The Four Faces of Miami on TV This Season

‘«™and what they tell us about America's view of Latinos in general

By Se Fija!
Published on LatinoLA: October 24, 2011

The Four Faces of Miami on TV This Season

There's no question that Latinos are all over the tube this season, with bigger and better days to come‘«™but just how "integrated" are Latino faces and culture into the American psyche? Sometimes it seems like we're all rubbing elbows and other body parts in workplaces, movie theaters, and concert venues, as well as in TV casts and crews. And other times the two cultures seem a million miles apart.

With the recent renewal of "The Glades" for a third season, one strange indicator of that dual identify came to light. There are four different series currently in production that feature Miami as a hometown or home base (there are five, in fact, but "Charlie's Angels" is already cancelled and didn't have much time to define itself). But the views of Miami as a unique place ‘«Ű and the inclusion of Latinos in the foreground or the background ‘«Ű vary wildly on the programs‘«™as wildly as America's own self-image of Latino life in this country.

In at least one of the series, USA Network's "Burn Notice," Latinos in general and Cubans in particular are virtually invisible. None of the long-term cast, and virtually none of the rotating arc-and-one-season additions, have been Latino. Even the guest stars, extras, and seat-fillers on this show are rarely Latino. It is a strangely glitzy, even glare-y, view of the town, all palm trees and glittering water, and the only Latino faces you see tend to be South American drug kingpins or their minions, as in the one-shot spin-off TV movie starring "Sam Axe" last season, that took place primarily in a cartoon version of Colombia.

The long-lasting "CSI: Miami" does only marginally better with its portrayal of a multicultural Miami. Yes, Adam Rodriguez and Eva La Rue are still in there pitching, trying to get David Caruso to do something, anything, other than scowl, mutter, and peel off his sunglasses twice an episode, but‘«Űlike all the "CSI" shows‘«Űthe portrayal of the town and its people is oddly flat (just like Las Vegas-the original and New York, the other incarnation), and the number of recurring cast members or plot lines that involve the huge and active Cubano contingent is somewhere between small and zero.

Read the rest of this article, including an analysis of the portrayal of Latinos on "Dexter" by clicking here.

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