By Maria O Alvarez, Common Sense Media
If you want proof that America has moved beyond “Leave It to Beaver,” look at today’s prime-time TV lineup. The success of shows such as “Black-ish,” “Fresh Off the Boat,” and “Modern Family” proves that diversity is more than a hook ― it’s reality. Nowhere is this trend more evident than in a crop of shows that combine Latino characters, cultures, and generations for a mix that many of us can relate to. Sure, cultural stereotypes still persist, but the smart money is on shows that add a little bit of this and a little bit of that ― sort of like families.
For a fun cultural fusion experience that’s great for all kinds of kids, try these Latino-ish shows.
3+ An alternative to the classic “Dora the Explorer,” this sweet animated series showcases many elements of Latino culture and has a diverse cast. You may recognize Abuelita Yolie’s voice, performed by Puerto Rican star Rita Moreno, who often speaks in Spanish and helps Nina connect with her roots. By watching this show, kids can also learn about important character strengths such as empathy and communication.
5+ Elena is Disney’s first Latina princess, and even if there has been some controversy around her “Latino-ness,” it’s undeniable that for the first time, Latino kids can look up to a princess who resembles them. And Elena isn’t the kind of princess that stays in her castle waiting for a prince to rescue her. She’s the opposite: You’ll see her taking care of herself and her family ― and battling evil with her own hands.
6+ “Jane the Virgin”’s Jenna Ortega is the star of this comedy that follows the chaotic life of a big family. Harley is the middle child, and she’s an intelligent, resourceful teen who often uses science to solve problems and reach her goals. Sometimes her plans can be a bit mischievous, but in the end she always learns valuable lessons about the importance of family, caring about others, and being grateful for what she has.
9+ Though the storyline of this animated adventure has little to do with Latino traditions, the show is full of Mexican talent. A portal into Guillermo Del Toro’s imagination, “Trollhunters” will keep the attention of kids and parents alike thanks to a good mix of comedy, action, and relatable characters. One of these characters is Claire, an artistic Latina who in early episodes seems to be only the love interest of main character Jim, but who gains complexity as we see her become one of the “Trollhunters.”
12+ This Netflix original is the kind of show many Latinos have been waiting for. The heartfelt series offers a clear understanding of the nuances of the Latino family. Teens can identify with Elena, who wants to assert herself as someone with interests and values that are different from her mom and grandmother (also performed by Rita Moreno). At the same time, parents will recognize the difficulties that single mom Penelope faces by dealing with two kids and a larger-than-life mother. This series can be good option for families with teens who want to use TV as a conversation starter for important topics as consumerism, sex and family values.