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Lopez vs. Lopez - Season 1
LOPEZ VS. LOPEZ -- Season: Pilot -- Pictured: (l-r) Matt Shively as Quinten, Mayan Lopez as Maya, George Lopez as George, Selenis Leyva as Rosie -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
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Mayan Lopez Brings Heart and Humor to TV with ‘Lopez vs. Lopez’


Actress, producer, and writer Mayan Lopez, 26, took to TikTok like most people did during the pandemic,  for trending and silly videos sprinkled in with some more serious storytelling. About two years ago, she posted a TikTok about some of the stories revolving her dad, the iconic Latino comedian and actor George Lopez, while twerking and it caught the eye of Salvadoran American show writer Debby Wolfe. Where viewers saw a funny video, Debby saw the potential for a new show. Poking fun at their complicated yet loving relationship became the basis for the series aptly named Lopez vs. Lopez, which premiered in November and was picked up for a full 22-episode season soon after. George and Mayan star as father and daughter repairing their broken relationship after a decade of silence with Mayan now married and a mom to a young boy. George is struggling with work and moves in with Mayan and the inevitable friction plays out. Each episode focuses on the father/daughter dilemmas with George being the old-school dad seeking redemption but stuck in his ways and Mayan bringing the Gen Z Latina perspective.

“Mayan’s video just popped up and I was just immediately struck by it. I was like, here is this Gen Z Latina, who’s unafraid to call out her Boomer father for his terrible parenting,” Debby tells HipLatina.”It was so raw and it was so honest and hilarious at the same time, because she’s twerking upside down.”

It was 3 a.m. and she knew this was a show in the making so she emailed Bruce Helford, co- creator of the George Lopez show. He agreed and she shares that everyone was on board with the show from development to the series. The stories are inspired by George and Mayan’s real life as well as from the writers: “I think making a good TV show is being truthful, being authentic, not just writing something because you think it’s funny, but writing something because it’s true, and then you’ll find the funny in that. So that’s what we strive to do at Lopez vs. Lopez,” she tells us..

For Mayan the series feels like an extension of the truth she was putting out on TikTok and an artistic way to work through the hurt.


“There were times when I wasn’t speaking with my dad, and I kind of put it in my art like making TikToks and seeing people relating to the issues that I was going through,” Mayan tells HipLatina. “I just want them partly to connect, but also for everyone to know that they’re not alone and you’re not the only person dealing with this problem. We can bring it together, we can laugh about it, we can laugh through the pain and that’s what I’ve always wanted to do.”

 

Lopez vs. Lopez -George Mayan
LOPEZ VS. LOPEZ — “Pilot” Episode 101 — Pictured: (l-r) George Lopez as George, Mayan Lopez as Mayan — (Photo by: Casey Durkin/NBC)

This series coming to life is more than a creative project getting studio approval though, it’s years of therapy and working on a relationship that for a decade was non-existent. After her parents divorced in 2012, she resented her dad and having it happen in the public eye along with his infidelities made it that much more difficult. It wasn’t until the pandemic that the family reunited and began repairing their relationship.

Mayan studied sketch comedy and improv and also trained at Second City but it was the school of comedy thanks to dad that inspired her. Now their relationship is the basis for each episode tackling issues like gaslighting and being Latina but not knowing Spanish as in Mayan’s case.

The generational gap is a major aspect of the storytelling of the show and in the played out recently in an episode on anxiety. Whereas George’s character doesn’t talk about mental health struggles, Mayan’s character is open about taking medication to help with her anxiety. His way of thinking is representative of many Latinx parents who grew up in a different time and it’s also indicative of a machista perspective, one she says George IRL also struggles with. At one point in the series, Mayan essentially shares that while some pass down wealth, they passed down trauma. Generational trauma isn’t at the core of the series but you see elements of it and it’s because of Mayan and George’s dynamic that it works with both humor and seriousness. Unlike the George Lopez show which centered on George and his brand of humor, this series isn’t afraid to go there and take on the more timely and taboo topics.


