REVIEW: ‘Gentefied’ Shows the Complexity of Family

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Gentefied Season 2 - But Why Tho

Gentefied is a home for me. It reminds me about my welos and my city, it reminds me of our resilience and our humor, and our love. It’s a Mexican-American story that grows in its second season by showcasing the weight that we carry when we know someone in our family is undocumented, the systemic abuse and racism that hurts our communities, and it does so in a way that feels authentic. There is love in the Morales family’s conversations, and pain, and guilt, and even resentment. All of that takes center stage in Gentefied Season 2. While the first season of the series was more comedic, this season gets deeper, delving  into the pain that parents carry and project on their children, all while unifying the Morales clan

In Gentefied Season 1the Morales family is doing whatever they can to get by and keep their family’s taco shop. What feels like what will be the melodramatic saving grace in the last episode of the season comes crashing down. The family patriarch is detained and threatened with deportation and the fate of the shop that his grandkids have been fighting to keep is in the air. That’s what makes the start of Gentefied Season 2 so bittersweet and real. The family is reunited after Pop (Joaquín Cosio) spent three months in a detention center, but instead of a triumphant homecoming, there isn’t a happy resolution.

While Pop was detained, the shop lost its lease. With a court date 6 months away, the future is uncertain for the Morales family, and with Chris (Carlos Santos) potentially leaving the country for his career, Erik (Joseph Julian Soria) moving with Lidia to Palo Alto to start their family, and Ana (Karrie Martin) is struggling with her family in an apartment where a landlord has turned off the water. This uncertainty is where Gentefied Season 2 finds its power. In eight episodes, the season artfully showcases the multitude of experiences that can happen to one Mexican-American family.

There are two threads that Gentefied Season 2 holds onto as its narrative develops. The first is outlining what we sacrifice for our family and how those sacrifices impact those around us for generations. The second is how we grow thanks to our families, but also what happens when that growth leads us away from them. While Pop’s impending trial to fight deportation is a focus this season, it isn’t the only story that Gentefied looks to tell. Yes, the way this storyline establishes the humanity and identity of undocumented people in their communities, it doesn’t beg for it, instead, it contextualizes it within the Morales family for a larger narrative.

The sacrifice starts with Pop. He chose to leave his home in order to build a new life for his family. And the sacrifices continued every day as he tried to both provide for his family and love them the only way he knew how even if that meant he pushed them thinking he could protect them from his pain. That sacrifice continued in a different way with Chris’s dad sacrificing his familial connections to give his son the life he thought he needed to succeed. And while Erik, Chris, and Ana are all making their own sacrifices, the question that comes up is how much is too much of yourself to give away for the family?

It’s from this conflict, that we see the Morales family grow, with episodes dedicated to each of their journeies in the first half of the season, the last half of Gentefied Season 2 empowers the Morales family. The series empowers the characters to make choices for themselves, that any person in a Mexican family or an immigrant family can understand. In families like ours, you live for your family, you give things up for them, and through the generations, it takes someone to break the cycle. Gentefied is about family, about its resiliency, and about the pain, it can cause. More importantly, it showcases the many experiences that can happen just in one Mexican-American Family.

Pops is facing deportation. Ana is succeeding and selling her art to a large company but lives in an apartment with no water. Erik is adjusting to culture shock in Palo Alto with Lidia (Annie Gonzalez) using her PhD at Stanford, he’s a stay-at-home dad in an area that would call the cops on him if he forgets his keys. Erik is trying to find himself, shouldering the immense pressure to succeed from his father. And all of them are identities that we can find ourselves in and some that we don’t often see in series focused on Mexican-American and/or Latinx perspectives.

Gentefied Season 2 explores the ways in which we grow and thrive and the ways that our family helps and hinders. And it all feels real. The Morales family feels like my family, the fights and the love. The apologies and the stubbornness. The joy and the deep pain that spans generations. It’s all there. Anf it all happens in a script that embraces Spanglish to a level that other series don’t. Gentefied is bilingual. Pops speaks in Spanish and the grandchildren answer in English. Words are thrown in that sometimes you just can’t say in English. And every moment feels like the way the people in my community talk, existing in two spaces at one time—both American and Mexican.

Overall, Gentefied Season 2 hits my heart. It feels like home and eight episodes feels way too short. As a series, Gentefied has aimed to be a story that isn’t about melodrama and violence, but one about a Mexican-American family that is living. They cry, yell, and they hold each other close. It’s a lot all at one time and somehow, there could have been even more, especially for characters like Lidia and Yessica (Julissa Calderon). While we don’t know about the future, the way Gentefied Season 2 ends, feels like closure. There isn’t anything left hanging and ultimately the Morales family has grown beyond who they were in the first season both as a unit and as individuals. I said it in my review last season, and I’ll say it again now: Gentefied feels like home.

Gentefied is streaming now, exclusively on Netflix.


Gentefied Season 2
  • 10/10
    Gentefied Season 2 - 10/10
10/10

TL:DR

Overall, Gentefied Season 2 hits my heart. It feels like home and eight episodes feels way too short. As a series, Gentefied has aimed to be a story that isn’t about melodrama and violence, but one about a Mexican-American family that is living. They cry, yell, and they hold each other close. It’s a lot all at one time and somehow, there could have been even more, especially for characters like Lidia and Yessica (Julissa Calderon). While we don’t know about the future, the way Gentefied Season 2 ends, feels like closure. There isn’t anything left hanging and ultimately the Morales family has grown beyond who they were in the first season both as a unit and as individuals. I said it in my review last season, and I’ll say it again now: Gentefied feels like home.