WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
On paper I don’t have a lot in widespread with the character of Miguel Rivas (Jon Huertas) on the drama This Is Us in addition to being Latinx and immigrating to the U.S. (though Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory). However on final night time’s episode I, an Argentine immigrant, felt seen and I noticed a narrative that we don’t usually get to see on mainstream tv. Whereas Miguel has been a secondary character for the six seasons of the present, this episode positioned the highlight on his story — that of an Afro Latino struggling to assimilate and to succeed when merely getting within the room is a problem. Miguel’s story was all of us final night time and it’s a testomony to genuine storytelling the place the small print communicate volumes and generally a single sentence carried a lot weight.
Within the scene the place he’s ready to be referred to as in for a job interview and says he’s “Mike Rivers” we’re questioning who this Mike man is till the tip of the interview. After getting the job — and confirming he speaks Spanish — he reveals to his white boss that his title is definitely Miguel Rivas and that he utilized with two completely different names with the identical resume however “solely Mike received a name again.” This scene speaks volumes to the truth of Latinxs and other people of shade who don’t even get contained in the room as a result of their title doesn’t mirror the established order. However it was additionally how the present follows his success and the way that creates his sense of self-worth as he struggles residing within the in-between. When he goes dwelling for the vacations and he shares along with his dad that he purchased a brand new automobile and gives to pay for assist for his sick aunt, he’s confronted along with his dad’s wrath.
“The man along with his slick hair, slick automobile, waving cash round,” his dad says including, “no te olivdies de donde vienes.” Miguel’s impassioned response was just like the rallying cry for the kids of immigrants who needed to regulate to a brand new lifestyle whereas always being informed to always remember the place they got here from.
You moved us right here… be taught English. Slot in. What was the purpose? You break up me in half if you moved us right here and now I’m lastly determining, and what? you need me to battle such as you? Why is it so exhausting so that you can watch me make one thing of myself on this place? On this place you introduced us to?
Assimilation is a continuing battle and what I appreciated is that it was introduced that manner versus as one thing to aspire to. When he brings wine to his household’s Christmas celebration solely to be informed that they’re ingesting coquito there’s a lot that isn’t mentioned. Being first technology means we’re uncovered to a brand new lifestyle however at dwelling the outdated methods prevail. Assimilation is what occurs outdoors the house however you must always remember the place you got here from — that’s the message. So it was additionally poetic to see him in his dwelling when he’s older and reconnecting with Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and he’s not winding down with a glass of wine, it’s coquito. These tiny particulars mirror our personal methods of making an attempt to maintain our tradition alive in on a regular basis life. For me, it’s ingesting boldo tea that I purchase from Mercado Buenos Aires, the identical place my dad purchased it from after we moved to the U.S. Even when our Spanish isn’t good and we’ve misplaced contact with the methods of life our dad and mom tried to boost us with, we battle erasure of our roots in these small however significant methods.
To see that being portrayed in a mainstream present that’s as fashionable as This Is Us, which has hundreds of thousands of viewers, gave us a glimpse of what our tales may appear like with the precise individuals telling them on reveals that aren’t particularly made for or by us. Huertas, who’s Puerto Rican, employees author Jonny Gomez, director Zetna Fuentes, and different Latinxs concerned within the sequence collaborated on this episode and the authenticity shines by means of. Huertas informed Deadline that similar to Miguel, he straightened his hair to keep away from getting bullied and within the present he justifies straightening it so he doesn’t appear like he simply arrived from San Juan. His story felt actual as a result of it was actual, a fictionalized rendering of the tales of everybody concerned within the making of it.
With reveals like Vida, Gentefied, and One Day at a Time, I noticed myself in these tales as effectively though they weren’t precisely mine. With Latinx writers telling these tales there was a lot there to narrate to trigger a lot of it had been their lived experiences. However they have been all short-lived, a results of our continued battle to be represented in Hollywood. That’s why “Miguel” is so highly effective and vital.
The episode is plagued by so many actual moments, massive and small, which can be too many to checklist right here however some price mentioning embrace when he’s listening to the radio making an attempt to be taught English (“America, the best land of all”) trigger leisure is how many people additionally realized and when his boss struggles to pronounce his title. Considered one of my favourite moments is when his dad responds to Miguel buying a brand new automobile with “You may’t afford to not afford a roof over your head” — we’re all raised with the concept that saving our cash is essential although monetary literacy is missing. It is a dialog we’ve all had with our dad and mom in some kind.
Within the begin of the episode we see him as a child accompanying his dad who’s working as a gardener for a white man. He sees Roberto Clemente on TV and the house owner is there watching and invitations him to look at and proceeds to inform him he ought to go see a sport and sit close to the pit trigger it’s one of the best place to be. Miguel responds in damaged English: “Solely wish to see a sport, irrespective of the place to sit down.” The person responds, “Son, the place you sit is all that issues.”
It was a profound lesson to be taught at such a younger age and one portrayed each actually and figuratively. We see all through the episode his want to seek out his place, a seat on the desk, and work his manner as much as obtain the American Dream however we additionally see him getting to a degree the place he can afford field seats to a sport solely to have his son reject his invitation.
Maybe one of the crucial emotional scenes was when he shares how he was devoted to caring for Rebecca as her well being declines as she’s the individual that felt like dwelling when he all the time felt like he by no means belonged. We noticed his journey towards discovering love and acceptance and ultimately, the writers take us again to what his mother taught him about love after spending nearly all her life caring for her ailing sister: “Love is giving your coronary heart with out expectation.”
We see this full circle second of a person who felt misplaced and at last finds his manner and when his ashes are buried in each the baseball discipline he performed at along with his dad and the apple tree he planted with Rebecca, we noticed this lovely ode to a life within the in-between. As somebody whose dad’s ashes are each in Argentina and California, it’s a therapeutic second to lastly really feel like your beloved could be in each locations without delay once they’ve lived in between each for therefore lengthy. That scene was all the things.
I hope that is only the start of extra tales like this, for us and by us, as a result of we’re worthy and have a lot to share.