Home Newsletter FocusOn Television

FocusOn Television

Latinos Outgrew Sábado Gigante’s Racism and Misogyny


Saturday nights for Latinos are usually family nights, and the variety show Sábado Gigante – the Miami-based Spanish-language hybrid of Benny Hill, Saturday Night Live and The Price is Right, which aired across the Americas for 53 years – has long been a big part of that. I didn’t watch the show of my own volition too much after immigrating to the US as a child (I was a nerd who preferred to read books), but it was often on at home following the family meal on Saturday evenings; if we had friends and family over at our apartment on Saturday night, spending time with them meant watching the show. If I happened to be at a friend’s house on a Saturday night, watching the show was a big part of our entertainment.

Dom Francisco’s show was a place on television for Latinos to see themselves represented. And some times we were in the worst ways possible.
Dom Francisco’s show was a place on television for Latinos to see themselves represented. And some times we were in the worst ways possible.

Sábado Gigante always gave America’s diverse Latinos a shared pop culture vernacular; for immigrant families, it gave us something to connect to with family back home. As long as they had televisions and understood Spanish, a grandmother living in El Salvador, a cousin living in the Dominican Republic, and an uncle living in Paraguay could all share a common reference point with family members living in the US and Canada – much like strangers use Twitter now to talk about Scandal or Game of Thrones.

And, for second generation Latinos who discreetly agonize over our Spanish language attrition. Spanish might be the first language we learned growing up in Latin America, or the first language we learned being born in the US, but many Latinos do most of our formal learning in English – and it influences our understanding of the grammar and vocabulary of our mother tongue. Sábado Gigante’s skits and segments are so over-the-top that it doesn’t matter whether we’ve lost our ability to conjugate verbs into the subjunctive mood, for instance – we will still get the basics and other family members can fill us in on any nuances we missed.

With an audience of about two million people, the 3-hour Univision show (which will come to an end this fall) has remarkably soothed generational, geographical and linguistic divides. Latino families in the US and throughout the Americas still gather around the television screen to watch it, as generations did before us, and many are mourning its end. When Latinos in the US say they’ll miss Sábado Gigante, they sometimes mean they’ll miss the way that it allowed them to connect with other Latinos, and the anxiety over losing the bond that only Sábado Gigante makes possible – and made possible for so long – is predictable.

But coupled with a certain willing silence over the show’s problematic themes, sketches and host, that melancholy illustrates how Latino misogyny and racism is perpetuated in the US. Sábado Gigante and its host are representative of some of the worst supposed Latino culture, and both should have been rejected ages ago.

Sábado Gigante’s host, Mario Kreutzberger – better known as Don Francisco – has become synonymous with Sábado Gigante for more than half a century. Those of us who grew up watching Don Francisco also grew up having to accept his persistent objectification of women to enjoy (or endure) his show. Although I didn’t have the words to articulate it as a child, seeing the way Don Francisco treats women made me cringe – and still does. One of the Sábado Gigante’s best-known segments, for instance, is Miss Colita (roughly translated, it means Miss Ass); a pageant in which women parade around the stage in thongs while Don Francisco comments and audience members vote for their favorite buttocks. Miss Colita contestants willingly sign up for the segment – but also have to cope with Don Francisco’s constant ogling and groping.

But it’s not just Miss Colita contestants who are objectified by Don Francisco on Sábado Gigante: the host also picks women out from the audience – grabbing women of all ages and body types by the hand, wrist, elbow or waist – and comments on their bodies. I don’t know that any woman ever directly rejected Don Francisco’s physical prodding on an aired episode of Sábado Gigante – but he was sued for sexual harassment by a cast member (it was settled out of court).

And, when he’s not busy groping women the show regularly uses little people as caricatures, employs exaggerated gay characters for laughter and regularly fat-shames people – including children.

When it comes to blatantly racist portrayals, the show’s mockery of indigenous peoples in the Americas is profoundly demeaning. Sábado Gigante’s interracial sketches illustrate the stubborn inequity among Latinos in the Americas: although we share a geographic region, Latinos are not one race of people. There are black, indigenous, white, Asian and mixed Latinos who are all subjected to a racial hierarchy – an order that Sábado Gigante doesn’t challenge. As a Latina who’s also indigenous, I connect with the show’s use of the Spanish language yet strongly reject the way that indigenous peoples are portrayed.

