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“This Fool” is a unique and original TV depiction of South Los Angeles

In the well-reviewed first season of “This Fool,” there’s a scene in which protagonist Julio (played by series co-creator Chris Estrada) sees a stranger stealing his family’s recyclable cans from their backyard. He shouts at the man to stop. Julio says his mother handed them over for money. “They were poor. We need those cans!”

“You are not poor. You are broke. There is a difference,” said the man, before asking a thoughtless question: “Have you ever been late for utility bills?”

“Yes,” Julio says, “all the time.”

“Well, I’ve never been late for utility bills,” says the man. “You know why? Because I don’t have…a house to live in because I’m poor. I wish I had broken enough to even get a bill. It should be nice.” The family’s cans, but also help him take cans from a neighbor. Classic Julio.

“This Fool” is loosely based on comedian Estrada’s position and upbringing as a Mexican American first generation in Englewood, California, and south-central Los Angeles. The Hulu series, set in the latter, centers on the return of Julio’s cousin Lewis (Frankie Quinones), a former gang member just released from an eight-year prison attempt. It’s a setting that influences several storylines, including Lewis’ participation in a rehab program called Hugs Not Thugs, which takes place at the place Julio works.

Apparently one of the few series focused on Latinos, “This Fool” has arrived amid the recent resurgence of working-class sitcoms. “Los Botes” (“The Cans”) is a notable episode that reflects on the subtle themes that make “This Fool” a unique show — even as it evokes other smart comedies (“Atlanta” and “Ramy”) and gives nods to other popular culture efforts. (Favorites 1993 crime drama “Blood In, Blood Out” and 2007 psychological thriller “Funny Games” are among them).

“I wanted to show the nuances of the class,” Estrada said in a phone interview. “I think that people who may be upper middle class or rich may view the world as a binary. Either you are poor or rich in this country. The truth is that there are working class people who may be poor at home or living off their paychecks for wages. They are not necessarily poor on the street.”

Broadcasting is experiencing an existential crisis, and viewers can tell

“This Fool” presents a rare and rare depiction of South Central comedy, a mining comedy of coexistence between African Americans and Latinos. (One elevator pitch was to display as if “Friday” had been made by the Coen brothers.) In one episode, Lewis bumps into a former rival, Dafonte (Hassan Johnson), who challenges him to a fight. Lewis recruits Chef Percy (Jamar Malachi Neighbors), an ex-member of the cupcake-making gang of Hugs Not Thugs, to help him and Julio in the quarrel. When Percy, who is black, learns who their target is, he is stunned. “Wait, there’s a Hispanic guy out there named Dafonte?” Asked.

Lewis says “No”. “It’s black.”

“I’m not going to help Mexicans beat up a black man,” Percy says. “I will keep rolling with you, but when we fight, I will have to fight alongside him.”

“Okay,” says Lewis. “I can respect that.”

Lewis and Dafonte agree to let go of the past, especially since their allies are dead. In irony, the gang members were killed not by gun violence but in car accidents related to texting and driving. “An epidemic,” Lewis says.

The goal, Estrada said, is “to show that these two groups live together and sometimes get along very well and sometimes don’t.”

“I don’t have a message about that,” he added. “I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything, I just wanted to portray it honestly and comically in a way that feels authentic to someone who might come out of this world.”

Estrada extracted more personal parts from his world for the series as well, for which he is also a writer and executive producer. Julio Esperanza (Laura Batalano)’s mother speaks exclusively Spanish, which is one of the many cues the character takes from Estrada’s mother, who worked as a janitor and often brought household necessities and other supplies from the office. In “This Fool,” Esperanza does the same, bringing home rolls of toilet paper because she refuses to buy softer brands—or let anyone else in—when a free option is available. It is a rule that angers the family including Apolita Maria (Julia Vera), whom she shares with Louis on the condition that he take her to McDonald’s.

But the series doesn’t shy away from uncomfortable and potentially more disturbing facts: “Los Botes” begins with Esperanza quietly cleaning up in the company office building where most white employees completely ignore her while she does her job. “I think working-class Latinos especially — people expect them to fade into the background, and so I wanted to show that,” Estrada said. But again, “It’s not a message. It’s accurately portraying something.”

The show, like life, gets surreal at times. One memorable scene plays out as a running joke that Esperanza loves Ronald Reagan – the Republican she was shocked to discover – because of the amnesty granted to illegal immigrants during the 40th president’s administration. Reagan appears to Esperanza in a vague sexual dream in which the former actor (confidently, if English, Spanish) admits to the destabilization of Central America and that he “may have had a role in creating the crack epidemic”. (The episode’s final credits were played on Canadian punk band DOA’s song Reagan Dess.)

And while the cast of “This Idiot” Created by Pat Bishop, Jake Wiseman, and Matt Ingbritson of Comedy Central—one of the few TV credits Estrada had prior to this breakout role—generally liked to stick with the script, and weren’t afraid to experiment. Executive Producer Fred Armisen, who attended meetings with the creators to support the project as it was shown on networksAnd the He appears as a guest star alongside Elisa Coupe in the penultimate episode.

“We feel very confident in our writing,” Estrada said of himself and the showrunners. “But we also understand we have Armisen and Coupe, who are incredibly talented. And funny, and it would be a shame not to let them improvise.” They did some passages of the text as written and some excerpts that were over the cuff. Estrada said the final scene was “a mixture of the two”. “He was eating our cake and he ate it too.”

the offer, While she is rowdy on high comedy and junky, she is equally successful in her quiet remarks about everyday life. Julio struggles with both his family’s interdependence and his on-and-off relationship with high school sweetheart Maggie (Michelle Ortiz). In crafting his hero, Estrada was inspired by director Charles Burnett’s 1978 drama “The Sheep Killer,” which depicts working-class African Americans in the Watts neighborhood of south Los Angeles. Estrada said Julio “isn’t a villain or a bad person in any way.” “But he’s also not a perfect guy and he’s existential and kind of depressed and he’s stuck in life.”

“I thought this would be a great way to portray the character,” he added. You can never see a man out of ‘hood, be existential or depressed, for lack of a better word.

Julio makes some really bad decisions, but the show doesn’t judge him or the other characters for their flaws. “I wanted to make sure we didn’t create a show that looked like a moral play,” Estrada said. “The last thing I want to do is justify my existence to anyone.”


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