Title Card - Party of Five

“Party of Five” hones in on the immigration crisis and reminds you of the damage separating families will have and may bring you to tears.

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With “Party of Five” honing in on the immigration crisis and giving it a face, it reminds you of the damage separating families will have and may bring you to tears.

Created By Amy Lippman, Christopher Keyser
Directed By Rodrigo Garcia
Written By Amy Lippman, Christopher Keyser, Michal Zebede
Aired (Hulu – On Demand | FreeForm) 1/1/2020
Genre(s) Drama
Introduced This Episode
Javier Bruno Bichir
Gloria Fernanda Urrejola
Emilio Brandon Larracuente
Lucia Emily Tosta
Beto Niko Guardado
Valentina Elle Paris Legaspi

Plot Overview

For over 23 years, after crossing the border, Javier and Gloria have raised a family, run a business, and were upstanding citizens. However, one day ICE sweeps through the area and takes them away. Thus leaving an 18-year business in the hands of children who range from their mid-20s to 12, not counting a baby who may not even be a year old.

And with their absence comes the realization the family unit, comprised of Javier and Gloria, then Emilio, the twins Lucia and Beto, Valentina, and the newest child Rafa, weren’t just reliant on Javier and Gloria financially, but in a multitude of ways. For as Luce begins to stray away from being the golden child, Beto forced to step up, Valentina torn between school, the family restaurant, and trying to keep the family together, it all becomes too much. Add in Emilio, Milo to some, initially not wanting to take on the responsibilities of being the oldest, it shows how much Javier and Gloria kept the family together and how, without them, it could split apart.



The Amount Of Tears You’ll Shed

Valentina (Elle Paris Legaspi) complaining to her family.
Valentina (Elle Paris Legaspi)

In many ways, “Party of Five” feels like Diane Guerrero’s book “In The Country We Love (My Family Divided)” brought to a series. At least in the form of understanding the emotion of what happens when your family is ripped apart, and you have no means to rectify the situation. Be it in the form of Emilio’s perspective, as a DACA status citizen who knows his predicament is precarious and while he speaks Spanish, he knows nothing of Mexico to his youngest sister Valentina who saw her parents arrested in front of her.

Witnessing that trauma and being reminded how many are ripped from their parents who are not only law-abiding citizens but pay taxes and are employers, shakes you to your core. Which isn’t to imply I’m not aware they broke the law by coming to the United States without filing paperwork, but there is something about our immigration laws that makes it so you can’t see things in Black and white. You have to allow some form of grey for while I’ve never been through the process, I have worked adjacent to departments which handle immigrant documents and if you ever truly listen to what it takes to come to America, your jaw would drop. Especially for those who aren’t coming here on student visas or work visas, but are those who believe in the kind of America that natural-born citizens, especially of younger generations, question the existence of.

It’s Timely

With stories like Guerrero’s, that of children in cages, and people dying due to deportation or being held at deportation centers, “Party of Five” feels timely. In fact, it reminds me of the start of “The Fosters” with a focus on one topic rather than trying to hit every topic it can conceivably can. Making it so it feels distinct about the experience of immigrants or first-generation Americans and the struggle to reconcile with the idea that the land of opportunity comes with limitations for certain people. And no matter how much value you present to your community, one thing, one event, can snatch it all from you, and there will be no defending yourself.

While Many Tropes Are Used, Because of The Situation & The Characters Being Latinx, They Seem Almost New

If you look too hard at “Party of Five,” you’ll realize most of the characters are pretty basic. You have the twins, Beto and Lucia, aka Luce, who are total opposites in that she is really smart, he is dumb, he has social skills, and while she may have friends, she is portrayed as a square. This changes as you watch the episode, but at their core, they fit that usual sibling dynamic. Then you have Valentina, who is the kind of sassy kid that, until life knocks them on their behind, is a bit too much like a peacock as she moves about.

But Emilio, who goes by Milo, might be the one who breaks the mold. For while it takes an episode for his siblings to be more than what you see on most sitcoms, with him, you see various issues in play. Be it him Americanizing his name to Milo, us often seeing him with white girls, and him not wanting to be like his parents, there is the need to question if some form of self-hate is in play.

Also, with him coming to America as a child, and representing the Dreamers, what was life for him like growing up? For as much as you can write him off as the spoiled oldest who doesn’t want any form of responsibility, as with his siblings, once he is reminded he and his family are seen as “Other,” they lose being seen as just American. Thus leading to them having to use a prefix and a dash, and realizing the kind of hardship their parents, mostly, tried to shield them from.

On The Fence

The Desire To Question Can “Party of Five” Grow Beyond The Topic of Immigration & Citizenship?

One of the issues I have found with FreeForm shows is that while they start off strong, usually, they sputter once they have tapped the well of the initial hook. Thus leading them from compelling and provoking storytelling to still being on the pulse of what drives American culture and consciousness, yet doing so in such a way the message could be lost in the theatrics.

So considering Lucia seemingly wants to be a bad girl, Emilio will likely be torn between his band and his newfound responsibilities, and Valentina going through puberty, and so much more, can this show go the distance? Can it balance showing these kids as different stages of teens or young adults without becoming lost in the pursuit of critical praise and the ratings that drama brings?


First Impression: Optimistic

While it is hard to say if “Party of Five” can evolve beyond its initial hook and not become shaky, what feels very clear is that it will have a strong and very emotional first season. One which will serialize the stories of many a family who fear deportation of either their person or loved ones in a system that has put their lives on the back burner due to politics.

