Wednesday, January 22, 2020

REVIEW: 'Party of Five' - Emilio and Lucia Try to Expand Beyond the Lives Left Behind by Their Parents in 'Authentic Mexican'

Freeform's Party of Five - Episode 1.04 "Authentic Mexican"

Emilio tries to take the business to the next level by catering a private event. However, things go south when the client expects the caterers to dress up and behave a certain way. Emilio does everything he can to appease her but draws a line when Beto gets yelled at by the guest of honor.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Freeform's Party of Five.

"Authentic Mexican" was written by Gabriel Llanas and directed by Jenée LaMarque

Javier and Gloria Acosta came to the United States in order to provide a better life for their children. It was a land of more opportunities and freedom. They managed to built successful and happy lives for themselves. And now, the Acosta siblings have to step into the shoes of their parents in order to sustain this life. It may be them following their parents' dreams instead of their own though. That's the pressure the family is now facing. They don't want to be confined for what their parents settled for. They still want more in their lives. They want to embrace the opportunities afforded to them. They have more responsibilities now. Every action comes with the perception of how their parents would have handled the situation. Emilio never thought he would be running a restaurant. And yet, he is devoted to keeping the family business a success. That just means he aspires to expand right away. His father built this business. He had a solid identity of what this place could offer to the community. And now, Emilio wants to explore catering events as a way to grow. These characters believe that they constantly have to be expanding their horizons. That's the way the world tells them to experience life. They should always be hopeful about what can happen. They should reach for the stars and make things happen for themselves. That can contrast with the painful realities of life as they currently know it. They may ultimately have to settle for less in order to keep the family together. That may be a trade off they have to accept due to their parents' deportation. That is so destructive to their individual psyches though. Emilio wants to make this catering event work no matter what. And yet, he finds himself in an environment where the hostess views his Mexican culture and heritage as a costume that can be used to decorate her backyard. It's a fun celebration that can help her send the right message after previously offending her son. But this is a family who has a very condescending view towards the Acosta family. The hostess expects a mariachi band even though that was never something discussed with Emilio. She has the waiters wear colorful ponchos in order to make it a big theme. It's embarrassing and offensive. Emilio only pushes back when it comes to Beto making a public mistake and the family demanding an equally public firing. That is a despicable moment. Yes, Beto does make a mistake by kissing this girl while on the job. He has a responsibility to honor with his family. He is against this job until he meets Ella. After that, she is all that he can think about. That can make him a formulaic character. It's the same way he interacted with Vanessa. As such, it's clear that he is following in Emilio's footsteps as the player of the family. That isn't good. In fact, it's unprofessional. This has to be taken seriously. The line between family and business may always be blurred. However, Lucia proves herself as an asset while arguing with a man on what to pay for the damage to his car. Meanwhile, Beto is the one who invites more trouble. He may continue to do so as well. Again, it's fundamentally about these characters not wanting to be limited by the choices they can make in life. The fear of being restrained in that way does so much damage though. Emilio breaks up with Vanessa because he has a vague yearning for more. He ruins a good thing simply because he knows he should have more in his life that isn't just what his father built. Meanwhile, Lucia doesn't know how to comfort Val because she too fears that being just like her mother will keep her from embracing her own sense of identity. She pushes back against any stereotypes. And yet, Val needs comfort and can seemingly only get it from Beto. This family has each other. However, they don't know how to raise each other or even relate to these struggles that are now present in all of their lives. That's a fascinating dynamic that divides the family at the moment. The parents can provide some reassurance. The fear of moving on can be painful as well though and isn't something that Val, in particular, is willing to accept quite yet.