Los Angeles, Jun 23 (EFE).- A Dominican family accustomed to the good life relocates to Miami in the 1980s in hopes of even greater prosperity, but the United States fails to live up to the hype and their own lofty expectations.
That unique look at one Latino family’s immigrant experience is the subject of “Gordita Chronicles,” a coming-of-age comedy series co-executive produced by acclaimed Hispanic actresses Eva Longoria and Zoe Saldaña that premiered Thursday on the HBO Max subscription-based video streaming platform.
“The script is a lot of fun. Zoe asked if I would read this to direct, and of course I said yes before I even read it, because I just love Zoe and I know anything she’s attached to” will uplift the Hispanic community, Longoria told Efe.
Colorful, endearing and packed with laughs, “Gordita Chronicles” takes a fresh approach with its focus on an affluent family of four headed by Victor Castelli (Juan Javier Cardenas), a marketing executive who receives an attractive job offer in the US at a leading airline, and Adela (Diana Maria Riva), a vivacious woman but someone highly resistant to change.
“What I love about our family is they’re leaving the Dominican Republic with everything … they have a big house, they have a big family, they have a community, they have friends, they have a great job,” the 47-year-old actress and producer said.
Longoria directed the episode that introduces the members of the Castelli family, including the series’ main protagonists – the popular and pop culture-obsessed Emilia (Savannah Nicole Ruiz) and her younger sister Cucu, nicknamed “Gordita” (Olivia Goncalves), who is less than enamored with her new home.
Cucu also has the role of narrator, dipping into her memories and recounting with a cheeky innocence her eccentric family’s adjustment to life in 1980s South Florida.
“Unlike what you see in the media, in the news, where (people are) fleeing violence, or they’re fleeing something, when (the Castellis) come to the United States, they’re downsizing. They get a smaller house. The job takes too many taxes out. He’s making less money. He’s like, ‘whoa, wait, what happened? This wasn’t the American dream I thought it was going to be.'”
“So I love flipping that idea because Latinos are very diverse. They have very different immigration experiences, and this is just another color of that.”
Over the course of 10 episodes, released simultaneously Thursday on HBO Max, Cucu looks back on the different obstacles her family faced, from difficulties with the English language to subtly racist comments to the challenge of fitting in at school.
Saldaña said these experiences are almost universal for members of the Hispanic community in the US, adding that each character in the screenplay written by Puerto Rican-born Claudia Forestieri (Good Trouble; Selena: The Series) reminded the executive producers of themselves or a member of their own family.
“Gordita Chronicles” also has nostalgic appeal for viewers who grew up in and look back fondly on the 1980s, depicting the Miami of four decades ago when kids sported poofy hair styles and wore denim clothes and the sounds of Michael Jackson and a young Gloria Estefan were heard on the streets.
Longoria, for her part, stressed the uniqueness of a project of this magnitude having so many Hispanics on board.
“It’s rare. It’s rare that so many of us Hispanics are involved in a big project, with a big (streaming) platform … I wish it were more normal. But for now we’re very proud of this,” she said. EFE