What Lopez vs. Lopez Gets Right & Wrong About The Harms of Toxic Latino Masculinity

Latines love entertainment. For years, we have been the top moviegoers — even though the films we watch rarely reflect our communities. While we represent 19% of the U.S. population, we make up only 4.6% of movie roles and 5.3% of TV roles. When we do see ourselves on the big or small screen, we are often playing one-dimensional characters or are cast in films riddled with stereotypes, tropes, and stories that fail to represent the totality of who we are. So we decided to hold Hollywood accountable. Welcome to La Nota, a column where we measure the (mis)representation of Latines in film and TV and grade projects against a Somos test that looks at gender, race, language, and more. This month, we’re grading the NBC series “Lopez vs Lopez.”
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Mayan Lopez opens NBC’s “Lopez vs Lopez” with a personal and somewhat taboo statement in Latine communities: via a TikTok video, Mayan reveals she has “daddy issues” because her father, George Lopez, wasn’t very present in her life. The message comes across as less dramatic — and more humorous — when Mayan twerks upside down while leaning against the wall. Still, it’s a pretty shocking statement to make within a culture that doesn’t always talk about the harm men cause in their families
“I’m trying to relate to other women who have daddy issues,” Mayan declares to her father on the show. 
Surprisingly enough, the opening of “Lopez vs Lopez” is adapted from a real TikTok that Mayan posted in 2020 during the pandemic, when she and her father — yes, the George Lopez IRL — began to heal their relationship after years of estrangement. This is, officially, the first TV show that has been directly adapted from TikTok content, according to Variety. In an interview with the publication, Mayan spoke frankly about her trauma with regards to having an absent father and sharing her wounds in good humor on the Internet. 

"It’s a pretty shocking statement to make within a culture that doesn’t always talk about the harm men cause in their families." 

nicole froio
“My mom was still trying to fix his hair,” she told the outlet. “I randomly put my phone up and put it on TikTok, and we got 60 million views overnight. I was like, ‘Huh, I think I have something here, airing out my dirty laundry for entertainment!’” 
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And George can’t really say anything about it: at the end of the day, Mayan is speaking her truth.
Mayan’s frank approach to how George treated their relationship is probably appealing to a lot of Latina women who grew up watching “The George Lopez Show,” which aired from 2002 to 2007 on ABC. However, it’s somewhat ironic that George was playing the role of a present father who helped his kids navigate U.S. culture as Latine people, when Mayan seemingly didn’t get to experience that fatherly presence in real life. 
Even so, when “The George Lopez Show” dropped 20 years ago, it was groundbreaking just by existing: It featured an exclusively Latine cast — a rare occurrence even by today’s representation standards — who examined and pushed back against Latine stereotypes. The series helped to advocate for the inclusion of different cultures into the U.S. sitcom scene.

"It was strange and slightly out-of-touch to be tackling a decades-long complicated relationship via a medium where conflict must be resolved in a 25-minute episode." 

NICOLE FROIO
“Lopez vs Lopez” tries to bridge the gap between older and younger Latine generations. In the show, Mayan has gone to therapy to deal with her generational trauma, so she welcomes her father into her home after he loses his house and his business is going under. Of course, Mayan and George start clashing right away; Mayan is a true Gen Zer who has done self-work and accomplished her version 0f the American dream, which is to have a family, a career, and healthy relationships. Meanwhile, George represents the broken masculinity, stubbornness, and lack of vulnerability that some Latino fathers can possess.
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In an interview with Somos, Mayan said that working on the show has been “incredibly healing,” though she added that “healing isn’t always linear.” Admittedly, this premise is somewhat constrained by the sitcom format of the show. While watching the two episodes that are currently available for advance reviewing, it was strange and slightly out-of-touch to be tackling a decades-long complicated relationship via a medium where conflict must be resolved in a 25-minute episode. 
George and Mayan are funny, and they have undeniable chemistry. But this sitcom certainly raises the question of whether the harms of broken Latino masculinity can be repaired through comedy. Joking about trauma can be seen as a kind of deflection. When these very raw and real wounds are tackled through jokes and punchlines in the show, it feels uncomfortable rather than endearing.

