(CBS Local)– Marvin Lemus and Linda Yvette Chavez have been working for five years to tell an authentic story about Mexican-American identity and East Los Angeles.
Netflix’s new series “Gentefied” follows a Mexican-American family in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles as they chase the American dream. Lemus and Chavez wanted the show to make people laugh and cry and to help them understand what it’s like to live between two worlds.READ MORE: Pasadena's Lucky Boy Burgers Sues Postmates Alleging Unfair Business Practices
“There’s a lot of issues that we tackled, but it always boiled down to community vs. self,” said Lemus in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “We are dealing with identity and class. Community is your neighborhood or your family or your friends. The thing we were struggling with was as we’re chasing the American dream, we are following the path that our parents set out for us and sacrificed everything for and constantly reminded us about and guilt-tripped us about. As we do that, we distance ourselves from our culture. We have to figure out if we can have it all and that’a core theme we are exploring.”
“The community of Boyle Heights, which is so passionate about protecting its identity as a community, was such a metaphor for things we were both experiencing around trying to preserve who we are as people living between these two borders,” said Chavez. “We wanted to humanize this and show characters struggling in this grey area. We tried to play in that space with this show. We never judged the characters.READ MORE: Lynne Thompson Announced As 2021 Los Angeles Poet Laureate
The series is streaming now on Netflix and the creators were fascinated with Los Angeles as a back drop for Mexican-Americans.
“My brother the other day said I was watching the show and he said sis this must be how white people feel,” said Chavez. “I didn’t even think about that fully. My mom watched the show and she said whoever made this didn’t have any shame about their culture. We can’t be poor or really Mexican. We have to toe the line between just acceptable enough to white audiences. She said this is the first time I watched something and there was no shame. She connected to that really hard. We write from a place of love. We wanted to depict East LA and Boyle Heights in a way that was beautiful.”MORE NEWS: Mayor Eric Garcetti Urges Property Owners To Sign Up For City's New Program
“It’s home away from home for immigrants,” said Lemus. “Thinking historically, you were redlined into this community that you couldn’t leave and you couldn’t get loans approved to live anywhere else. Then you make it work for yourself and you make it home and make it beautiful and then you start to get displaced because it’s cool and trendy. There’s that line in the first episode where we say they may love our stuff, but they don’t love us. That’s where so much of it stems from. Boyle Heights is the first time I went somewhere and felt all of me was seen. I had never experienced that before. We wanted to show the LA that we know and we love.”