Though this show is all about five kids who find themselves in the difficult situation they are because of racist and unjust policies, this week’s episode of Party of Five, titled “Authentic Mexican” is the first time the show deals head on with the micro-aggressions of everyday racism, and what’s it’s like to live in a country that increasingly feels like it has stopped seeing the latinx community as people.
Instead, we’re just …means to an end. Or worse, props. Caricatures. The people who make margaritas and nachos, probably while singing mariachis, even though not every immigrant speaking Spanish in the United States is even from Mexico.
Very few shows could have dealt with the situation head on, very few could have delivered this message, and done so in such an emotional, and yet real way, as Party of Five did. It isn’t hard to send the big messages, because more often than not, those are obvious. Most of us understand the big picture, the good and bad in sweeping terms. Not everyone understands the little things, and not everyone cares to.
This is one of the reasons why I always advocate not just for diverse storytelling, but for authentic storytelling. Stories about specific communities have to be told by those communities. This story, to be this real, to be this authentic, had to be told by the people who’ve been there, the people who’ve felt the daily humiliation, the trying to move past it because what else are you going to do, you have to put food on the table.
And even for me, on the other side of enough privilege – because my parents worked hard so I wouldn’t have to – am seeing it as just, something I know happens, something I understand has occurred to others, but I didn’t experience. I’m the Lucia in this situation, the type to complain, the type to fight back.
Why should I allow others to treat me like I’m less?
In this very moment, though, I feel incredibly connected to the people who, for me to feel this freedom, had to bow their head and put up with a hundred, a thousand humiliations, big and small. The ones that had to put up with people who wanted them to parade around like a caricature, because that’s all they could process.
Yes, sometimes it’s hard to understand that people are different. The political climate has clearly reflected this, just as it’s shown us that fear of what is different brings out the worst in some. But that isn’t what this show is about. This isn’t about the white tears, or the sympathy for the poor racists who don’t know better.
No, this is about the other side, the one that doesn’t have its story told nearly as often. And for that, we should be thankful to Freeform, for allowing this story on the air, to Amy Lippman & Christopher Keyser for using their privilege to bring a story that isn’t about them to the forefront. To the rest of the writing staff, for making it feel like this story isn’t just theirs, but ours. And finally, to the actors, for understanding that just as twenty six years ago we first felt the need to protect the kids in the original Party of Five, now we can feel the same with the Acostas.
Because they’re different, but also the same.
Their story, however, can’t be told the same way. It shouldn’t be. Diversity isn’t about telling the same story with different faces, diversity is about understanding how those different faces change the story.
Diversity is this.
And I’m all here for it. I just need to wipe my tears for a second, and we can go on.
Things I think I think:
- This week, on Party of Five, everyone’s over their stupid fight from last week!
- Funny thing about the title is that there’s no such thing as an “Authentic Mexican.” Mexicans are not a monolith.
- Seriously, Emilio? You wanna have sex without a condom? You fancy a baby?
- YOU ALREADY HAVE ONE.
- Yes, Lucia, you are supposed to be helping with the girl stuff.
- NO ONE GETS A VOTE.
- Shouldn’t they, though?
- No, Beto, we want you to not tell Emilio the problems IN FRONT OF THE POTENTIAL CLIENT.
- Like, how hard is that?
- Beto flirting without meaning to is kinda cute.
- Finally, a little bonding between Lucia and Valentina.
- When do the mariachis get her? SERIOUSLY?
- Oh, right. “Authentic Mexican stuff”
- Valentina asking who was gonna teach her broke me.
- Beto is following Emilio’s footsteps here.
- Thinking with the lower brain.
- While Emilio is thinking like someone who has to provide for a family.
- Aka, he’s pretending the racism isn’t there, even while Beto calls it out.
- Lucia’s face is pure poetry.
- Can someone like Emilio afford principles?
- It’s easy for Lucia, the responsibility isn’t really hers.
- Unsuspected depth for a man in a poncho indeed.
- Ah, Lucia.
- Wow, and with added mansplaining to the racism.
- “Don’t underestimate me because I can make tortillas.”
- At least Lucia told Emilio.
- Does Beto have …game?
- “Making out with the HELP?”
- Emilio doesn’t really have the morals to say shit.
- Also, this racist son of a bitch.
- “That’s my brother, and as long as I’m around no one’s gonna talk to him like that.”
- “It’s okay, Bey.”
- I CRY.
- At least Emilio isn’t a hypocrite.
- Aw, Emilio saying no.
- “It’s about not wanting to be mami.”
- Beto IS the parent.
- Yes, Vanessa, you ARE the only thing that’s optional.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of “Authentic Mexican”? Share with us in the comments below!
Party of Five airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on Freeform.