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I’m so grateful to be able to do it.”

While the future of the series hasn’t been announced, season two comes to an end April 30 with even more secrets coming to light with a little nudge from Mayan’s therapist. This thread of healing sown throughout the series was very much intentional and the main message Wolfe hopes audiences take from this season.

“I think the biggest thing for us is that we hope to have this message of healing go out. I think the message we have is you need to meet people where they’re at, get rid of expectations, if you want to have a relationship with others, there is room for growth, but it takes time. And so that’s the message that we want to put out there. And when especially in our community, you know, we love to hold a grudge in our community, it’s not necessary. We hope to spread this message of healing and openness and love to homes across America.”

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Debby Wolfe George Lopez lopez vs. lopez mayan lopez mexican american TV show
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