The longest running variety show in television history is coming to an end.
In its 53 years of existence, hours of comedy sketches, and hundreds of automobile giveaways, “Sabado Gigante,” the Univision staple since 1962, made a mark around the world by creating what billion-dollar television networks could never do ― Latino television.
The television classic, led by Chilean host Mario Blumenfeld, better known as Don Francisco, emerged as the show that brought the Latino family together. While women had their soap operas and men their soccer games, Sabado Gigante was the show both husband and wife, mom and dad, kids, and everyone in the family could sit down and watch ― together.
Sabado Gigante gave audiences a show where they wouldn’t see Latinos trying to be Latinos. It was just television, where talk show, comedy segment and music performances were all mixed into one three-hour broadcast every Saturday night.
And while it’s unfair to compare weigh Sabado Gigante against other Latino television heavyweights, it can be argued that Univision most probably brought it to an end due to the rapidly changing demographic it caters to.
This doesn’t mean that the world needs no more of Don Francisco, however. I’d say the world needs him now more than ever.
In an age where pregnant virgins and struggling lawyers make up the top two Latino TV shows (CW’s “Jane the Virgin” and ABC’s “Cristela”), Don Francisco is being put to the test. How can he bring the Latino family in front of their television sets again?
He’s said it before, “"From the start we made sure to ask, 'What does the audience want?'”
And I believe that’s what he’s doing now.
While Don Francisco is still able to pull in viewers - around 2 million viewers tuned in last week alone – he is doing what any smart businessman would do: Adapt.
He may be a 74-year-old host trying to cater to an 18 to 49 year old demographic, but that doesn't mean he’s out of the game just yet.
I predict that a new Mario Blumenfeld project is in the works, one where Latinos in college dormitories, raising their first kids, or becoming preteens in this new generation of iphones and Instagram will all be inclined to pay attention.
Ingrid Vasquez is a fourth-year Journalism and Mexican American Studies student at the University of Texas at Austin.