Fighting Back Against the Liberal Monopoly on Telenovelas

by Christine Sisto
A new web series promotes conservative ideals.

A new web series aims to bring patriotic and pro-market entertainment to a medium that’s generally produced by the left: the telenovela.

Familia con Fuego / Family with Fire has so far spanned five dramatic five-minute episodes. Clara del Villar, the show’s executive producer, says Family delivers sudsy stories and at the same time “highlights the rewards of a free-market society while entertaining a young, multicultural audience.”

The result is a refreshingly pro-American entry in a genre that doesn’t often treat American society as attractive or worthwhile.

Latin television is well known for its liberal tilt. National Review Online’s Jillian Kay Melchior reported on a study in April that found 45 percent of Spanish-language news stories on Univision and Telemundo “had a distinct left-liberal slant.”

Univision’s popular telenovelas are no exception. Thirty million Hispanic households in the United States regard telenovelas as their leading form of entertainment. Univision alone garners 10 million novela viewers for a single episode. That’s a large number of people closely following plots that push left-wing, progressive ideals.

Political views in the Hispanic community are more diverse than those reflected in Spanish-language news and entertainment. Melchior sites a Pew Hispanic Center finding that “Thirty-two percent of all Latinos polled said their political views were either ‘conservative’ or ‘very conservative’ . . . Only 30 percent reported their political views as liberal.”

Family with Fire, which is presented by the Hispanic Free Market Network, pushes back with the story of the Flores family, a multi-generational clan that runs and owns a successful restaurant. They are unashamedly patriotic, with a Navy SEAL among the sons. They are proud and protective of their business, which flourishes thanks to the free market and is jeopardized by a government bureaucrat who recalls the EPA inspector in Ghostbusters.

The show’s pro-market ethos extends to a laissez-faire approach on immigration that conservatives might find jarring. Illegal immigration, and a vaguely defined immigration bill alluded to in the show’s very expository dialogue, dominate the first five episodes.

In fact, when the man from the government makes an appearance, he is an I.C.E. official threatening to close the restaurant because some of its employees are illegal immigrants.

The series turns campy at times. A Hispanic tomato and an Anglo avocado urge the mother character to be a voice for immigration reform. (The tomato is later hurled at the I.C.E. official, leaving audiences to wonder if this constitutes murder.) When the Flores’s sous-chef cuts his finger in what looks like a pretty low-impact carrot-related mishap, the result is a bloodbath recalling Dan Aykroyd’s Julia Child impression.

Later, heroine Camilla Flores (Sorayo Padrao) gets a visit from a lousy ex-boyfriend, who shows up to the restaurant with his pretty young fiancée. Yet after exchanging a few combative lines with Camilla, he returns the next day with flowers, declaring his love for her and conveniently having forgotten the fiancée.

Camp is part of the show’s charm, however. The series is directed by Emmy winner Mike Stodden and edited by Emmy nominee Helen Maier.

The series is funded by the Krieble Foundation, American Principles Project, and Americas PAC and can be watched at hispanicpost.com.

— Christine Sisto is an editorial associate at National Review Online.

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