Bumblebee Man from The Simpsons and child surveyor Dora The Explorer will no longer stand alone as the animated representatives of the Latino community on the small screen. FOX’s “Animation Domination” is ready to receive the Latin funk it so desperately needs with the premiere of Bordertown in 2016.
The original series, created by Mark Hentemann and executively produced by Seth MacFarlane, tells a comedic story of how a white border patrol agent struggles to put aside his insecurities and political bias to befriend his neighbor, an ambitious, family-oriented Mexican immigrant.
Set in the fictional town of Mexifornia located near the Mexican border, Bud Buckwald (voiced by The Simpsons actor Hank Azaria) and his family live in a very diverse neighborhood where a cultural shift is underway. While Bud remains slightly fearful of the cultural changes, Ernesto Gonzalez (voiced by Nicholas Gonzalez) and his family break all stereotypes of the modern Latino family with their success and help Bud see the great things integration can do for the community.
The groundbreaking show will help break the mold of the average Latin sitcom by offering a comedic point of social views, such as deportation. The series also portrays how successful the Latino families can become in the U.S. With “¡Ask a Mexican!” columnist Gustavo Arellano and famed cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz on staff, Hentemann and MacFarlane have gone above and beyond to guarantee an authentic perspective, which will establish a new standard for future Latin comedies.
Unsurprisingly, Bud’s early rapport with his Mexican neighbor Ernesto was heavily clouded by intimidation and jealousy. Since he owns his own landscaping business, Ernesto and his family are wealthy and have achieved the American dream Bud and his family are still in pursuit of.
Bud’s initial hostility towards Ernesto is reminiscent of non-Hispanic U.S. citizens who resent undocumented immigrants for dominating the workforce. In the trailer, Bud scoffs at Ernesto’s humble abode as he looks off to his own rat-infested home. However, as their families become more intertwined, Bud and Ernesto learn to embrace their friendship.
“[Ernesto] is industrious, hard-working, unflappable,” says the show’s creator Mark Hentemann. “He came here to pursue the American dream, and he’s achieved it in many ways.”
Unlike FOX’s past animated series like American Dad and Bob’s Burgers, Bordertown embraces more aspects of the Latino culture, from nostalgic family moments to Spanish slang. During a panel at the NALIP Media Summit, Alcaraz spoke about his role as one of five Latino writers for the show and commented on defending Mexican phrases like “pocho” in order to keep it in the script.
“It used to be an insult, but now it’s like a cool thing or whatever. So the Standards and Practices person was not having it, but the whole episode was about being a pocho, about going back to Mexico and not knowing what the hell’s going on. So it’s really a weird space for us.”
There are still mere signs of cheap stereotyping, like the taco and burrito references and drunken Spring Breakers puking into a sombrero. However, the show overall is a step in the right direction for Latinos on mainstream television. With other Latin-based shows like NBC’s Vlad set to hit primetime in 2016, Bordertown has the potential to recreate the misguided stereotypes of the past and become another hilarious addition to TV history.
Along with Gonzalez and Azaria, veteran voice actor Carlos Alazraqui, “Pedro” from Napoleon Dynamite Efren Ramirez, Family Guy actress Alex Borstein, and 30 Rock joker Judah Friedlander contribute to the diverse cast.
Bordertown premieres on FOX Sunday, Jan. 3 at 9:30 PM EST.