diversity is golden

After a brief hiatus of, oh let’s see…seven months (!), I am happy to be back with a somewhat decent grasp of my time. Many of you know of our relocation to Martha’s Vineyard, where we have purchased an iconic dive bar/live music venue. Life just keeps getting more interesting. So, let’s get back to it.

 

A couple of years ago, my daughter was finishing up her Film and Television degree at Boston University. She shared with me a class discussion about our entering another “Golden Age” of television with HBO and Netflix productions gaining popularity. Having paid the BU tuition and knowing the full cost of said film degree, I took her word as well-educated gospel.

It was about that same time that our DVR started to fill up with episodes of “Homeland”, “The Newsroom”, “Parenthood” (highly underrated), “Downton Abbey”, etc. Terms like “binge watch” were spot on, as Larkin and I would look at each other, bleary eyed, after 4 hours of “House of Cards”… “One more?”, we’d beg each other in unison.

One of the golden elements of television now, is the fact that our favorite pastime is on our time. We decide when, how, where and even the device to watch our favorite shows. No planning your life around a TV schedule, just carefully navigating your Twitter feed for any spoilers.

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For me, there is a much different “Golden Age” of television occurring with the parade of Hispanics and diversity marching across my screen in the CW’s “Jane the Virgin”. Holy Golden Brown Goodness!

Having a show like this on TV when I was a kid, would’ve been a game changer. (Not to mention a brown Barbie doll, but that’s another post.)

I remember a story Oprah Winfrey recounted from her childhood, when she saw Diana Ross and the Supremes on TV. She and her friends yelled from house to house, “Black people on TV! Black people on TV!”

I could so relate to this.

As a little girl in 1974, it was my starry-eyed dream to be on TV. But, there wasn’t anyone who looked like me on that big, console screen. On any of the four channels. I remember being thankful that I had a distant second cousin that mildly resembled Tony Orlando.

Where were all the brown skinned, doe-eyed girls like me?

Fast forward to the 80’s and my days of acting and modeling auditions. “Too exotic.” “What are you?!” “We’re looking for someone more ‘girl-next-door.'” “Too ethnically confusing.” Well, I was in Dallas, Texas. The makers of J.R. Ewing apparently didn’t know what to do with me.

And speaking of “ethnically confusing”, when I auditioned for an actual Hispanic role, the casting director simply stated, “You’re not Mexican enough.” Seriously.

So, at 48, I finally can see a cast of strong, smart, beautiful Latina women on TV. And that is oro puro. (Go ahead, look it up.)

Lauren Duca recently wrote a great Huffington Post article on the break-out series:Β ” ‘Jane the Virgin’ is that show everyone is talking about. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Yeah, the one based on accidental artificial insemination. If you wrote it off based on that premise, you’d be justified, considering it’s about a pregnant virgin. Except, that absurd log line turned out to be a huge component of its unlikely charm.”

“Unlikely charm,” indeed. Gina Rodriguez, the “virgin” heroine is authentic, approachable and, well, like the “girl next door.” The diversity of the cast is a genuine attempt to depict what this country looks like now. For a show that never mentions race, it is a realistic representation of how we should appreciate and celebrate our different cultures and traditions. The depiction is the melting pot our country deserves to be.

Before I start in about how divided we are in reality and get all political, I will stop here and just celebrate and congratulate the entire cast and crew of “Jane the Virgin”. It is just good, fun television.

This morning, I watched the announcement of the Golden Globe nominations. As I listened to Gina Rodriguez named as a nominee in the “Best Actress in a Television Series” category, I smiled to myself.

My 1974, brown skinned, doe-eyed self.

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5 comments

  1. Ha! Jackie, I discovered Jane the Virgin after hearing the nominations this morning. Madison and I settled in to check it out and have just now finished binging on all available episodes. Great call and you’ve given wonderful insights. Bravo! (btw, this is Sarah)

    1. Hey, Sarah! Larkin & I are addicted to this show. It really is such a nice diversion from all the real world crap. I feel like it’s hard to tell the difference between the news and Homeland. Thanks so much for your kind words and support.

  2. I don’t seem to be able to find time to watch much TV – except around Oscar time. Juan’s cafe has DVDs for 40 pesos ($2.80USD) and I binge before the Oscars. The rest of the time, I’m just into a gazillion things.
    You REALLY need to come visit San Miguel de Allende. It is so incredibly architecturally beautiful. A cultural icon with great small restaurants and GREAT music. Even Doc Severinsen and many others live here and still perform.
    I doubt I’ll ever return to the USA. It would only be under extreme circumstances. I love this culture, the kindness and gentleness of the people and their traditions. I am the abuela on my block! The only “white woman” on my block………tee hee.

    1. I can just picture you there…”abuela”! Love it. I have heard such wonderful things about SM. I imagine you love it the way I love this island. How lucky we are to have found our special places. Would love to visit!

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