About how much I love East Los High, the first entirely Hispanic tv series set at a high school in East LA? Latino television has come a long way since America Ferrera burst through Latino TV barriers by starring in Ugly Betty as a sweet, innocent, naive second generation assistant from Brooklyn.
East Los High, which can be seen in its entirety on hulu, not only stars a cast of young Hispanic actors, but also explores mature content in a realistic way, delving into teen drama and sexual relationships. The characters of the series are young people with real dreams- like becoming a journalist, a chef or dancing on a local show. These teens deal with pregnancy scares, sex ed and domestic abuse.
The show stars Jessie, a young girl who dreams of dating Jacob the hottest guy in school. This upsets Vanessa, the typical high school teen drama queen of mean and Jacob’s ex-girl friend. Eventually, Jessie’s cousin Maya shows up on the scene after running away from home and things heat up in the kitchen between her and Jacob. The series plays up Maya’s serious talent in the kitchen featuring authentic, mouthwatering, and healthy Mexican recipes. Check out Maya’s delicious recipes here and here and make sure to watch an episode of this explosive series.
As a young person, I followed the career of Ferrera from her first on screen appearance in the film Las Mujeres Verdaderas Tienen Curvas. As a young girl growing up in Texas I idolized Tejano cross over superstar Selena Gomez and cried right through the end of Selena. During college, I remember heading to indie film houses to see Frida, Motorcycle Diaries and even taking a friend to see Quincenera, a film about a young girl who gets pregnant right before her sweet 15. After I finished school, my brother insisted I watch From Prada to Nada a teen film that barely made waves.
It’s gratifying to see this milestone for Latino culture. The Huffington Post interviewed East Los director/producer Carlos Portugal saying, “The cast of East Los High will have no gardeners, no gangbangers and no maids”. According to HuffPo, the series grew out of partnerships with Latino and other groups advocating safe sex for teens. NPR‘s Brenda Solis called the show “A Latino Degrassi”. Hopefully, this will signify a trend in casting Hispanics in a more positive light.