Hyphenating the Self

In this independently-produced comedy series (proudly starred and co-written by UT-Dallas alumna Sara Amini), two female friends expound hilariously on the quirks and challenges of living in current-day LA as WoC trying to break into “Hollywood”. Not only is each episode of Misery Loves Company thought-provoking while hilarious, it also stands out both as an exemplar and as counterpoint to Negron-Muntaner’s and Rodriguez’s & Beltran’s arguments about Latinx media.

Amini’s & Emily Chang’s series confirms the point that Latinas particularly have pushed for “owning the means of production”, becoming media producers in order to have more creative control over the ways they’re portrayed in media. Nonetheless, Misery Loves Company goes beyond that, for it’s not beauty but comedy the currency they market themselves with. Furthermore, it’s also a challenge that the series isn’t a Latinx-exclusive project, no matter how heavily Amini’s Colombian background influences the subject matter and approach of the series.

Being a truly independent production, it reinforces the notions pointed out by Rodriguez & Beltran in their research: after years of playing minor roles in series like Modern Family and Madam Secretary while honing their comedy skills in improv troupes, Amini and Chang turned to new media (and their network of collaborators) to make a series truly of their own. However, their strategy wasn’t to supply entertainment to a niche audience or just do a passion project, but to use the series as a platform to get noticed and validated by mainstream media—which has been a huge success in the shape TV festival awards, NBC writers competition honors, and development deals for future series. Their series wasn’t short lived because of funding or short-sightedness, but by design, since it simply teased and proved their hyphenated talents (as Amini & Chang alluded to in an Instagram post) as performers, comediennes, writers, producers, showrunners, rising stars, and Women-Of-Color.

References:

  • Negrón-Muntaner, Frances. 2016. “Beauty?” The Routledge Companion to Latina/o Media.
  • Rodriguez, Vittoria, and Mary Beltrán. 2016. “From the Bronze Screen to the Computer.” The Routledge Companion to Latina/o Media, 10.
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