"George and Mayan are funny, and they have undeniable chemistry. But this sitcom certainly raises the question of whether the harms of broken Latino masculinity can be repaired through comedy. Joking about trauma can be seen as a kind of deflection."

NICOLE FROIO
Though the format of the show gave me pause, “Lopez vs Lopez” still manages to depict moments of sweetness, forgiveness, and mutual understanding between father and daughter. These are a much-needed balm for Latine families whose fathers struggle with vulnerability. Despite the canned laughter, which somewhat dampens the central theme of generational trauma, it’s still lovely to see how George starts listening to his daughter and how Mayan starts listening to her father. They meet in the middle, modeling a heartening demonstration of intergenerational understanding that is essential to Latine communities. 
In the pilot, after regretting an argument with his daughter, George posts an apology TikTok video. That moment on its own was a little surreal and funny because most Latino dads don’t really apologize — let alone on TikTok while twerking. Surprised, Mayan says, in awe: “He swallowed his pride and was honest!” 
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Scenes such as this one — where Mayan is frank about what she wants from her dad as a daughter — are where the best parts of the show shine through. After all, how many of us have been that Latina woman who wishes their father would apologize when they are wrong? 

"It’s still lovely to see how George starts listening to his daughter and how Mayan starts listening to her father. They meet in the middle, modeling a heartening demonstration of intergenerational understanding that is essential to Latine communities." 

NICOLE FROIO
In this sense, “Lopez vs. Lopez” could grow into an iconic Latine show about a father and a daughter healing their relationship. Mayan’s involvement and centrality to the show speaks to an audience that is rarely catered to in American TV: Latina women with unresolved parental trauma. While we have limited information about the writers of the show — IMDB lists George, Mayan, and Debby Wolfe as creators of the show and writers of the first two episodes — Mayan’s involvement in the production certainly stands out with regards to gender.  
If we look back at how “The George Lopez Show” was all about George’s struggles with his fictional mother — a stand-in for the comedian’s grandmother who raised him in a loveless home, according to his own autobiography — it rarely dug deep into the harms George might have caused as a Latino father. This simply wasn’t a topic that was up for discussion back then, and today, it rarely is either. Mayan’s brutally honest approach to her own experience brings a breath of fresh air to this new series. I hope this continues to be true throughout the rest of the season.

Gender & Sexuality: C 

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Mayan is one of the main characters and she isn’t shy about her father’s shortcomings and the harm he caused. It’s nice to see a Latina daughter speak out and be heard, and it seems that Mayan had a lot of creative input in the show. However, there are no sexually or gender diverse characters.

Regional Diversity: D

Characters aren’t forthcoming about the countries they are originally from, so it feels like this show works from the premise of an umbrella Latine identity. This isn’t any different from “The George Lopez Show,” and nothing in the episodes I reviewed indicate they will delve deeper into these issues.

Language: D 

While the accents are authentic, some of the transitions between English and Spanish feel somewhat forced. Instead of sounding like a natural transition, it feels like the transitions into Spanish are meant as punchlines rather than cultural markers. 

Race: C 

I was pleased to see Selenis Leyva playing the role of Mayan’s mother Rosie, which signals the inclusion of Afro-Latina identity. I hope to see Leyva be uplifted in this role in future episodes, and that there’s some space given to her cultural heritage and backstory. 

Stereotypes & Tropes: B

“Lopez vs Lopez” tries to reform the deadbeat dad stereotype by introducing vulnerability and understanding to masculinity, rather than stereotyping Latino men as inherently lacking in fatherhood. Also, the women are not depicted stereotypically. I appreciate that Mayan is a veterinarian tech who has her own narratives, and she isn’t depicting Latina women as inherently loud or passionate.

Was it Actually Good? D

It was fine, nothing more than that — though keep in mind, I only had access to two episodes.
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