May 11, 2015

Papa soltero: Telemundo Teens on the Beach

When cable became common in the 1980s, the number of stations available increased from 3-4 to hundreds,  and Boomer kids from small towns in the Midwest got Telemundo, and heard Spanish spoken for the first time (outside of the classroom and the PBS series Que Pasa, USA?)

I didn't like the telenovelas and Sabado Gigante, which looked like a circus sideshow, but I liked some of the movies (Santo the Vampire Fighter, La gran aventura), and Papa Soltero (1987-1993), a sitcom starring Cesar Costa as "Cesar," a single Dad who works as a tv producer and lives an upscale Mexico City apartment.

In Spanish class, all you ever heard about Mexico was adobe pueblos full of people wearing sombreros and sarapes, and maybe the Mexican Revolution of Los de Abajo, so just the premise was exciting.

It was like a Spanish version of Hey, Dad...! Cesar was divorced, and saw his kids only during the summer.  Then his ex-wife died, and Cesar got saddled with them full-time: college-aged Alejandra (Edith Marquez), teenage Miguel (21-year old Gerardo Quiroz), and precocious preteen Cesarin (his real-life brother, 13-year old Luis Mario Quiroz).  By the way, that's not a flower in his hair, it's the station logo.

What was the gay connection?

1. A ton of beefcake.  The family appeared for breakfast wearing bathrobes; they slept in their underwear; they bathed, hung out in locker rooms, went to the beach in speedos.  They had muscular friends who were allergic to shirts. By the time the series ended, even "little" Cesarin was a 19 year old hunk, with biceps and a penchant for speedos.

2. A minimum of heterosexual hijinks.  American sitcoms are obsessed with making their teenage boys as girl-crazy as possible, but Cesar spent far more time dating and romancing than either Miguel or Cesarin.

3.After Papa Soltero, Luis Quiroz played gay roles on telenovelas and is reputedly gay in real life.

See also: Que Pasa, USA?

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