It may come as a surprise, but goth and latinidad go hand in hand. If I think back to my weird horror obsessed friends from my days at Hot Topic, we were all Mexican American. We loved The Crow, The Cure, and out-gothed many of the people who walked into the store. We were weird, and we embraced it. Recently, the musical group Prayers has pushed forth this aesthetic, extremely Chicano but extremely goth at the same time, cholo goth, giving this identity a name. As I pressed play on episode one of Los Espookys and the sad electronic music played for a spooky quinceañera complete with fake blood gags and eyeballs on the refreshment table I felt undeniably seen.
If you’ve ever hear director Guillermo del Toro talk about why he’s into the dark, weird, and horror-filled pieces of life he always credits his Mexican identity. He has spoken many times on his latinidad nurturing his love the macabre. For me, horror has been in my life since the first time my grandma used La Llorona to scare me and the first time I sprinted down the hallway to avoid the cucuy room. Now, for the first time, I’ve seen this love of horror and the strange represented on screen from a Latinx lens. Los Espookys, is the new primarily Spanish-language comedy on HBO, created by Julio Torres, Ana Fabrega and Fred Armisen, that takes the strange and weird love of horror in a group of friends and highlights the acceptance of the macabre in Latin American cultures.
Los Espookys follows a group of friends who turn their love for horror into a business. In an undisclosed Latin American country – which feels a lot like Mexico, given some of the Spanish slang, the use of portraits of the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe, and proximity to Los Angeles – the group of friends work at bringing horror to those who need it. While it may have started with just decorating a quince, as the title of episode one gives away, it ends with “El Exorcismo.”
The Los Espookys crew begins with Renaldo (Bernardo Velasco), a horror and gore enthusiast, who assembles his close friends after inspiring words from his Tío Tico (Fred Armisen). Renaldo is joined by Úrsula (Cassandra Ciangherotti), a dental assistant with a knack for prosthetics and who handles the execution of the horrors and her sister Tati (Ana Fabrega), who has multiple jobs that range from being the test dummy for Los Espookys’ projects to turning the Father’s fan in his orphanage and breaking in other people’s shows.
To round out the crew, we also have Renaldo’s longtime best friend, Andrés (Julio Torres). As the bright blue-haired heir to a chocolate empire he brings the truly weird with his stoic expression and honest remarks. Andrés also might even be an otherworldly being, every reason to make him the standout of this group as brings up his need for answers. He’s also the only visibly in a relationship, although his hot boyfriend isn’t everyone’s favorite person.
By the end of “El Exorcismo,” Los Espookys the show casts the crew as the monster makers that Mystery Inc. would find under the mask. These aren’t just friends who love horror, they’re friends with the skillset to bring it to life. This episode, the Los Espookys gang help Father Francesco (Luis Gnecco) stage an exorcism in order to take the spotlight from an other priest in the area.
To put it simply, the strange and the weird are common place in the country the show takes place in, like it is in many Latin American countries. Taking cues from popular Spanish-language “news” shows like Primer Impacto or Ocurrio Asi, which for my family made my grandma question the devilishness of Pokémon cards, the Los Espookys universe has its own show reporting and reinforcing the belief in the crew’s haunts: Mira Esto.
With a 30-minute runtime, Los Espookys is the perfect length. The dry humor and embracing of the weird has me ready for the rest of the season. With episode one ending with a call for their next job and the crew getting to see their work on Mira Esto, big things are gonna happen. With the goth electronic soundtrack beating in the background, Los Espookys perfectly highlights a Latinx experience that I have never seen on American television.
While the show takes place in Latin America, I keep using the Latinx to describe the experience given my own positionally as a Latina sees myself in the show, and sees my Mexican American communities in it as well. We’re not just kids in bad neighborhoods, although that is a part of a lot of our identities, we’re also the goths. We’re also the weirdos. While the age of the cast in this show puts them square in adulthood, this is a story that I see my younger self in, in addition to my life now.
Overall, this is a show that is perfect for any viewer who is in love with the weird, horror, and probably watched The Crow on repeat a few times. That being said it’s also great if you’re a fan of Armisen’s other comedic works as the dry humor and comedy is executed well and for a general audience as much as a Spanish-language one. Since the show is automatically subtitled in English with the English portions of the show subtitled in Spanish, it is accessible to audiences regardless of language.
Los Espookys airs Fridays at 10pm CT on HBO.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.