Mariachi country series
Photo courtesy of Cecilia Ballí
News and Entertainment

Drama Series ‘Mariachi Country’ Centers on Youth Mariachi Competitions on the Border

Fans of mariachi music have some big surprises to look forward to on TV! With a whole line-up of Latinx-led TV shows premiering this year like Lopez vs Lopez and new Latinx shows in development like the series adaptation of They Both Die at the End, it’s clear that we’re hungry for new stories that reflect our people and communities. This week, the production company Fremantle announced in a press release that they are currently developing Mariachi Country, a drama series following youth mariachi competitions at the U.S.-Mexico border. It will be based on “A Championship Season in Mariachi Country,” the 2022 New York Times article by reporter Cecilia Ballí, who will serve as executive producer. To accompany the show, they will also produce an unscripted docu-series to showcase the real-life Latinx high school students participating in the competitions.

“Throughout my writing career, I’ve been concerned with how Latinos are excluded from national and state narratives, how we’re invisible almost, and we don’t have a voice. In these shows, these kids will literally have a voice—a big one!” Ballí tells HipLatina. “And to get to have some say in the storytelling as an executive producer fills me with pride. I think it’s important to safeguard our stories and make sure they get told authentically and powerfully.”

A long-time mariachi fan and reporter at the U.S.-Mexico border, Ballí was originally inspired to cover the youth concerts in 2016 when former President Donald Trump won the presidency, a time when being Latinx had never felt more frightening, dangerous, or villainized. But it wasn’t until five years later that she felt the courage to finally bring the story into the spotlight.

“I wanted to keep writing about the border, but I wanted to do my part to change the narrative around it, and write about belonging,” she tells us.

Cecilia Balli
Photo courtesy of Cecilia Balli

Similarly, both the drama series and docu-series seem more interested in moving beyond the politics of the border and into the real-life people who call the place home. Not to mention the complex, high-stakes world of mariachi, the tight bonds that are formed between teammates, and the time, energy, and dedication it takes to participate in the competition and win. Both projects are currently in ongoing development, with writers, directors, producers, and documentary filmmakers in talks to participate. The top four mariachi teams in the country and the national mariachi competition are already confirmed to be participating.

“I think it will change how they think about Latinos and how they think about themselves. These kids show us beautifully that you can be Mexican and American at the same time. That neither identity threatens the other. In fact, they feed off each other. My biggest hope is that it will make us all reconsider what it means to be American,” Ballí adds. “I hope that if these shows get made, they will help elevate the genre of mariachi music as a whole, and more school programs will form, and all mariachi students and musicians will benefit. That’s the dream.”

No casting decisions or release date have been announced yet but we are so excited to see these stories on our screens soon!