Where is the Latino Cosby Show?

As I’ve mentioned before, I Love Lucy is something my entire family loves and it is one of the rare shows I watch on a near daily basis. Some may think I started watching I Love Lucy because it’s about a Latino married to a gringa but I’ve been watching it since I was a little girl.

After I got married, I Love Lucy took on new meaning to me, and it was one of the first shows I introduced Carlos to. Surprisingly, he never saw it in El Salvador, although they had a dubbed version of everything from Friends, Saved By the Bell, and Golden Girls to Smurfs, Beverly Hills 90210, Dukes of Hazzard and MacGyver.

As I watch this show with my boys, sometimes I forget that our sons are growing up in a household similar to the one on the screen – similar to the one “Little Ricky” grew up in – bicultural, bilingual, Spanish-speaking father and an Anglo mother. It doesn’t matter how often I watch and re-watch I Love Lucy, I never quite get over how completely ahead of their time they were. It’s strange to me that my boys can’t fully relate to any characters on today’s TV shows, yet they can relate to I Love Lucy which aired in the 1950’s.

Where are today’s bicultural, bilingual, Spanglish speaking characters? There definitely aren’t enough. I’ll admit that children’s programming has come a long way and Latinos are well-represented in cartoons, but my boys aren’t exactly Dora the Explorer’s target audience anymore. Mun2 and Tr3s, likewise, have done an amazing job with bilingual shows like RPM Miami and Quiero Mi Boda, but the themes are much too mature for adolescents. Where is the programming for the modern familia Latina? Where is the show that will do for Latinos what The Cosby Show did for blacks? Where are the sitcoms for families like us, or are we supposed to be content with re-runs of The George Lopez show?

Until then, I Love Lucy makes us feel that we are normal, at least as much as a bicultural, bilingual household can be.


    • By the way – a little trivia. In that clip where Ricky accidentally speaks English to his Cuban friends — that wasn’t in the script. Desi seriously got confused but then after laughing it off, decided to keep going. It was hilarious the way it worked out though, because anyone who has translated back and forth has done that before too! :)

  1. I love this post and I completely agree. I still watch the Cosby Show and I miss the wholesome family values it had. Today’s shows are just sarcastic, grossly witty comedy that downgrades people and values.

    • We watch The Cosby Show any time we catch it, too. No matter how many times I’ve seen an episode, I love seeing it again. Totally agree about most shows today. There has never been a show since The Cosby Show that can compare, in my opinion.

  2. I can completely relate! I have loved Lucy since I was a kid. Now, as an adult, I still love it; I even named my daughter, Soraya Lucille after her :). My kids don’t watch sitcoms because I also believe that most of the themes are inappropriate. My husband I, however, do enjoy Modern Family, which represents many different kinds of family and it’s a hilarious show. We also started watching the online series “Los Americans” which we enjoy. There is really nothing on TV that represents the Latino or Latino/American culture since George Lopez (which does get old LOL!). Maybe YOU should launch something to NBC! If you need a good Salvadoran/Gringa couple to play the neighbors or something, give us a call! :)

  3. I love this post. You know, the Cosby Show had so much meaning for me. Mrs. Cosby was the first woman I saw that spoke Spanish on (American)Television. I identified most closely with her as a result. I strove to be like her – like her character (an attorney) and like the actress (by pursuing acting). Positive examples that we could cling to were scarce and I will always be grateful to The Cosby Show for that.

    I am proud to see shows like Ugly Betty and Modern Family just because it gives Latinos a place on TV and shows different family dynamics. George Lopez is the closest we’ve come to a Latino Cosby Show, (though we know Rob Schneider is coming out with his show).

    However, once I saw I Love Lucy, I too was hooked. I thought she was hysterical and I loved that her husband was Latino (though I couldn’t identify with a male as a little girl). It was fun to hear Spanish on TV, even if just to say how crazy Lucy was (by the way, every time I imitate my mother’s accent I sound more like Ricky Ricardo, so there’s that influence in my speech LOL).

    So many people I hold dear to me grew up in households like these – like yours. My great aunt married a Jewish man in Puerto Rico and I have a slew of Jewish Ricans in the family. My closest friend is part Salvadorian and part Jewish (mom is from El Salvador, father is Jewish from New York).

    I think you’re right… we need more of this on television. More positive examples of bicultural families. I know the impact it had on me. ;-)

  4. This was a crack up! It’s hysterical that when people try to speak slowly to someone who speaks another language, they raise the volume levels as if that’s going to help understand any better. I grew up being a translator kid for my mom and for many in the area and I always noticed that. This also happens with Spanish speakers relaying things to English speakers too. I’ve seen this with my relatives trying to communicate in broken English to my wife (who is anglo).

    I love it where Ricky starts speaking English to his friends, that was a classic! I’ve done that on more than one occasion.

    Thanks for posting, this was a day that needed some levity!

    • Glad this gave you a laugh, Joe.

      You’re right that Spanish speakers also do this to English speakers, (the shouting thing.) LOL.

  5. hollywood doesn’t believe that Latinos are normal and interesting apparently…otherwise why would they just cast Latinos as maids, drug dealers, illegal immigrants, etc??!!! Sigh….just venting my frustration!

  6. This is a great clip! this reminds me of a show I used to love watching growing up in Miami called Que Pasa USA? A few Christmases ago I bought my dad the dvd set and we watched all the episodes again! It is a bilingual sitcom from the ’80s and I swear it chronicles my life growing up in a Spanish speaking household and being a 2nd generation Hispanic/Latina

    check it out – http://www.quepasausa.org

    • My friend Carrie of TikiTikiBlog.com tipped me off about this show because it was a favorite of hers and I watched a few videos. Absolutely love it!

      There’s one scene where the girl tells her parents that as long as they answer “yes” to every question on the citizenship test, (regardless of comprehension), they should be fine. They attempt to test it out, and for the first few questions, it works great and they’re very excited — and then there are questions about whether they’ve ever been involved in prostitution and things like that and the parents are still answering “YES!!!” … lol. Hilarious.

  7. couldn’t agree more. i want my daughter to grow up seeing herself and her family on television.

    i am a big fan of sofia vergara, and love modern family. it touches on the complex modern day family structures. maybe that’s television’s answer to representing society nowadays?

    • Wow! Thank you for the link! I’ve never seen I Love Lucy dubbed to Spanish – this is fantastic!

      Thanks for your kind comment, too :)

  8. Sofia Vergara is irritating…her accent is way over exaggerated…her real accent is nice enough, but she needs to bring attention to her being “latina” (read:indian) last time I checked, she wasn’t from Italy, Spain or Portugal…Sofia vergara -annoying and talentless Sophia Loren…che bella donna!

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