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Mainstream television in 2016 is having a steady increase in lead roles featuring Latinas. Specifically, NBC’s upcoming and current high-profile TV shows: “Shades of Blue,” “Superstore,” and “Telenovela.”
In the upcoming drama series “Shades of Blue,” Jennifer Lopez portrays Harlee Santos, an FBI agent who is forced to be a mole for the FBI’s anti-corruption task force. The show will officially premiere on January 7, 2016.
Then there’s the sitcom “Telenovela,” where Eva Longoria will be playing Ana Sofia, a telenovela (soap opera) star whose off-camera life mirrors the endless drama she comes across in her onscreen story lines. “Telenovela” will debut on Monday, December 7, 2015.
Lastly, we have the new comedy series “Superstore,” where America Ferrera portrays Amy, a smart, witty, and committed manager who has to constantly find ways to handle all the wild and hilarious antics that happen while she’s on the clock. “Superstore” debuted on November 30, 2015 and will run regularly starting on January 4, 2016.
Other shows with lead Latina characters in mainstream media are CW’s “Jane the Virgin” and Hulu’s “East Los High.” These two shows feature a predominantly Hispanic cast.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Latinos are currently the largest “minority” group in the United States accounting for approximately 17% (54 million) of the U.S. population. Yet, they are still heavily underrepresented in popular media. Additionally, Latinos are often shown in secondary and nonrecurring stereotypical roles such as criminals, thugs, and maids.
The disproportionate portrayal of Latinos on TV and in major motion pictures can be attributed partly to the lack of Hispanic writers in television and film. With the continued growth of diversity in the United States, it’s important for current and popular television shows and films to fairly reflect underrepresented groups overall.
It is great to see that 2016 is bringing forth more shows that feature Latinos in lead roles. However, these shows have a responsibility to not continue to perpetuate the negative stereotypes of Latinos. Mainstream media still has a long way to go before there’s an accurate representation of Latinos
in television and films in comparison to their actual population proportions in the United States.