Last week, HBO unveiled an offbeat new comedy to their line up. The Spanish language series (with English subtitles), “Los Espookys,” made its debut on Friday, June 14th. It combines the aesthetic of a Mexican telenovella with an 80s synth-pop soundtrack, slapstick humor, dead-pan delivery and a lot of lovable characters along the way.
“Los Espookys,” is produced by Lorne Michaels in a partnership with master impressionist and SNL star, Fred Armisen. Armisen also has a recurring role on the show starring as a good-natured, legendary car-valet and devoted uncle to one of the show’s main protagonists, Renaldo – played by Bernardo Velasco. Actress Cassandra Ciangherotti and LGBTQ Co-creators, Julio Torres and Ana Fabrega, round out the main the cast.
The plot of “Los Espooky’s follows a group of friends who turn their love for horror films into an extraordinary but strange business venture, providing “horror” to those who need it for a range of different circumstances.
Take, for example, the first episode of season 1. An elderly priest, Father Francesco, contacts the friends, expressing his concern of being replaced at his church by a handsome and much younger priest, Father Antonio. In a plot to prove his relevance to the parish, he enlists the group’s help to stage and orchestrate a high-profile exorcism. It’s a bizarre remedy to his problems but a funny, possible solution nonetheless.
HBO was gracious enough to forward the full season to Instinct Magazine for us to review and invited us to meet the cast. As a long time fan of Armisen, I looked forward to speaking with him regarding his inspiration for the new show, and to commend him on yet nailing another flawless accent, so much so that I found myself Googling “Is Fred Armisen, really Hispanic?”
Also, I was particularly interested in speaking with Julio Torres and Ana Fabrega because they represent the new diversity of content creators on the TV landscape today. Torres’ character, “Andres,” is the adopted, gay heir to a chocolate empire. He has a hot, but a vapid, trophy boyfriend, Juan Carlos (Jose’ Pablo Minor), who only cares about material things. Andres, in contrast, searches for a deeper purpose for his life, inclusive of a quest to find his birth parents.
The show is a wild ride that took me through a range of emotions; from laughter to empathy for all the characters, who like so many of us, have created a chosen family to whom we are much closer than our blood relatives. Also very notable, is how the show presents the gay characters of Andres and Juan. Their sexuality did not feel exploitive as can often be the case with gay characters on TV (Just Jack).
From the very first episode, there is no pretense or explanation as to why or how they are gay. There was no “coming out” scene or discussion about when they knew they were gay. They just are, and it is irrelevant to the bigger narrative of their dysfunctional relationship. It’s a relationship not very different from those of straight couples. I was curious to know if it was a conscious decision to make “gay” a footnote as opposed to making it a prominent talking point in the script.
Julio Torres, sheds light on this component of the show, clarifying,
It’s more about their relationship. It’s like, yes Andres is gay, yes, he has a boyfriend, but above all – he’s rich! And their relationship is every bit as toxic as a heterosexual relationship.”
“Los Espookys,” boasts a refreshing dose of ethnic characters presented in non-stereotypical ways – except for maybe the hardworking “Mexican” car valets. Yes, that is a little bit of a stereotype, but they are portrayed respectfully, with smart humor. Even with their minimal screentime, you are compelled to root for them throughout the series, especially Tico (Fred Armisen), the legendary, car valet maestro, himself.
For a hauntingly good time, check out “Los Espookys,” at HBO NOW, HBO GO, and HBO On Demand. Here’s a sneak peak at the trailor: