We’re headed back to Boyle Heights as Netflix’s half-hour dramedy Gentefied arrives on November 10. I was lucky enough to watch the second season and–spoiler alert–I enjoyed it. The series was renewed for an 8-episode second season three months after premiering on the streaming service. America Ferrera returns to the director’s chair. The first season ended with major cliffhangers, the most important one being Pop’s (The Suicide Squad’s Joaquín Cosío) future. ICE detains him during the episode’s final moments.
Gentefied still centers Latinx narratives in Boyle Heights: the working-class, predominantly Mexican neighborhood east of downtown Los Angeles. It also dives into deep-rooted beliefs that we sometimes hold as a community. We know from season one that Ana (Karrie Martin) has a significant social media following. Pop feels embarrassed that she is using it to bring awareness to his case. Even though he is proud of his family and everything he’s accomplished, there is a shame that comes with being undocumented. We don’t acknowledge this often. Younger generations are less afraid and more outspoken, it’s still something that many of our elders suffer from in silence. We boast about pride and how no human being is illegal. This season actually touches on the complicated feelings that arise when you’re being kicked out of the only country you and your family call home.
Our main characters are still struggling with many of the same issues as last season. Chris (Carlos Santos) is trying to find himself and what it means to be a Mexican-American from Boyle Heights raised in Idaho. His father Ernesto (Manuel Uriza) has a larger role this season. We are introduced to Saraí (Ivana Rojas)- a strong-willed, food-truck-owning Latina that dreams of a brick-and-mortar shop like Mama Fina’s. Last season, we also saw Erik (J.J. Soria) and Lidia (Annie Gonzalez) dealing with their relationship and the birth of their baby Delfina. Now we can watch them navigate parenthood, generational trauma, and life away from Boyle Heights. Lidia has a significantly larger role this season. She is given the space to explore how unconscious bias affects everyone. Even if you yourself belong to a marginalized community.
Ana (Martin) is mending her broken heart after her split with long-time girlfriend Yessika (Julissa Calderón). TYessika’s cold behavior encourages Ana to seek comfort in someone new. She feels especially betrayed that Yessika called her a “sell-out” during the argument that led to their split. She has to confront that discomfort when she is offered a job with Nike. As for the heart of the story, Pop is fighting to stay in the United States. He’s also fighting to save the taco shop from gentrifiers.
We embark on this journey with him and his immigration attorney Melinna Barragan (Melinna Bobadilla). Melinna also enlists the help of Pop’s girlfriend Lupe. Pop’s and Lupe romance is also explored a bit further, and I personally found this appealing. It felt genuine. It was also a realistic portrayal of how we sometimes have to divulge the most intimate aspects of our lives to be humanized.
Gentefied has never shied away from challenging topics. I particularly enjoyed about this season was how it addressed the roles we sometimes play in oppressing our own communities. We have Vivian Castro, a white woman who claims her quarter-Mexican heritage, not to be labeled a gentrifier. We also have immigration law enforcement — both the ICE agent and the judge assigned to Pop’s case are Latino, which might seem far-fetched, but in reality Latinx people make up 30% of ICE officers as well as 50% of Border Patrol agents.
Overall, I found Gentefied to be a heartwarming series. The likeability of our protagonists drives most of the story forward. My one gripe with this kind of Netflix show is that sometimes they feel like a very long movie, but since the series is so character-driven, the format works in its favor. We are given more time to get to know Yessika, Lidia, Lupe, and even the new characters, while also keeping the story simple. It works, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for the Morales family.
For more from Bea check out her thoughts on the Star Wars Prequels here!