I didn’t see a lot of shows growing up that reflected my experience as a Latina American. But there was one show that deeply resonated with me and if you’re a fellow Latina yourself, chances are you watched it: Nickelodeon’s Taina. The show centered around its lead character Taina, a 14-year-old Puerto Rican girl from Queens who attends the Manhattan High School of the Performing Arts and aspires to become an actress and singer. Played by Nuyorican actress Christina Vidal, Taina was a show that resonated with many of us, so you could imagine my excitement when I learned Vidal will be staring as the lead of a new ABC sitcom called United We Fall, about a Latino family.
In the new show, Vidal plays Jo who is married to Bill, played by Will Sasso. The show “follows the trials and tribulations” they face as parents raising two kids. Jo has a large Latinx Catholic family, who like many Latino families, aren’t afraid to let Jo know where she and her husband are messing up. While Bill’s very judgmental and over-powering mother lives with them and doesn’t exactly make things easy for the couple either. But what helps Jo and Will through it all, is always having each other’s backs.
Both Jo and Bill have college degrees and successful careers. Jo also isn’t a traditional mom in any sense of the word. The youngest of ten siblings, Jo prides herself in being a strong role model for her kids but is also cool and sarcastic, which often becomes a conflicting matter with her extended family.
That’s all the info we have for now, but considering Vidal’s character is Latina and Sasso’s is white, we’re hoping the show touches on some of the challenges that can come from raising multiracial, bicultural kids, as that’s one that will definitely resonate with a lot of audiences. I’d also like to see how Jo handles her large Latinx Catholic family interfering with family decisions, especially if Jo and Will aren’t raising their kids Catholic or religious. I’d like to see how Will deals with the lack of boundaries overpowering Latinx families can have, how Jo deals with having a judgmental mother-in-law who doesn’t know her place, and how the couple chooses to talk to their kids about relevant social issues that impact people of color and the LGBTQIA community. Is she raising her kids bilingual? How rooted in their Latinx culture are the kids? Are the kids going to go through periods where they don’t feel Latinx enough or white enough? Are they going to have queer friends or relatives? And what is that conversation going to look like? In other words, is this show going to have the same rawness, realness, and relatability, that a lot of people experienced watching One Day at a Time? Is it going to resonate as much with 33-year-old me as Taina did with 14-year-old me? I guess we’ll have to wait to find out.
I’m excited to see Vidal — obviously — but I’m hoping that this show delivers in a serious way. In 2019 we can’t afford to not get shows like this right. I’m also hoping there are a few Latinx writers in that writers room. In the meantime, I’ll be here waiting for a release date and a trailer to finally drop. Fingers crossed this show doesn’t wind up disappointing.