Law & Order: SCU Special Cuban Unit


By Maria Lopez-Knowles (CMO, Pulpo Media)

I’m a huge fan of Law and Order: SVU. Discovered it a little over a year ago, when binge watching the series helped me process my late husband’s untimely death from brain cancer. Maybe it has to do with how some of the shows end without any sort of closure – leaving us with more questions than answers, and the reminder that life isn’t fair, nor is justice always secured…but that’s another story.

Over the last year, I’ve realized that the show has two Cuban-American stars: Danny Pino and Raul Esparza (I know, I’m late to the game). It wasn’t readily apparent until they started speaking Spanish (no one can deny a Cuban accent). And the dialog in episodes I’ve seen (in no chronological order) reference their Cuban roots.

Why does it matter?

In my profession, I speak a lot about not only reaching but also affectively touching bilingual/bicultural Hispanics in advertising. It validates them. Makes them feel part of the society at large. When it’s done with taste and authenticity, is when the attachment or engagement and loyalty, actually occurs. This reality is easily translated to all creative content, including TV shows and film. This show gets it right.

First: In this series, we aren’t depicted as lower class, uneducated, or speaking with a thick accent. We are educated, middle class, and fluent in both English and Spanish. We are hybrids and live a duality that few outside of our existence, can truly discern.

Second: We struggle with the conflicting ethoi of being American and self-reliant, AND being Hispanic and collective by nature. Last night’s episode showed this conflict beautifully, with Detective Amaro having to choose between being loyal to his family vs. loyal to himself. A significant struggle that all Hispanic biculturals face.

Third: We do speak English primarily, but pepper it with Spanish when speaking to similar family member and friends. It’s our way of hyper-connecting with them, and is more intimate.

I get asked a lot about who gets the cultural and linguistic ‘winks’ right in advertising, and in a recent conference, about who gets it right in film and television. What do the characters have to do? What do they look like? How is it built into a story-line if you want to attract a bicultural viewer?

Law & Order SVU gets it right in my book.

Last night’s episode even referenced the fact that ‘in one generation Cubans become lawyers, doctors, CEOs but the news that people hear is about the nightclub brawl that the Cubans are involved in’. Another reality.

Cheers to positive Hispanic role models. Keep up the great job guys! You have a loyal fan who is also an advocate. Mil gracias.


Categories: NGL News