The show’s racism doesn’t end with its mockery of indigenous peoples: one of the Sábado Gigante’s best-known recurring characters is La Cuatro, which is short for La Cuatro Dientes (“Four Teeth”), a reference to the character’s social status – poor people, it’s assumed, can’t afford to fix their teeth. Although the actress who portrays her is light skinned and blonde, La Cuatro is often referred to as being savage and wild. In one episode from the show’s later years, viewers learned that La Cuatro is expecting an inheritance from an uncle in Africa, which is eventually delivered by an “African” character sporting a cheetah-print cloth and disheveled hair held together by a large bone.

As English language television struggles to figure out how to portray and serve a Latino audience – from Cristela to George Lopez to Jane the Virgin to Modern Family and beyond – I can’t imagine Sábado Gigante-type antics would ever hit mainstream screens. The stereotypes it employs don’t represent us – but we would also never want non-Latinos to know that those offensive stereotypes are humor in which any of us should continue to traffic. Sábado Gigante symbolizes an outdated thinking about Latinos and comedy that hinges on fetishizing and ridiculing people for ratings; it is ostensibly Latino, but it’s not an indication of who we are or who we’ve striving to become.

Sábado Gigante brought Latinos together across continents and generations, it’s true, but its misogyny and racism became its hallmarks even as the Latinos watching outgrew them. It’s probably too much to hope that the hatred for women, people of color and other marginalized people it perpetuated and institutionalized will die when Univision pulls the show’s plug on 19 September 2015 – but I can dream.

New Spanish-language Web Series ‘Tenemos que hablar’ Designed to Attract Billennials

Photo : Univision

“Tenemos que hablar” (“We Need to Talk”), the new Spanish-language Univision webseries, designed to attract billennials or bilingual Latino millennial audiences,

embraces drama, comedy, profanity and, of course, emojis.

The series documents a difficult long-distance relationship between 20-year-old Emilia and her boyfriend Bobi‎, who has relocated from Mexico to Miami. The bi-national series is filmed in Miami and Mexico, and features the YouTube sensations Daniel Tovar and Ricardo Polanco.

The show will feature the realities of two young people who depend heavily on social messaging apps and media, which is expected to resonate with billennials. The series is co-produced by the Colombia-based digital production company Dirty Kitchen, which is responsible for a number of highly successful Latin American web series, including “Cosita De Niñas.”

“Hispanics consume 12 hours of online video a month, two percent higher than the average U.S. audience,” said Sameer Deen, senior vice president of Univision Digital, according to a press release. “Launching ‘We Need To Talk’ is part of our commitment to delivering a wide range of Engaging Millennials love that ubiquitous content.”

The first of 12 episodes appeared last week, and the series will be uploaded weekly. It will then remain available to those who enjoy binge-watching media. Billed as Univision’s first original billenial Spanish-language web series, the network expects to attract younger audiences. Recent studies have shown second and third generation U.S. Latinos are less likely than first generation Latinos to watch Univision. Instead, they are drawn to English-language television. Perhaps the new web series will help to change that.

The comedy will only be available on Univision.com and on Univision’s YouTube channel, and it was launched on Oct. 15. Information about “Tenemos que hablar” is available through Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and countless other social media platforms.

Nat Geo Mundo Revs Its Engines for Second Season of Original Series Limomasters


20150601 PG9 LIMOMASTERSDo you believe in the American Dream? If you ask Erick Quintana, he’d say “yes!” because he is living the dream as the owner of successful vehicle customization business in Anaheim, Califor-nia, Limos by Moonlight, where he and his team convert a variety of regular passenger vehicles into the most jaw-dropping limos. Comprised of four new hour-long episodes, the second season of LimoMasters premieres on Nat Geo Mundo each Saturday, at 9PM ET/PT.

During the fun and action-packed second season, Quintana and his team of seasoned builders work up not only a sweat, but a fair share of drama and heartbreak while converting everyday vehicles into tricked-out, larger-than-life limousines.

