‘Gentefied’ Is for All the Latinx Kids Who Never Fit In
I’m a Brown woman adopted by a White family — and the new Netflix show helped me realize I am Latina enough
When I first heard about the Netflix show Gentefied, a bilingual comedy produced by America Ferrera of Ugly Betty fame, I clicked that Add button so fast I almost dropped my phone.
Created by two Latinx writers, Marvin Lemus and Linda Yvette Chávez, Gentefied focuses on three cousins who come together to try and keep their grandfather’s popular taco shop in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, from succumbing to neighborhood gentrification. The trailer immediately pulls you in with comedic flair, but it’s the cast that made me add the show to my Netflix queue. It’s the only American show other than One Day at a Time that I’ve seen on my Netflix suggested page that focuses on a brilliant cast made up of Latinx folks like me. But even more importantly, the show’s Morales family gave me the opportunity to see through the eyes of a typical Latinx family — especially because I’m a Colombian woman adopted by a White family.
I grew up in the suburbs of New York surrounded by mostly White people. The food, music, and clothing seen on Gentefied is vastly different from the array of pasta and chicken parm my adopted Italian family raised me on. The closest I got to having a Latinx mother were the times when my father-in-law and his Venezuelan girlfriend stayed with my husband and me for a few months.
Her dinner table of daily arepas, plátanos, and an array of spices has since inspired me to learn more about my culture beyond the food. When she left, I found myself yearning to hear Spanish chatter within the walls of my house and see more cultural elements in my small home in rural Pennsylvania.
The day Gentefied debuted on Netflix, my binge-watch began between feeding my toddlers and changing diapers. We meet Chris Morales (Carlos Santos), one of the three cousins, who’s working in the kitchen of an upscale restaurant. He’s surrounded by Mexicans who look just like him, but he’s the only one who has trouble understanding the chef’s instructions in Spanish. He’s mocked by everyone in the kitchen for not being able to pick up the language — they end up calling him Forrest…