‘Grand Hotel’ 1×01 Review: Well, This is Different

Welcome to the Grand Hotel!

As someone who watched and fell in love with the original Gran Hotel what feels like ages ago, and someone who has re-watched that show (and fallen in love with Yon Gonzalez over and over again), I will admit that the first approach to this series was trepidation. Would they be able to do it justice?

The good news? They’re not really trying. This show is different enough that a few minutes in, it becomes impossible to continue to compare it, even if some of the characters share the same name. This version of Grand Hotel is doing its own thing, and I gotta be honest, I really and truly appreciate it.

Because there was just no way they were going to live up to the original, anyway.

Now, you gotta go into this knowing what it is: an over the top, sometimes soapy show that relies heavily on the setting and has a lot of latinx DNA (and hey, actual latinx actors so three cheers for them). If you’re good with that, and honestly, with the fun that comes from a show like that, then you’re in for a treat.

So let us go into the characters, the storylines and the mystery of the Grand Hotel:

DANNY + ALICIA

In the original Gran Hotel, Alicia and Julio start as the main draw and the remain the main draw throughout out the series (though Ayala and Hernando are a close second). In this Grand Hotel, as much as we’re seeing the story through Alicia’s eyes, and as much as Danny plays a big role in what she’s seeing and experiencing in this episode, I get the sense that this will be much more of an ensemble show.

Now, that has a little to do with the big names, and I’ll admit, something to do with the fact the whole Danny and Alicia dynamic just didn’t click for me yet. I quite liked Alicia as her own person, and her scenes apart from Danny – especially with stepmother Gigi – were good enough that Alicia, without seeming like an overpowering protagonist that will hog all the spotlight, seems like the kind of character I can invest in.

Danny on the other hand? Eh, if it were not for the last few seconds, I wouldn’t have cared one iota about him. As it stands, I only semi-care because I’m a sucker for the mystery and I want to know who he called, how he got here and where the hell his sister is, because I’ll bet good money she isn’t dead.

Maybe the mystery will make him more interesting. Maybe when he’s doing something other than making googly eyes at Alicia with anything but pure intentions, I’ll care. For now …eh, you’ve got a long way to go, Dany.

JAVI + INGRID

Color me intrigued. And shocked. There was no character I hated more in the original than Belen (Ingrid’s equivalent), and no character who annoyed me more than Javier, the perpetual screw-up. Here, however, Ingrid seems less of a bad person and more just a lost girl who’s in over her head, and Javier has actual reasons to be who he is.

And the show makes the right choice by bringing this lost girl (Ingrid) who’s in over her head and the original lost boy who’s in over his head, Javier.

I’m also a sucker for this trope, and yeah, yeah, I know it’s soapy and over the top and whatever, but IMAGINE THEM FALLING IN LOVE AND THEN HIM FINDING OUT THE BABY ISN’T REALLY HIS, BUT IT DOESN’T MATTER, HE ALREADY LOVES HER, AND THE BABY, AND GAH, I WANT IT.

So, yeah. I think my feelings on the subject are clear. This was the most interesting dynamic for me in this episode, or at least the setup for the most interesting dynamic to come this season. I know this is going to go spectacularly bad soon, but I’m here for this mess, Grand Hotel. I really, really am.

SANTIAGO + GIGI

If I knew something about the DNA of Grand Hotel, it was that this was going to have a lot of mystery, and tons of secrets, and the show found two of the best actors to be in the middle of all these secrets. Santiago and Gigi play off each other perfectly, and they do so in a way that makes you feel like they’re not really good guys, but they’re truly the villains either.

They’re just morally grey characters.

Latinx actors don’t often get to play these kinds of characters, because nuanced is often something reserved for the main (white) characters. This show fills most of the roles we expect to see with diverse characters, and in doing so, it makes the latinx experience richer, and it gives us more nuanced characters.

And it also gives Roselyn Sanchez and Demian Bichir, two amazing actors, the chance to show that they’re more than the stereotype, which is always a good thing.

THE REAL DIVERSITY

As I mentioned before, sometimes – most times, really – diversity on TV and movies is seen as a quota that must be filled. With a cast that’s mostly diverse, and a writer’s room that’s half female and half diverse, this version of Grand Hotel seems to be trying not just to tell a fun and entertaining story, but to subvert the stereotypes of what minorities – especially latinx – are.

Because no, latinx and not just big hairs and big accents. We’re not all from Mexico, and all our stories don’t have to do with drug cartels. Latinx characters can be nuanced, and they don’t all have to be similar, even if they’re related. And yes, we can own businesses, and be successful and be screw-ups and grow and change and all of those things.

GASP. I know. Real and true diversity, who would have thought?

Things I Think I think:

  • Diversity, when it’s real, its felt. This show truly feels like latinos telling their own stories, not white people telling stories about the latinx experience.
  • Also, the DP is a woman! How rare is that?
  • Miami is going to be a character, isn’t it?
  • I really appreciate how the wardrobe makes every character feels so different.
  • Also, if latinos know how to do something is dress in bright colors. It is known.
  • It makes my heart good to hear GOOD SPANISH.
  • The fight between Carolina and Yoli was the most hilarious moment in this episode.
  • EL REY!
  • Danny, even your abs aren’t enough to impress me.
  • Roselyn Sanchez is a goddess among women.
  • How can you be latina and be so pale, the story of Alicia and me.

Agree? Disagree? Share with us in the comments below!

Grand Hotel airs Mondays at 10/9c on ABC.

 

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