Erick counts on a crew that includes his father, Jaime; the general manager, Lemus; the designer, Paola; and the vivacious assistant, Vivian. The team combines unmatched technical knowledge with flawless design and expertise to build the most outrageous rides ever, catering to demand-ing clients from all over the world with highly specific customization requests. This season, Quin-tana travels to meet clients in   New York, Las Vegas, and even Japan where he has the oppor-tunity to experience different flavors and cultures. In Quintana’s absence, will the team be capa-ble of maintaining a smooth business operation or will el jefe return to find his shop in chaos?

This Season also features celebrity appearances while the vehicle transformations are bigger and more detailed than ever before. From a massive conversion that required a third axle and a deco-ration overhaul fit for a king in a Cadillac Escalade, to the creation of a party bus complete with LED lights, new curvy seats, flat screen TVs, dancing poles, lasers, bars and even a bathroom, the team works tirelessly to complete their jobs with perfection as the ultimate goal. Witness the makeover of a Chrysler 300 to include all the latest technology whose final destination is New York City, and the construction of a another Escalade headed to Houston, Texas which under-goes a major overhaul and is modeled to a fitting cowboy theme. Prepare to be amazed with the spectacular work of the Limos By Moonlight team.

In addition to turning standard cars into elaborate works of stretched metal art, the LimoMasters also have to manage the office and a colourful family dynamic in the process. This Season, we learn more about every family member and their personal lives, and meet new cast members who play an important role in the business. And in an exciting new development for the family, the Quintana brood grows with the arrival of a small bundle, baby Emilio, who he hopes will one day join the family business.

LimoMasters is produced by Natural 9 Entertainment for National Geographic Channel.. Execu-tive producers are Carol Sherman, Jeff Androsky and Phil Viardo. co-executive producer is Pat-rick Taulere. For Fox International Channels, executive producer is Juana Maria Torres, director of production and programming is Veronica Montali and senior vice president of programming and production is Carmen Larios. For National Geographic Channels standards and practices, senior director is Vilma Linares, senior researcher is Maria Rivas and senior production manager is Marjolaine Souquet.

“Tierra de Reyes” Ends On Top


The finale of Telemundo telenovela “Tierra de Reyes” became the No.1 Spanish-language primetime program of the night.

20150803 pg4 tierradereyes

The drama series’ July 27 broadcast drew 2,389,000 total viewers and 1,256,000 adult viewers between the ages of 18 and 49, according to Nielsen ratings.

The show’s two-hour finale, which stars Aarón Díaz, Ana Lorena Sánchez, Gonzalo García-Vivanco, Kimberly Dos Ramos, Christian de la Campa, Scarlet Gruber, Fabián Ríos, and Sonya Smith, boosted the networks ratings high above Univision’s for a fourth time.

Telemundo, now rated as the No.1 Spanish-language network in primetime, averaged 928,000 viewers among adults 18-49.

The storyline follows the lives of three brothers seeking revenge on another family, whom they hold responsible for the tragic and mysterious death of their younger sister.

20150803 pg7 tierradelreyes

The three brothers, Arturo, Flavio, and Samuel Reyes (played by Aarón Díaz, Gonzalo García Vivanco, and Christian de la Campa, respectively) search for the truth as they decide to win the hearts of Ignacio Del Junco’s daughters in hopes of finding information on the wealthy hacienda owner (Del Junco) they suspect caused their sister’s death. Ricardo Chavez plays Del Junco, and the three daughters, Sofía, Irina, and Andrea, are played by Ana Lorena Sánchez, Kimberly Dos Ramos, and Scarlet Gruber, respectively.

Digitally, “Tierra de Reyes” became Telemundo’s best 9PM finale for both uniques and page views. The telenovela reached over 52,000 uniques on finale day across all social media platforms.

Similarly, Facebook posts during the series reached 10.6 million global Facebook users, and across Facebook and Twitter, there were a total 753,000 engagements, ranking the finale as the most engaged campaign for the network this year.

“Tierra de Reyes” not only ranked No.1 in its timeslot among Telemundo stations in Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Dallas, and Phoenix, but also ranked No.1 regardless of language, with adults 18-49 in New York, Miami, and Houston.

Block title