With the Fall TV season starting next week (September 13th), we decided there was no better time to evaluate the diversity efforts of various TV networks (both broadcast & cable). Over the next couple of weeks, we'll be grading the networks (including FOX, NBC, CBS, HBO, and Showtime, among others), on how well (or not well) they feature Latino stars on primetime television. First up? ABC.
This fall, ABC—which was once home to shows about Latino families (The George Lopez Show, Ugly Betty)—is welcoming a handful of new Latino stars to the network. Sexy 31-year-old Puerto Rican actor Ramon Rodriguez is guaranteed to make women swoon as the iconic character Bosley in ABC's sexy new series Charlie's Angels—and the same goes for half-Peruvian hottie Benjamin Bratt, who joins the cast of the medical drama, Private Practice full-time this fall.
Elsewhere on the network, Golden Globe-winning Puerto Rican actor Hector Elizondo (Pretty Woman) is one of the stars of the new Tim Allen comedy Last Man Standing, while Salvadorian actor J.R. Martinez is one of the celebs competing for the title on the new season of Dancing with the Stars. Half-Puerto Rican actress, Lana Parrilla (Swingtown) has also landed a lead role on ABC this fall. She'll play the evil queen in one of their biggest shows of the fall—the spellbinding new drama, Once Upon A Time.
But it's not just the new ABC shows that are featuring Latino talent prominently. There are several Latino stars on returning ABC shows, including Mexican actress Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives), Colombian actress Sofia Vergara (Modern Family) and Mexican actress Sara Ramirez (Grey's Anatomy).
The network also has a slew of Latino stars in supporting roles, including Jon Huertas (Castle), Ian Gomez (Cougar Town), Ricardo Chavira (Desperate Housewives), Rico Rodriguez (Modern Family) and Madison de la Garza (Desperate Housewives). And in the spring of 2012, the network will be rolling out two more shows with Latino stars: the gender-bending comedy, Work It (starring Puerto Rican actor, Amaury Nolasco), and GCB—a dramedy starring Mexican actress Marisol Nichols.
Altogether ABC will have eight Latinos in lead roles on the network this fall, and about six more Latinos in supporting roles. ABC isn't only casting more Latinos than any other network, but it's also doing a great job of casting Latinos in three dimensional roles that aren't Latino stereotypes. Sara Ramirez's character on Grey's Anatomy is Latina, but she's not playing a maid—she's an orthopedic surgeon. Benjamin Bratt is also playing a doctor on Private Practice, Jon Huertas is playing a respected detective on Castle, and as the evil queen in Once Upon A Time, Lana Parrilla is putting a Latina face on an iconic fairy-tale character that has been played, for decades, exclusively by White women.
ABC clearly knows that it makes cents to hire Latinos.
Final grade: A+