“I’m very grateful, because there have been times where it’s that very much a lot of machismo. But he softens with me, and he has the love and I know it’s not [like that for] everyone, but I think if you can watch that, and if you don’t talk with your father, you can maybe get a little peace for yourself. You can either talk about it, but it’s like this granting peace and knowing that you don’t have to be perfect,” Mayan shares.

Lopez vs. Lopez - Selenis Leyva
LOPEZ VS. LOPEZ — “Pilot” Episode 101 — Pictured: (l-r) Matt Shively as Quinten, Selenis Leyva as Rosie, Brice Gonzalez as Chance, Mayan Lopez as Mayan — (Photo by: Casey Durkin/NBC)

Then there’s Selenis Leyva who plays Mayan’s mom, Rosie, and brings strength and resilience to the show as well as a Latina maternal element. “She’s a strong Latina, she’s a woman who was able to make it on to the other side of a relationship that wasn’t great and raise a pretty perfect young woman,” Selenis tells HipLatina. “So that drew me to her, the fact that she was multi-layered and fun and really a badass woman.”

In one episode, the running joke is George turning off all the lights in the house, something Latinxs (and working class folks in general) can relate to. Selenis shares that’s something she’s all too familiar with as well as a scene where Rosie cleans the floor after Mayan does it. “If you are from any Latino household, you know that we don’t just go buy mops when you can get a stick like a normal mop stick and get a good T-shirt around it,” she says with a laugh.

Selenis is known for roles as Gloria Mendoza on the drama Orange is the New Black as well as Diary of a Future President and says she enjoys being a part of a comedy, especially alongside George. Rosie is straight-forward yet loving and her weakness is Mayan’s son in the series, Chance (Brice Gonzalez), like most Latina abuelas. Besides working with Mayan and George, Selenis says the best part is the comedy.

“It’s like a different muscle that I’m using with the arts. That’s exciting to me. I love learning. Every day I go on that show, I’m learning more and more and more.”


Selenis, who is of Cuban and Dominican descent, is also passionate about the representation for the Latinx community this show brings. She describes the feeling of not fitting in as an actress as an Afro-latina and how she was often given “lesser” roles. Now, being a part of this series as Rosie, she feels is indicative of the progress being made in the industry. “I grew up in a time where I rarely saw myself,  not only being Latina, but also being Afro Latina. I rarely saw myself depicted in this way as a lead of a show, as somebody who is strong, who has it together,” she shares.

Mayan recalls her dad having to go through similar struggles in casting, passing on roles as a gangster for example, and how he and her mother have been working toward changing that. “My parents have been doing that for 35 years — pushing for that. Now. I want to — as many other actors and actresses — keep continuing that push.”

This year alone, beloved and critically acclaimed Latinx-led series including Gordita Chronicles, Los Espookys, and Gentefied were canceled. Debby was a writer for One Day at a Time, another beloved Latinx series that was canceled, revived, then canceled again, and is well aware of the importance of representation. “It really just drives me. We’re so underrepresented still today. I want to be a part of what changes that and I really hope that this show does do really well and we open doors for more,” she tells us.

The pilot episodes of the series has  has drawn 7.6 million viewers across all platforms since originally airing on NBC on Nov. 4., per NBC, Variety reported. NBC also says the series has the strongest English-dominant Latinx index among the major four broadcast networks. These numbers matter because when it comes to getting support for a series, this is what keeps shows alive (not just acclaim and adoration, clearly). It’s indicative of the power Latinx viewers have and one that Selenis says is crucial to wield if we want to continue to see ourselves represented.


“What’s most important is for the Latino community to understand the power that we have. We have so much power, when we show up it matters. What you are going to see on the show is the Latino community coming together — Mexican, Dominican, Cuban, a sprinkle of everything else, telling a story, being united, being successful at it, that’s what matters.”

On a more personal note, the show is a sign of what healing looks like for Mayan and the possibilities that came with collaborating despite what the show’s name implies.

“especially with my dad and I’s relationship, it’s how do you heal [from] the past but also build something in the future.”

Lopez vs. Lopez airs Fridays at 8 pm PT on NBC and is available to stream on Peacock