HBO Max’s ‘Gordita Chronicles’ TV review – The Hollywood Reporter

Gordita Chronicles set in mid-80s Miami, but not a place that looks like mid-’80s Miami as it actually is. Instead, it’s a supercharged version of mid-’80s Miami as it might be imagined by someone looking back decades into the future – all the neon colors, graphic shapes and permed hair. . Which seems to fit the condition it’s being reported on, Wonder Years-style, by Dascha Polanco as an older, never-before-seen version of the lead.

The show’s nostalgic joy extends to the same healthy, fun tone as any family sitcom you may have grown up watching. (In particular, it reminds me of my mind Fresh Off the Boat, which also focuses on a family dealing with a cultural conflict.) And its plot, which tends to unfold in languid rhythms, captures tried-and-true themes. What makes the film pleasantly familiar instead of stale is the winning cast – played by Olivia Goncalves as 12-year-old Cucu – and the sunny warmth between them.

Gordita Chronicles

Key point

A charming person with a big heart.

Release date: Thursday, June 23 (HBO Max)
Cast: Olivia Goncalves, Diana Maria Riva, Juan Javier Cardenas, Savannah Nicole Ruiz, Noah Rico, Cosette Hauer, Dascha Polanco
Creator: Claudia Forestieri

When we first met the Castelli family at their outing in Santo Domingo, they were all too familiar with the allure of the American dream. Victor’s father (Juan Javier Cardenas), a marketing executive, is babbling over American advertising slogans with starry admiration; Mom Adela (Diana Maria Riva) is bragging to her friends about the beautiful pool she only knew they would have. “It was a time when America was soaring above Burger King and The King of Pop,” recalls the elder Cucu, in one of the Gordita ChroniclesPlays playful but slightly overwhelming phrases.

Inevitably, reality proves to be less flashy. When Victor’s wages came in less than expected, and the family’s bills rose higher, Castellis eventually settled into a cozy apartment on the lower middle part of town. Sister Emilia (Savannah Nicole Ruiz) delivers an all-American teen experience like fish meets water, attracts a cute boy, and joins Bubblegums – middle school’s most popular girl group – within days . Cucu, who was part of the team in the Dominican Republic, will take longer to find her niche in the US.

In terms of finding its place, Gordita Chronicles move at Cucu’s speed more than Emilia’s. The premiere is interesting enough, but too bogged down by the presentation to provide more than a vague sense of who these characters will become. Meanwhile, volume two inadvertently emphasizes the limitations of one’s own creative choices. This part mostly revolves around Cucu’s struggles with English, which is certainly a concern that concerns many new immigrants – but the odd thing comes up on a show chosen for Castellis to speak to. each other in perfect English, with no Spanish subtitles.

If anything, the strongest impression left in the early chapters is of America itself, as seen through the eyes of Castellis. Victor has bought the country’s can-do spirit enough to parrot spells like “Jump, and the net will appear” to his family, and his daughters are horrified by the the classmate looks like the boys in Tiger Beat. At the same time, they quickly become familiar with the country’s unappealing qualities: Cucu’s ESL plot, for example, is steeped in legitimate anger over the current law (which was repealed in 2004). 1993) prohibits the use of any language except English in schools. Later chapters deal with weird but fun American customs like Halloween, and less fun customs like the narrow beauty standard.

Gordita Chronicles‘The truest strength lies not in the social commentary but in its heart. Cardenas and Riva are so endearing as a couple whose feelings for each other are stronger than their differences – he’s the mild-mannered optimist, she’s the stubborn realist and more skeptical. And Goncalves was never more interesting than when she needed Ruiz, in the way of annoying siblings everywhere. Who but a sister might overlook when opening a request for dating advice with, “Boys keep losing interest in you. What’s your secret?”

In the middle of the tenth episode, the simple joy of spending time with family seems like reason enough to keep coming back – hoping for a second season, since the first season ended with a melodrama romantic.

The show still has a bit of work to do when it comes to finding its own distinctive voice; although Cucu talks about forging his own path, breaking free from the expectations of both American and Dominican cultures, the series hasn’t had any really fresh notes yet. But like its heroine, Gordita Chronicles shows the potential to grow into something special – and like its heroine, it’s sweet enough to keep us patient as we make our way there.

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