All of my fiction writing revolves around my identity as a bisexual Mexican-American woman. My dreams revolve around the fact that I want to make a statement about who I am and who my people are. Truthfully, up until recently, it all felt a bit impossible. I kept feeling like I was writing into the void, attempting to tell stories that didn’t quite fit into the content that people were consuming. Thankfully, it feels like the landscape in the Entertainment industry is changing and slowly (some may say, snail-pace) it seems like proper representation is starting to lead the way. With shows like One Day at a Time, Vida and now Gentefied the LATINX representation has expanded to more than the stereotypical gangsters and suddenly my dreams actually feel attainable.
Gentefied premiered on NETFLIX this past Friday and having watched all 10 episodes, I can guarantee that it is a necessary viewing experience. What started as a web-series created by Marvin Lemus and Linda Yvette Chavez, became a 10-episode season on Netflix which focuses on Boyle Heights and three cousins who try to survive the gentrification of the place they grew up in. Though the show does focus on the three Morales cousins, I’d almost call this an ensemble cast. The side stories that focus on the characters in the community feel just as important and necessary as the main storylines running through each episode.
This show felt like a breath of fresh air and though it got many things right, I’d like to focus on the character of Ana played by Karrie Martin. Ana is one of the three cousins and though she’s trying to be an artist and focus on her career and on her relationship, her family keeps taking a lot of her time. She keeps needing to run off in order to help her family and it causes a strain in her relationship.
I have never felt more seen.
Family always comes first and never is that more true than in a Mexican family. The weight of what your parents have sacrificed for you seems to constantly and lovingly loom over your head. It’s never forgotten how hard they have worked to get your where you are. I struggle with this every single day. I want to fight for my dreams, while still being there for my family. I want to travel and experience the world, while still being available to help my family. In Gentefied Ana found herself grappling with the same situations and if she was being there for her family, then her relationship was hurting. A happy balance isn’t easily attainable. This feeling is so difficult to describe and I finally felt justified when I saw the scenario being played out in front of me.
I also found myself relating to the artist that Ana plays, I’ve had to defend my writing to my parents. The fights that we have had about my dreams have thankfully gotten quieter throughout the years but it’s still something that we struggle with. A struggling artist is not their version of the “American Dream” but just like Ana’s mother, my parents have found ways to be supportive.
Gentefied is a beautiful celebration of a LATINX community. My nephews are growing up in a time where their brown skin and rich culture is being celebrated on television and I couldn’t feel more inspired by it. This show, these characters and these stories have allowed my dreams to be bigger than they were before. My writing will be better for it and I am grateful.
Please I beg you to watch Gentefied on Netflix, I know you won’t regret it.