Almost all the broadcast networks are taking advantage of the Internet to preview their new fall shows, and NBC’s among them. Welcome to the Family, the new intercultural marriage sitcom, doesn’t premiere until early October, but you can see the pilot in its entirety right here on hulu.
Long-time and well-loved Latino actors Ricardo Chavira and Justina Machado star in this show, alongside relative newcomers Joseph Haro and Fabrizio Zacharee Guido. Veteran character actors Mary McCormack (In Plain Sight) and Mike O’Malley (Glee, among many others) are key players as well. The situation is familiar and cringeworthy: on the day of their high school graduation, the Stanford-bound valedictorian announces that his (previously secret) girlfriend, a notorious screw-up who barely got through school, are pregnant and going to be married…and the two sets of prospective in-laws can’t stand each other. The most interesting twist: the valedictorian is Latino and the screw-up’s family is Anglo, and the two future fathers-in-law have a history…and not a pleasant one.
Welcome to the Family is Number Four in a series of Five new TV series with Latino actors (playing Latino characters) at the center of shows with themes that emphasize Latino culture. Lifetime’s Devious Maids and ABC Family’s The Fosters were the first of the new wave; Demián Bichir in the gritty new crime drama The Bridge was next. Now we get a glimpse of Family; the last in line will be Gang-Related, a Fox crime drama starring Jay Hernandez and Ramon Rodriguez, among others.
Though there was understandable concern that Welcome to the Family’s premise could lead to the creation of yet another stereotypic “Latino” family, the creators of the show have gone in exactly the opposite direction. The Latino family in this particular program is the more ‘successful’ and stable one. Chavira owns a gym; his kid is bright, respectful, and responsible. And though the Anglo family isn’t exactly poor white trash–O’Malley’s a clearly successful dentist–they’re the ones with the troubled kid (who, to be fair, seems to be more of a wild child and a scatterbrain than a druggie or a slut). Equally refreshing, the “interracial friction” aspect, though present, is not the linchpin of the show. In fact, the word “Latino” isn’t even used until well into the program, when it’s Chavira who jumps to a conclusion and O’Malley responds, quite rightly, with, “Hey, I don’t have a problem with Latinos; I have a problem with that Latino,”–meaning Chavira, not the boy. In fact, he even gives the young man permission to marry his daughter, while it’s Chavira who, initially, is the hardhead. Archie Bunker and All in the Family it ain’t.
All in all, Welcome to the Family is much brighter and oddly more complex than you’d expect–more Suburgatory than ¡Rob!. The comments on hulu have ranged from “Adorable!” to “They should use this cheese to feed the homeless,” but we’ll see how reactions shape up as more viewers are exposed to the pilot…and how the numbers stack up when the show gets its ‘real’ premiere on Thursday, October 3 at 8:30P on NBC.