Goodbye summer. Welcome, fall.
This week kicks off the premieres of this year’s fall season shows, and the representation of Latino artists is at an all-time high.
More than 20 shows in all major networks will feature at least one Latino actor or actress in lead or supporting roles in both returning and premiering shows.
One show – “Welcome to the Family” starring Justina Machado and Ricardo Chavira alongside Mike O’Malley and Mary McCormack – has five Latino stars leading the way. The series premiere for the ABC show is Oct. 3 at 8:30 p.m.
Although this is not groundbreaking – that title could go to “Ugly Betty” – it highlights the changes that are happening in the industry as recent as five years ago.
“It’s a good year for us,” said Alex Nogales, president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, attributing the trend to a growing number of network Hispanic decision-makers people pushing for greater representation on screen.
“Every year we’ve been getting more Latinos both in front and behind the camera,” he said.
Starting off the season is “The X-Factor,” premiering Sept. 11 on Fox with Demi Lovato and Mexican pop singer Paulina Rubio as judges. The network is offering a double-dose of the former Disney star, who will also be guest-starring on “Glee,” premiering Sept. 26, for a six-episode stint playing Naya Rivera’s love interest.
Challenging “The X-Factor” is the NBC’s “The Voice” featuring returning judge Christina Aguilera. The talent-search show premieres Sept. 23.
New shows featuring Latino actors this season include “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Dads” and “Enlisted” on Fox; “The Michael J. Fox Show” on NBC; “Betrayal,” "Trophy Wife," "The Goldbergs" and “Super Fun Night” on ABC; and The CW’s “The Originals.”
Bel Hernandez, president and CEO of Latina Heat Media, which tracks Latino representation in entertainment circles, echoed Nogales, adding that 10 years ago a network did not have Hispanic “approved talent” that could carry a show or movie. On the other hand, Latinos who could pass as being non-Latino (like Charlie Sheen, whose original name is Carlos Estevez) changed their names to reach a greater audience.
“We didn’t have that luxury,” Hernandez said. “Now they have proven themselves – that’s a real plus right now.”
The change began to take place about five years ago and more so after the last census showed that the Latino community was a sizeable market to appeal to because it has the numbers, Nogales said.
“They had no guarantee of bringing in a Latino,” he said. “Now you have the Lopezes and Morales that nobody has to change.”
Hernandez said now Latinos can feel that they are no longer on the outside looking in.
Although there are more Latino actors on major networks, Nogales and Hernandez said there remains a lot of work to be done.
That's a sentiment shared by Mickey O’Connor, editor-in-chief of TVGuide.com.
He said networks are more conscious of diversity, which is a plus, but that he believes the much diversity casting smacks of tokenism.
“Two exceptions come to mind: Grey’s Anatomy and Glee,” O’Connor said in an email.
Returning shows with Latino actors this season are: NBC’s “Castle,” “Chicago Fire,” “Revolution,” “Law and Order: SVU” and “Parenthood.” “Dancing with the Stars,” “Modern Family,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Once Upon A Time” and “Scandal” all return on ABC while “NCIS”, “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Person of Interest” and “Blue Bloods” will return to CBS. “Beauty and the Beast” returns to “The CW.”
On “NCIS,” star Cote De Pablo will reprise her role only for the first two episodes. She announced earlier this year she would not be returning for the show’s 11th season. The show’s promo teases her exit from the show after eight years playing Ziva David.
The other growing trend in TV this season is the type of shows, said TVGuide's O'Connor.
“Genre is the new zeitgeist,” he said. “After the successes of ‘The Vampire Diaries’ and ‘Arrow’ on the CW, the market will be flooded with genre shows this fall – superhuman, supernatural and superheroes. And most of them are pretty good!”
The reason: Broadcast networks understand that although genre shows attract a smaller audience, “it’s a quality demographic, made up of many ages, races, and income levels,” O’Connor said.
He said changes don't end there.
“I think we’re moving toward shorter episode runs and the decreased importance of the September-to-May season,” O’Connor said. “Stronger summer programming, cable TV and now streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon have required networks to be more nimble in their programming decisions, year-round.”
This fall season is gearing up to be exciting, funny and dramatic.
Here is a list of premiere dates for shows featuring Latino characters. New shows are in bold.
- “The X-Factor” (Fox 8 p.m.)
- “Dads” (Fox 8 p.m.)
- “Dancing with the Stars (ABC 8 p.m.)
- “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”(Fox 8:30 p.m.)
- “The Voice” (NBC 8 p.m.)
- “Castle” (NBC 10 p.m.)
- “NCIS” (CBS 8 p.m.)
- “NCIS: Los Angeles” (CBS 9 p.m.)
- "The Goldbergs" (ABC 9 p.m.)
- "Trophy Wife" (ABC 9:30 p.m.)
- “Person of Interest” (CBS 10 p.m.)
- “Chicago Fire” (NBC 10 p.m.)
- “Revolution” (NBC 8 p.m.)
- “Modern Family” (ABC 9 p.m.)
- “Law and Order: SVU” (NBC 9 p.m.)
- “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC 9 p.m.)
- “Glee” (Fox 9 p.m.)
- “Michael J. Fox Show” (NBC 9 p.m.)
- “Parenthood” (NBC 10 p.m.)
- “Blue Bloods” (CBS 10 p.m.)
- “Once Upon a Time” (ABC 8 p.m.)
- “Betrayal” (ABC 10 p.m.)
- “Super Fun Night” (ABC 9 p.m.)
- “Welcome to the Family” (NBC 8:30 p.m.)
- “Scandal” (ABC 10 p.m.)
- “Beauty in the Beast” (CW 9 p.m.)
- “The Originals” (CW 8 p.m.)
- “Enlisted” (Fox 9:30 p.m.)