Last night I started thinking about the portrayals of Latinas on TV. Mostly, this line of thought was motivated by my wondering how Delia would see herself (I'm guessing as both Latina and Asian) in the future. Selfishly, I considered only the Latina roles. While this is no scientific study (yes, I skipped statistics in college), it seemed to me that all of the Latinas I saw on sitcoms and dramas were in fact "sexy or saucy" types. Here's a brief overview (I know there are more, but I don't watch "Freddie" or "The George Lopez Show.")
- Carla on "Scrubs": Pros -- She's a great nurse; She's married to a surgeon; She's close to her family; She has the respect of her fellow nurses and is best friends with Elliot. Cons -- She is a horrible gossip; She is super bossy; She definitely fits into the "saucy Latina" stereotype, but at least shes likable and one half of the cutest married couple on TV. Let's not forget this week's introduction to Nurse Martinez, who is such a stereotype the male nurses followed her around making Latin dance shoulder-shakes right out of "West Side Story"
- Ana Lucia on "Lost": Pros -- Um, let's see. Well, she's a police officer and the daughter of a female police captain); she seems genuinely upset that she killed Shannon. Cons -- She mistakenly killed Shannon; She hurt and imprisoned and trapped Jin, Michael and Sawyer; She is super bossy; She referred to sex as "hitting that" and she's just a general uber-bitch. Not only is she a "saucy Latina," but she's almost completely unlikable, even if you take into consideration that she lost her baby at the hands of an armed robber (whom she later kills in cold blood, by the way).
- Catalina on "My Name is Earl": Pros -- She is sweet to Earl and his dimwitted brother Randy. She occasionally helps them as they try to cross bad deeds off of Earl's list. Cons -- She's a motel maid; She was a stripper before that; She apparently doesn't have her immigration status in order; She is the embodiment of the sexy Latina maid/nanny/service-worker.
- Gabby on "Desperate Housewives": Pros -- She's a loyal and generous friend to the other Wisteria Lane gals; She loves her husband, even though he's a white-collar criminal and was in prison; She remained faithful to him after disclosing her infidelity. Cons -- She's incredibly shallow and materialistic; She cheated on her husband; She's always in skin-tight, barely there clothes; She's extremely jealous
- Chuni on "E.R.": Pros -- She's a(nother) nurse; She's always quick to help the docs; She's liked by her coworkers. Cons -- She's a horrible gossip and a bit player on the show.
Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against these characters. As a TV junkie I love the shows they appear on each week, and God knows I'm thrilled that at least a half-dozen Latinas are on primetime television at all. I'm just worried that my daughter will grow up seeing nothing but sexy, saucy, gossipy, bitchy, big-butted and finger-snapping Latinas (even if they are on good shows).