Latinos on CBS: The Mid-Season Scorecard
A rare moment of hope after years of under-performance. And then…
Originally published at Se Fija!
Published on LatinoLA: November 26, 2012
For years, CBS has had the fewest number of Latinos in front of the camera compared to any of the other broadcast networks – in some recent seasons, even fewer than the 'mini-nets' like the CW and Fox. But as this season began, things looked a little better – a "little."
The net's anemic performance to date was painfully obvious. By the end of last season, Cote de Pablo of "NCIS" and Makenzie Vega on "The Good Wife" were virtually alone on the network – the only Latino actors in regular supporting roles on all of CBS. "CSI: Miami," with Eva La Rue and Adam Rodriguez, had been cancelled; arcs on other series, like Monica Raymund on "Blue Bloods" and "The Good Wife," Miguel Ferrer on "NCIS: Los Angeles" and Raul Esparza on the already forgotten "A Gifted Man" had come and gone, and the late coming "NYC 22" with Judy Marte and Felix Solis, delayed until the dog days of Spring, sank without a trace, like Freddy Rodríguez' "Chaos" the year before. And the less said about "Rob!"'s arrival and departure, the better.
Then the pilots for 2012-13 gave us a little hope. CBS has a remarkable eight pilots–half of the total number they authorized–with Latinos in front or behind the camera, including JoAnna Garcia Swisher, Louis C.K., Jay Hernandez, Natalie Martinez and more.
Strangely, of the sixteen pilots CBS made, only four of them actually made it onto the schedule. And of that quartet, two of them had Latinos involved: Tracy Vilar was apparently a supporting-cast member of "Partners," the new David Krumholz sitcom, and director/producer Michael Cuesta was involved with the new Sherlock Holmes update, "Elementary."
Even better, a couple of Latino actors had been added to CBS shows as well: Manny Perez was to be the cop working with Sherlock on "Elementary," and Felix Solis was going to be working in a similar capacity on the new legal drama, "Made in Jersey." Combine that with the continued presence of Cote de Pablo and Makenzie Vega, and it looked as if things were actually improving at CBS.
As the season got fully underway, it began to look even better:
Miguel Ferrer's growly boss reappeared in more episodes of "NCIS: Los Angeles"
Natalie Martinez joined the every-week cast of "CSI: New York"
Aimee Garcia, still doing great work on "Dexter," was doubling up for a supporting role on the new nostalgia/mob drama "Vegas"
…which, combined with the other shows, meant that CBS often had Latinos in original, scripted programming every night of the week (except Saturday, of course, when nobody had any new programming.)
For a little while, it looked as if CBS was finally setting itself a place at the table.
It turned out to be a very little while.
Now, as the mid-season break looms, most – though not all – of those promising advances have been erased.
"Made in Jersey" achieved the distinction of being the first show of the season to be cancelled, and took Felix Solis with it when it left
"Partners" and Tracy Vilar was cancelled and removed from the CBS web site virtually overnight.
Manny Perez appeared in the pilot of "Elementary," but hasn't been seen since
Aimee Garcia was on "Vegas" for all of two or three episodes, then gone
Bottom line: all of the new programming with Latinos involved that CBS announced for the new season has already been cancelled, or the Latino actors left behind, leaving Natalie Morales and Miguel Ferrer to fill out the "count" that "CSI: Miami"'s actors filled for most of last season: four actors in four series. Essentially, we're back where we started a year ago.
It's good to see a lot more Latinos in guest-starring roles on shows like "The Mentalist" and "Person of Interest," and equally nice to see Martinez playing a smart and accomplished Latina on "CSI:NY"–a franchise that hasn't been particularly Latino-friendly in years past. But it's hard not to feel a little disappointed: it actually looked like CBS was surging forward…and now it's returned to pretty much its old levels.
That didn't take long.
Next up: The Rise and Fall (and Fall and Fall) of NBC.
Related stories on LatinoLA.com
Latinos on ABC: The Mid-Season Scorecard
Latinos on CBS: Continuing Disappointment