After a three-year hiatus because of the pandemic, HBO Max’s Los Espookys is finally returning to our small screens for Season 2 in September. The comedy series first premiered in June 2019, making a name for itself on the streaming service as a show that wasn’t afraid to blend horror with humor. It notably features an all-Latinx main cast including Bernardo Velasco (Museo), Julio Torres (Bob’s Burgers), Cassandra Ciangherotti (Ready to Mingle), Ana Fabrega (Portlandia) and comedy veteran Fred Armisen (The Dictator, Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine). The series follows a group of friends who, after helping a priest fake-perform an exorcism, start a business where they use their individual skills to make horror situations feel real, from haunted houses to sea monster sightings. Since its debut, Los Espookys has been praised for its comedy and horror elements, and the representation it offers to both Latinx and queer audiences.
“Part of the bliss of making this show is that it effortlessly checks a lot of these boxes just by allowing Latinx and queer people do what they want to do,” Los Espookys co-creator and writer Julio Torres, who also plays Andrés Valdez in the show, tells HipLatina. “It just sort of happens organically. So there is never a checklist of things that we feel like we have to show or do or comment on.”
Torres isn’t the only cast member wearing multiple creative hats on the set of Los Espookys. In addition to acting on the show, Ana Fabrega, who plays Tati, and Fred Armisen, who plays Tito, serve as co-creators and writers for both seasons. According to Fabrega, the original creation of the show in 2019, as well as their subsequent work in the second season, came from their natural sense of fun, chemistry, and “easy creative process” as a team.
“When we start writing, it is disjointed, like ‘Oh, isn’t this funny?’ ‘What if this happened?'” says Fabrega. “And then we take time to put narratives together that feel satisfying, that explore characters. But it does always start from, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if this happened?'”
“It’s two steps in that way,” adds Torres. “First, we have this bounty of ideas that we are humored by, and then we think about the roadmap of how to showcase all those things.”
Despite, or maybe because of the unusual creative process, the show still manages to be a coherent and enjoyable viewing experience, blending each episode’s main horror arc with the problems going on in the individual characters’ personal lives. It’s the kind of show that has no real equivalent, so much so that it’s hard to describe to others or understand unless you’ve seen it. The comedy is subtle, the situations are hilarious but understated, and even the main setting comes across as an ambiguous country in Latin America, while other locations are confirmed to be somewhere in the U.S. This means that the show takes an equally unique approach to language, with the majority of the show being spoken in Spanish. One might think that a majority-Spanish language show on a majority-English platform could be detrimental to the show’s success. But, in fact, it seems to have only made Los Espookys more popular.
“Even though it is predominantly in Spanish, it’s not only for Spanish speakers, the way that we consume media from other parts of the world here and elsewhere,” says Fabrega. “There’s this idea that people won’t read subtitles but if you make a show that people like, I don’t think it matters what language it’s in.”
Armisen says that he most enjoys opportunities to meet “someone who doesn’t speak Spanish at all,” and yet who still enjoys the show like any other media made in the U.S. Los Espookys is one of many examples that language doesn’t have to be a barrier and that Spanish-speaking Latinx audiences can and should be catered to in Hollywood.
Season 2 continues these traditions and hijinks from the first season, along with its subtle call-outs to the Latinx community. Many times throughout the show, there are character names and slang that only Spanish speakers can understand, and moments that felt euphoric to watch as a Latinx viewer.
But still, representation for Latinx viewers is not entirely the show’s goal or purpose, which works for a show of this format, where horror and comedy take priority. It’s a breath of fresh air in an industry where the representation on-screen can often become more important than the actual story being told. Even the show’s queer characters are allowed to exist and lead the show without the pressure of coming out or explaining their sexuality or being rigid in their understanding of identity. This quality of not trying too hard to cater to certain audiences is, as Cassandra Ciangherotti (Úrsula) says, part of why she fell in love with the project in the first place.
“I love that it’s not focused on the Latinx experience of living because there’s so much going on in a person’s life and in the culture that is not specific about your upbringing or your family,” Ciangherotti explains. “Everybody can relate to having a shadow inside of them. Everybody feels jealous. Everybody feels angry, everybody feels sadness, and that’s the dark part of ourselves. And that’s what’s great about [Los Espookys] because it has all this representation, but it’s something that we can all relate to.”
For Bernardo Velasco, who plays the show’s lead Renaldo, the comfort in the show lies in its feel-good and comforting aspects from the comedic situations the characters are placed in, and how thought-provoking it can be in comparison to his own life.
He says, “I love this experience on-set working around these great artists and geniuses of comedy. I really value the freedom that these characters and these situations can bring to the audience. When I see how passionate these characters are about trying to solve these mysteries, I look outside into my real life and I try to think about my problems, and at the end, I say, ‘Everything is gonna be okay. Nothing is that serious. So let’s laugh a little bit and keep going.'”
With the second season of Los Espookys on the way, there’s something for everyone to enjoy, from long-time fans and newcomers. What makes the show so different is exactly what makes it so special and underrated—the awkward but relatable characters, the stunning visual effects of the scares, and the nods to the Latinx community without becoming two heavy-handed. Compared to the first season, this new iteration feels even better than how it started, with new possibilities opening up for all of the main characters on their individual journeys of self-exploration and acceptance. And of course, there’s nothing like watching the team work together to create yet another successful horror show for a client. Fabrega notes:
I’m really excited for it to come out just because it feels like a much stronger season to me than the first one. It just feels like an evolution and a maturity from the first season. And I hope that viewers feel like that too.
Season 2 of Los Espookys will be available to stream on HBO Max on Sept. 16, 2022.