This show really surprised me. It's funny, sad, heartbreaking, hip, beautiful, but always very powerful and never something that shoves you away or keeps you at a distance. The show is immediately endearing and you fall in love with the characters. It hardly seemed like TV to me as much as it seemed like another one of PBS' experiments in television, which, ultimately, it turned out to be (had a very short hiatus, came back for a short second season and finished off. Leaving me wondering if it was even a real "series"). Something akin to film, but with more storytelling power, a lot of confidence in it's purpose, and a sometimes subtle, sometimes strong poli-social message, sometimes a satirical and humerous look at family and/or Mexican-American life, but always celebrating the culture and ties of this family, the Gonzales', and always entertaining.
The show boasted a powerful cast of actors: Sonia Braga as Berta, who dies in the first episode but is a crucial part of the series and comes back in flashbacks and memories and influences the physical and emotional journeys of her family (all of whom go through a revelation and transformation in the course of the show). Edward James Olmos as Jess, who is a dysfunctional yet loving father. Esai Morales as the long suffering son Esteban; Raquel Welch as the always humerous Diva of an aunt; and the list goes on and on and on (this show has a LARGE cast) with cameos and a solid plethora of extremely talented character actors.
The atmosphere of the show is incredibly colorful. Filmed in East LA on High definition digital, the show has a very energetic and passionate feel to it, and the art design helps along.
But best of all is the incredibly powerful and very creative writing and execution. Lucky for buyers of this DVD, in my opinion at least, the first season contains the best episodes (the second season was very short, though it included some zingers of episodes).
This show has enormous potential as a college classroom tool for social studies; as entertainment, as a urgent social message, as deep powerful art, as what TV can and should be.