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'Los Jets': Thanks to Jennifer Lopez, TV Follows Soccer to Mayberry
August 12, 2014  | By Gabriela Tamariz
 

Soccer is a hot TV commodity these days. Whether we’re talking about Tim Howard’s stellar performance in the 2014 FIFA USA vs. Germany game or the new series Matadoron the El Rey Network, soccer is beginnning to populate the American televisual landscape more prominently.

It should be no surprise that NuvoTV is hopping on the soccer wave with its docuseries Los Jets, which presents its season finale Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET. Known for its Latino-themed programming, the English-language network is changing things up with chief creative officer Jennifer Lopez, by developing original, culturally and politically relevant content targeting the U. S. Hispanic audience.

Los Jets is a true American story about a high school soccer team made up of young Latino students that defied the odds in a small Southern town. The series definitely has a Friday Night Lights vibe, but its authenticity is unmatched. Many of these soccer players and their families have experienced illegal immigration, and have worked their whole lives to prove themselves to a community that has met them with great resistance. It’s admirable to see how eager and dedicated the students are to making the most of their education and talent—even with the hovering risk of deportation and disruption in the family home.

The docuseries begins by telling the story of a passionate coach who saw a valuable opportunity to help young, Latinos feel included in the community. Comparable to Mayberry, NC from the American classic The Andy Griffith Show, Siler City is a small Carolina town that experienced an influx of Latino immigrants in the 1990s.

You wouldn’t generally think of North Carolina as a location populated by many Latinos, but this is a perfect example of how quickly and widespread the Hispanic community is growing in other places besides New York City, Miami or Los Angeles. Today, in Siler City, 55 percent of the population is Latino.

Initially, Los Jets director Mark Landsman intended to direct a one-hour documentary, but after meeting with executive producer Lynda Lopez, the project developed into a six-part series. He ascribed universality to the story, and expressed admiration and respect for Coach Paul Cuadros, who achieved so much with so few resources, and who coaches his young players off the field as well as on, guiding them in how to best confront and combat community prejudice.

Landsman’s ties to immigration date back to his great-grandparents, who were immigrants from Ukraine. With the docuseries, he told TVWW he wanted to create a broader connection.

“This is the reality of what’s happening in this country,” said Landsman.

Los Jets is more than just a high school soccer team. It’s a story that humanizes the immigration issue affecting millions of Americans. This series is commendable for stepping up and focusing on a subject that is widely misinterpreted and sometimes ignored in the general media. By putting faces to the immigration issue, perhaps the conversation can change.

The series will be available on Hulu Latino, as well as mynuvotv.com.
 
 
 
 
 
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Good news, TVWW readers: David’s new book from Doubleday, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific is available on Amazon for under $20.

Doubleday says: “Darwin had his theory of evolution, and David Bianculli has his. Bianculli's theory has to do with the concept of quality television: what it is and, crucially, how it got that way."

"The Platinum Age of Television is an effusive guidebook that plots the path from the 1950s’ Golden Age to today’s era of quality TV. For instance, animation evolved from Rocky and His Friends to South Park; variety shows moved from The Ed Sullivan Show to Saturday Night Live; and family sitcoms grew from I Love Lucy to Modern Family. A high point is the author’s interviews with Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Bob Newhart, Matt Groening, Larry David, Amy Schumer and many others...Bianculli has written a highly readable history." —The Washington Post

 

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