Netflix’s Gentefied is generally a happy show. As the Morales family realizes their rent is skyrocketing and their O.G. taco shop business plan isn’t enough to meet their new financial demands, they don’t buckle. After some inter-family hijinks, they rise to meet the occasion, giving us the kind of entrepreneurial turnaround that makes you pump your fist in joy. The season 1 finale, “Delfina” even features a birth, promising a brand-new, hopeful chapter for the Morales. As a cherry on top of the joy sundae, Morales cousin Erik (Fosters guest star J.J. Soria) names his newborn daughter after his beloved late grandmother, Delfina.
Everything feels like it’s coming up roses for Gentefied’s central family as “Delfina” comes to a close. Then, you get to the final scene: family rock Pop — aka Casimiro Morales (Joaquín Cosio) — arrested, handcuffed, and trapped in the back of an ICE van. All of a sudden, the question is: Will Pop be deported?
It’s a devastating finale question that is only made more upsetting when you take in the Gentefied cast’s insights on the season-ending chapter.
“Usually that, being deported, should be the first episode,” Carlos Santos, who plays begrudging hipster Morales cousin Chris, tells Refinery29 in Netflix’s L.A. offices. “You feel like you’ve seen it as the main entrance into a series. And then the show starts to chug along and you forget about it.”
The 10-episode season does do a great job of distracting viewers from Pop’s series premiere arrest, when he is jailed for urinating in front of a trendy new building in his Boyle Heights neighborhood and breaking a window. Once Erik pays Pop’s bail, you never see him pay a fine or go to court to defend his inebriated actions. There’s so much chaos brewing around the Moraleses — both when it comes to their family and their business — it’s easy to forget about the larger legal powers that be.
“They’re all busy, they’re all doing their own thing.” Santos continues. “That’s what’s so beautiful about Gentefied, there’s so many things to grab at that have nothing to do with [deportation].” His TV grandpa, Joaquín Cosio, agrees, adding in Spanish, “What goes on in Gentefied is a series of situations that are common in the life of a Hispanic or Latino person in the United States, in the big cities. But still, the writers tell those stories in a way that makes them feel fresh.”
It’s so fresh that no one realizes Pop may be in danger until long after they’ve been faced with their own gargantuan issues. Erik (J.J. Soria) has welcomed baby Delfina with his ambitious, wonderful girlfriend Lidia Solis (Annie Gonzalez). Chris’ terrible dad has finally offered him money to go to culinary school in Paris. Ana (Karrie Martin) has rejected the gentrification of her mural art — after accidentally learning a wealthy prospective patron has brought the Morales’ taco shop, Mama Fina’s.
It is only when the extended Morales family is taking in the intensity of the day while marveling at baby Delfina that they notice the absence of Pop — and realize something awful must have happened to keep him away. While the audience knows exactly where Pop is, his loved ones have no idea. They are just left with a sinking feeling in their stomachs.
“The exact feeling that happens at the hospital when we’re all just like crying, and it’s all for different reasons,” Ana’s portrayer Karrie Martin tells Refinery29. “I’m like, What the hell did I just do with my life? Erik’s like Oh my god, I just had a kid. But I think that emotion, in general, is so significant to what’s happening. It’s happiness and sadness.”
Or, as Chris Santos says about the finale’s terrible twist after the most hopeful moment possible, “Then at the end it comes and grabs you. It comes and bites you, and then blackout. You’re like, But I need a second season to know what happens!”