We spend a whole lot of time–maybe too much–monitoring the ups and down, comings and goings of Latinos on network TV, when in truth there are a great many Latino entertainers working every week, in front of millions of viewers, all year round:
Cable TV is taking over the world. We're just not paying enough attention.
This week is emblematic of how much is happening at what was once called "the lower end of the dial." But there's nothing "lower" about it anymore, especially in this age of TiVo and timeshifting. Check it out: in the last few days alone:
"Royal Pains" had its season premiere on USA
"Hot in Cleveland" had its season finale on TVLand
"Necessary Roughness" had its season premiere on USA
"Happily Divorced" has its season finale on TVLand
"Fast n Loud" premiered on Discovery
"Adam Richman's Best Sandwich in America" premiered on The Travel Channel
"Million Dollar" Listing had its season premiere on Bravo
…and other reality shows premiered on CMT and truTV. In a single day.
Not all of those are Latino-involved (though Rita Moreno continues to be the funniest thing about "Happily Divorced," and you'll see Latino guest starts like Adam Rodriguez and Alexa Vega on "Necessary Roughness" and "Royal Pains" coming up in the next few weeks), but the point is there is "tons" of activity on cable in general, unrelated to the programming on the Big Three and Little Two. And at this point, what with migration away from the broadcast nets (and often from TV in general), the numbers that some of cable's more popular shows are generating meet and even exceed the viewership for some CW and FOX shows, especially in key demographics.
In short: Cable is a force to be reckoned with, and Latinos are a major part of the movement.
Consider just this short and incomplete list:
James Roday is not just the star of USA's "Psych," he writes and directs episodes as well
Gina Torres is the boss on USA's "Suits"
Sarah Shahi and Esai Morales arc on the second season of "Fairly Legal," also on the USA Network
Victoria Justice shines on "VicTORius," along with Ariana Grande on Nickelodeon
Kiele Sanchez and Carlos Gomez are as sexy and smart as even on "The Glades" on A&E, just now returning for a new season
Half a dozen talented Latinos, including Marlene Forte, Jordana Brewster, Julie Gonzalo and Carlos Bernard, are major players in Cynthia Cidre's take on "Dallas," premiering this month on TNT
Seychelle Gabriel on TNT's "Falling Skies"
David Zayas and Lauren Velez continue to be awesome as the strongest Latino characters on television on "Dexter" on Showtime
Jimmy Smits and Wanda de Jesus is coming to "Sons of Anarchy" on FX, a show that's already had many arcs featuring Latinos, including Danny Trejo, Benito Martinez, Emilio Rivera and others
A young Adrian Moreira-Behrens as joined Valente Rodriguez and Rita Moreno, who continues to makes waves at 80 years old on TVLand's "Happily Divorced"
Francia Raisa, Paola Turbay, Philip Anthony-Rodriguez on "Secret Life of the American Teenager" on ABC Family
Constance Marie on "Separated at Birth" on ABC Family
Bella Thorne and our buddy Adam Irigoyen is still making waves and breaking hearts on "Shake it Up" on The Disney Channel
Melissa De Sousa on BET's "Reed Between the Lines"
Ian Gomez will continued to be part of the "Cougar Town" ensemble as it moves to TBS
Yul Vázquez and Dominik Garcia-Lorido in "Magic City" on Starz
…and of course "Dora the Explorer" (voiced by Caitlin Sanchez) and "Handy Manny" (Voiced by Wilmer Valderrama) continue to rule the kid's world. (Hey, they may be fictional and animated, but they still matter!)
And that's just scratching the surface, and only covers scripted series on the English-only cable nets. New shows are coming so quickly, and premiering or finishing up full seasons at such a brisk pace, it's very hard to keep track of everything's that's happening, all the time.
So when we're assessing the growth and importance of Latino Hollywood on the tube, it's important to take all of the screens into account. But one thing's pretty clear: when looking at shows as high-quality and varied as "Dexter," "Psych," "The Glades," and now "Dallas," the Latino presence in TV is strong and going stronger.