Latinos on NBC: The Mid-Season Scorecard
Continuing trouble for one of the more innovative outlets on TV…If it weren't for "The Voice"…
Originally published at Se Fija
Published on LatinoLA: November 28, 2012
Third and last in the series…
We would be willing to bet that nobody expected "The Voice" to change the world. It certainly wasn't the first singing competition in town; NBC itself had tried a couple of other formats before, and outside of the gimmicky "turning chair" thing for Christina Aguilera and the other judges, this one wasn't all that different. So what was the big deal?
Maybe the 'big deal' was the quality of the voices from the very first show, or maybe it was having the judges themselves perform regularly, or maybe it was just luck – people were tired of the histrionics on "American Idol" and unimpressed by the talent on "X-Factor" and elsewhere. In any event, "The Voice" has almost single-handedly saved NBC from an otherwise dismal year – and unfortunately, things are likely to get worse before they get better.
NBC's fading glory has affected the Latino contingent as well. The reduction of the "Law & Order" franchise to a single show and a single Latino actor, the retirement of "Chuck" and the general inability for anything else to catch fire didn't do well for anyone. And though seven (out of 23) pilots for the new season featured Latinos, only a couple of them made the cut. (Which was especially odd: the network passed over promising pilots with people like Freddy Prinze Jr., Laz Alonzo, and Aimee Garcia, but picked up obviously weak players like "Animal Practice" and "Guys with Kids instead"…though in fact, both "Animal Practice" and "Guys with Kids" include Latinos, in both cases playing non-Latino characters).
Still, the 2012 season began a heavy helping of Latinos in the mix: eight scripted series and two nights of "The Voice"–Latinos in one or more scripted show or "The Voice"–which is nearly a scripted show–virtually every night of the week, including:
"The Voice" Christina Aguilera, "social media" host Christina Milian and competitors
"Go On" Tonita Castro
"Parenthood" Sarah Ramos and Xolo Maridueña
"Animal Practice" JoAnna Garcia-Swisher
"Guys with Kids" Jamie Lynn Sigler
"Law and Order: SVU" Danny Pino
"Chicago Fire" Monica Raymund, Mo Gallini and Joe Minoso
"The Office" Oscar Nuñez
"Parks & Recreation" Aubrey Plaza
"Grimm" executive produced by Norberto Barba
As the season developed, more Latinos actors were added to some series: Daniella Alonso joined the cast of freshman sci-fi adventure "Revolution," and JD Pardo moved from the background to the foreground; the Latino cast of "Chicago Fire" grew to include Monica Raymund, Mo Gallini and Joe Minoso; and Raúl Esparza as joined "L&O:SVU" as the new D.A.
This was a good thing…while Garcia-Swisher's "Animal Practice" turned out to be the opposite of a good thing, and became the first NBC show to be cancelled. As for mid-season, Alanna de la Garza is starring in the medical thriller "Do No Harm," arriving in January.
What's good to see is Latinos being added to casts in more than one case, and that Latinos playing Latinos are prominent in more than half these scripted shows, including "Go On," "L&O:SVU," "Chicago Fire," "The Office," "Parks, and Revolution"…but given all of that advancement, the future does not look particularly bright for NBC.
"The Office," suffering from horrible ratings this season, has already announced that this season is its last, which means we'll soon be missing Oscar Nuñez on a weekly basis. "Parks and Recreation" is wallowing in ratings hell as well, and few think it will see another season…though certainly breakout star Aubrey Plaza is just at the beginning of a major career. "Revolution" has shown some ratings activity – more down than up, but good enough in a weak field to warrant some attention - but it is about to go on an already planned four-month hiatus, to be replaced by "Do No Harm." And though "Go On," "Chicago Fire" and "Guys with Kids" have been given orders for a full season of episodes, none are considered breakout hits, and second-season renewals are far from assured.
NBC's commitment to Latinos and Latino roles is well-demonstrated; its problems, unfortunately, are much wider and deeper than any one program. If it weren't for "The Voice," the net's overall numbers would put it in a tooth-and-nail battle for third place with Fox–a pretty long and hard fall for one of the majors.
As for the future? We've already lost one show, and barring a miracle, we're likely to lose at least two or three more with Latinos in the cast. The next good news could be a long way off – as far as pilot season or, sadly, Fall 2013.
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