Latino sitcom ‘Rob’ – The only laughter comes canned

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In Rob Schneider’s weekly Latino family sitcom ROB, which debuted this month, Latina beauty Maggie, played by Claudia Bassols, marries an Anglo landscape architect, played by Rob Schneider. They visit her Mexican-American family to inform them about their Las Vegas elopement, and that’s when the program becomes an insult to all things Mexican.

The dialogue slithers from one inane remark to another and is laced with racial slurs. The whole show is heavy with innuendos. It’s not very clear what audience ROB is intended for. Definitely not for a mature one.

Actor Rob Schneider as the single Rob and Spanish Actress Claudia Bassols as Maggie. (Photo/ Sonja Flemmings/CBS)

Nor is it proper for children. The bad choice of “comedy” includes tasteless jokes on immigration. There is a bedroom scene where Rob appears to be having sex with the abuelita, played by Lupe Ontiveros. Then the family barges in and the embarrassing scene is discovered.

All this time the audience is subjected to the clumsy use of canned laughter.

Maggie’s mother Rosa, played by Diana María Riva, and father Fernando, played by Cheech Marín, pass it over like it’s a normal occurrence. And if this isn’t enough, in a subsequent scene abuelita tries to flirt with Rob. Héctor the uncle is played by Eugenio Derbez. He is devious, has a thick accent and is definitely greasy looking.

I don’t know how CBS allowed this new sitcom to slip through its net. Shown in prime time on a weekday when viewers of all ages are watching television, it is insulting. Crude. Vulgar.

Why is it that when shows about Mexican families are aired on prime time television, the characters are portrayed as ignorant and lecherous? One might assume that this is the only way that non-Latino viewers will accept them.

More difficult to understand is how this Latino cast, especially Mr. Derbez, whose mother was a highly respected actress in Mexico, would stoop so low as to portray these characters. No self-pride here at all.

It reminded me of a song popular many years ago — “Drinking Rum and Coca-Cola” (In ROB it was sangria) “working for the Yankee dollar.” Money will do that to a person. We should have outgrown shows like these. It would seem that we would have progressed past these artificial displays of sick comedy.

The fault belongs to the writers and the sponsoring networks, but mostly it can be attributed to the actors who in their greed for money and primetime exposure would allow themselves to become a part of such a sordid and distorted program.

Hopefully CBS will come to its senses and cancel this giant ethnic slur.

Hispanic Link News Service

(EDITOR’S NOTE: More than a quarter century has passed since Norman Lear assembled a talented Latino cast to introduce the Latino sitcom AKA Pablo to this nation’s television audience. Now Rob Schneider has brought an equally illustrious Latino cast together in Rob, which made its debut on CBS Jan. 12. Two Hispanic Link columnists, Elisa Martínez of El Paso, and Maribeth Bandas of San Diego, take differing approaches in critiquing it.)

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