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The Amount Of Tears You’ll Shed - 90%
It’s Timely - 85%
While Many Tropes Are Used, Because of The Situation & The Characters Being Latinx, They Seem Almost New - 84%
The Desire To Question Can "Party of Five" Grow Beyond The Topic of Immigration & Citizenship? - 75%


First Impression: Optimistic

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  1. Hey there, Amari long time no see, lol As usual great review.

    I am on season 1 episode 15 of the original/real Party of Five from the 90’s, so when I heard about this reboot, I had to check it out. It was good, very emotional, but damn did the writers take a lot from the original PO5’s pilot episode lol Some lines and even some scenes were straight up from the original lol, I almost had to do a double take. If it weren’t for the Spanish names and cellphones I would have thought it was the original from the 90’s lol Heck even with the siblings calling Beto – Bae or Bay lol

    I think that the show hit on all of the right emotional spots, the court room scene, the deportation scene, heck even seeing poor Valentina having to witness her parents being arrested was rough, along with Gloria realizing that they couldn’t take Rafa with them. I mean to go from taking baby Emilio over the boarder to, not being able to take their youngest was heartbreaking, I could not imagine going to another country without my baby.

    I love all of the characters they are very easy to relate to and sympathize with. For Valentina to be 12 and taking 9th grade math, damn she smart lol. They are the good illegals so to speak, the parents, they pay their taxes, and they pay their workers, and they give jobs to people in need. But sadly in the end they did and have been breaking the law for 23/24 years, unfortunately. It all is just a messed up situation.

    And even though, like I said the show hit all of the emotional spots that is should have, and I don’t want to bring up the original PO5 too much, but for me how the 5 Acosta kids end up having to “raise” themselves, it is totally different. With the original PO5 you felt the tension and the dysfunction on screen because we knew and understood that the Salinger’s parents were dead. They weren’t coming back, they weren’t just a phone call, or a Skype call away.

    When Charlie, Bailey, Julia, and Claudia went at it, and fought with each other you really felt that s*** because you knew that no parental figure was going step in and defuse the situation or have the kids kiss and make up, they really were on their own. Their grief was always there, even with all of the good, and happy times.

    You felt for Owen because his parents would literally be nothing to him but some photographs and stories his older siblings told him. There was no getting over that. Although little Rafa, is now without both of his parents as well. And considering how long a person who is now deported has to wait in order to come back to the USA and become legal, poor Rafa may also have to grow up with just pictures, video’s, phone calls, and stories from his older siblings about who his parents were.

    Now with this part, I don’t mean to offend, but because real people and families are going through this I think that it should be okay for me to able to say how I feel on this part, but I really do feel that the parents are to blame for the unfair situation that they put their kids in. I’m sorry but I think that it is totally messed up that the parents in their 24 years in America didn’t try at some point to get some sort of legal paper work started. Like I get that they didn’t want to get caught and that they wanted to make a better life for their children, but damn. The parents got married, they have 5 kids, the oldest is 24, you mean to tell me that they managed to get a house, a car, a whole ass restaurant and throughout that whole time they didn’t think to get their citizenship in order. Did the parents just believe that they would be able to send all of their kids to college, before the government found out about them. I’m sorry but everything that a person wants to do and have in life requires that you to have some sort of legal documentation, right? So, did they have all of those things except the starting papers needed for their legalization and citizenship?

    Also with the restaurant don’t you have to have some sort of legal documentation when it comes to that? Like even if a friend gave them the restaurant, they would still need to have something in writing because on the off chance something happened they would have legal papers saying that they owned restaurant? Cause I think that it would be pretty messed up for the parents to have legal paperwork over a restaurant, but have nothing in regards to their citizenship. Now the kids are going to have to suffer. And that is what always makes me mad, is now the kids have so suffer because the parents didn’t think to at least try to start the process of legalization.

    That’s all that it really comes down too. Is the children suffering. I know that Emilio is damn grateful that his parents did what they needed to do, not only for him, but for all of his siblings as well, but for them to have nothing in regards to their own citizenship is sad.

    But overall, just like with the Salinger clan, I feel a connection to the Acosta clan and I am really excited to see where the show goes with them, and like you said hopefully the show doesn’t get stuck and that they can evolve past their initial hook. I love all of the characters, especially as of now Emilio.

    1. In regards to their paperwork, there is a combination of ways they could have gotten past that. The legal method would be having someone with a valid SSN and information have everything registered under their name. The illegal method would be having a fake SSN and documents made up. However, considering all the paperwork required to run a business year in and year out, I can only fathom the sole reason they didn’t start the process is out of fear. For while DACA protects people who came before they were 18, there isn’t any known protection for those over 18 who are undocumented. Plus, as you noted, it is one thing if you overstay a VISA, have some form of refugee status, or what have you, but to just come and set up a life? As much as I admire what they have done, there is the need to question, was there never a conversation with a lawyer? If Emilio can look into DACA, why wasn’t there some questions into what could happen with them?

      Now, granted, I haven’t gone through any of this and my point of reference is a book I read quite a long time ago. But, as much as my eyebrow might be raised, I do feel the immigration process is probably far more complicated than given credit for and when you add in the situations the US created or contributed to that created crises, its hard to say anything.

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