If you’ve been on Twitter at around 9:15 p.m. ET on Sunday these last few weeks, you know Succession reigns supreme. The comments about Shiv Roy’s (Sarah Snook) turtlenecks alone could fill a college textbook. Jesse Armstrong’s pitch-black family comedy is the latest hour-long HBO series to dominate the Sunday night TV conversation this year, following in the footsteps of Big Little Lies and the final run of Game of Thrones.
However, if you tilt your head just a little bit away from the buzzy dazzle of HBO’s hallowed Sunday night, you’ll find a different show worth your while: Los Espookys, the network’s six-episode Friday night comedy about horror fanatics in Mexico. As Latinx Heritage Month comes to a close, no series deserves your attention — and eyeballs — more than this weird little hidden gem, which wrapped its first season in July.
The comedy comes from the minds of Saturday Night Live alum Fred Armisen, Saturday Night Live writer Julio Torres, and At Home with Amy Sedaris performer Ana Fabrega. All three writer/actors are Latinx; Armisen’s mother is from Venezuela, Torres is Salvadoran, and Fabrega’s family is from Panama. Out of reverence for that shared heritage, the entire series is filmed in Spanish and comes equipped with English subtitles. When someone is speaking English, Spanish subtitles pop up to remind you Espookys is relentlessly bilingual.
“It felt like a thing that we hadn’t verbalized, but we assumed from the beginning,” Torres told Vulture ahead of his premium cable comedy's season 1 finale. “Of course when the Americans speak, they’ve got to be subtitled too. It’s not an American show pretending to be a Latin American show. It’s both.”
Los Espookys’ Spanish-first ethos is an important decision to remind you this is an unapologetically Latinx series, made and distributed for a much wider audience. The show’s dedication to Spanish isn’t a fence to keep those outside of the Latinx community in the cold. It’s a reminder that our stories are for everyone — that’s why they’re airing on the biggest network in television.
If you can accept that fact, you’ll find a treasure trove of bizarro teats waiting for you. Los Espookys follows four friends: purist Renaldo (Bernardo Velasco), hustler Tati (Fabrega), pragmatist Úrsula (Cassandra Ciangherotti), and príncipe de chocolate Andrés (Torres). Dissatisfied with nearly everything, the foursome decides to lean into their passion for horror and make it a business. The group isn’t merely a pack of makeup artists or movie set designers, though. They embrace the spectacle of horror and all the ways it can manipulate unsuspecting individuals.
People give up multimillion-dollar fortunes, book beachside vacations, and approve massive government-funded research — all because of the work the Espookys put in. They make sea monsters and fake exorcisms look easy. The crew's ability to casually craft such massive schemes is truly something to behold.
Los Espookys is almost painfully funny. There are three running gags that are so delightful, no one should spoil them for you. However, it’s perfectly fine to tease them. The first involves a blue parasite demon named Water's Shadow and 2010 Oscar-winner The King’s Speech. The second is powered by a cartoon prince, many delusional dating comments, and a flapper dress. The last features beloved Search Party actor John Early as a knife-wielding pyramid scheme CEO.
Those are all jokes you deserve to experience — and we haven’t even touched a personal favorite episode, “El Espejo Maldito.” Only Torres, Fabrega, and Armisen could make evil mirrors extremely surreal and extremely funny.
Now that Los Espookys is officially renewed for its second season, it's time to give this show the Succession treatment. No one should rest until #WatersShadow is trending in 2020.
Being Latinx in America is no easy thing. Fighting pressures to abandon our culture, traditions, and heritage, we’re carving out a unique identity in America that’s all our own. In a series of essays, reported articles, and stories for Refinery29's #SomosLatinx, we’ll explore the unique issues that affect the community during Latinx Heritage Month from September 15-October 15.