CBS’s “¡Rob!” Misses Its Target (Market).
This sometimes comes as a shock to people, but the television broadcasting industry does not exist to produce entertainment content. It exists to provide media companies the opportunity to create a product to sell to advertisers. What’s the product? It is you, the audience!
Right now, one of the hottest demographics in the industry is the Latino viewership. Advertisers are absolutely chomping at the bit to grab the attention of Latinos, and it should come as no surprise that television content integrating specifically-Latino characters is starting to become more prevalent. (In recent years, we saw The George Lopez Show, Ugly Betty and Modern Family.)
Last week, CBS jumped on the bandwagon with their new series, ¡Rob!, starring Rob Scheider, Cheech Marin and Claudia Bassols, about a white guy who spontaneously marries his Latina girlfriend and unknowingly becomes a part of a boisterous Mexican-American family. The creators of the show clearly thought comedy would naturally ensue from this sort of set up. Instead though, what CBS has presented is a borderline offensive storyline based on stereotypical assumptions of two cultures. The jokes range from poor taste to just plain racist. Also, the writing and timing is really terrible, but that’s a minor concern compared to everything else. Whether you’ve seen it, are watching it or plan to watch it, I am here to give you a couple reason why you should keep on flipping to another channel.
Top 3 Reasons Not to Watch ¡Rob!.
1. Immigration isn’t actually a joke.
This is a sit-com, so there isn’t a whole lot of room for appropriately addressing real issues in the real world. However, the jokes made about immigration are ridiculous. Immigration is an actual issue that is an actual part of a lot of people’s lives, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. It is especially obnoxious that the punch lines are delivered by the Mexican-American characters because if they say it, then it isn’t racist, right? Nice try, CBS.
2. Not all Latinos are Mexican (shocking, I know).
Does it annoy anyone else that the show (not created or produced by Latinos) chose a Mexican-American family out of all the possibilities? I am well aware that the focus had to be on a particular family, and this particular family needed a specific nationality. Yet, I think the show’s creators chose what was easiest, and what they felt that the non-Latino members of the viewership were more likely to relate to. The presentation is painfully cliche from how the family dynamic plays out to the interior design of the set, and I’m afraid the danger here is the implication that this cliche representation of Mexican-American culture = all other Latino culture. This is clearly a problem because it just reinforces pre-existing stereotypes.
3. Cultures don’t always clash.
The entire premise of this show is based on the clashing of stereotypical white culture (boring, neurotic, upper-middle class, white male with a dysfunctional family) with stereotypical Mexican-American culture (exciting family-oriented Latina with a crazy family including an over-bearing mother and illegally immigrated uncle). The humor and the punch lines come from the assumption that these two cultures will necessarily clash. This type of thought process further supports negative stereotypes on both sides, and also feeds misconceptions and negative attitudes which pervade the National dialogue on issues like citizenship, culture and immigration. There needs to be a greater effort made towards adding positive voices to the discourse not making jokes based on the same old tired assumptions.
In an effort to be fair, I waited to write this post until after I had seen at least two episodes (The Pilot aired Thursday, January 12th and the second episode aired Thursday, January 19th.) Clearly, viewing the second episode didn’t alter my opinions. La Rubia definitely thinks ¡Rob! belongs in the basura.