Afro-Cuban Media Proposal: Me You & Eshu

Final Project Abstract
Me, You & Eshu
Television Series Treatment

The Assignment:
Students were prompted to come up with a proposal for a project of some sort of expressive communication that allows them to familiarize an American audience with Afro-Cuban religions and culture. We’re at a point in history where it would be beneficial for any ethnic group/religious group, especially a more unknown and stigmatized religion, to have quality media content that accurately represents their cultural practices. Practices like Santeria and Voodoo are often heavily stigmatized and seen as evil, akin to witchcraft, exotic or outdated savagery. These views come from years of misunderstanding that then leads to gross misrepresentation. Like a lot of prejudices, Old Hollywood can provide us with countless examples of overly caricatured Afro-Caribbean traits

The Medium:
For this project I chose to create a pitch for a Television Series (Network, Streaming or otherwise) that would incorporate Afro-Cuban culture in a way that is accurately representative of the characters it portrays and their existence in the modern world. With Cuban culture in general becoming more and more prevalent in the United States, it is high time that the various cultures that reside there are further normalized through the silver screen, or in this case the small screen. Of the Cuban land, the Afro-Cuban religious culture is one of the most highly stigmatized in the U.S. This can be combatted with quality entertainment media. Other forms of media are often more informational and a better representation than something of fiction (Documentaries, publications, special reports.) However true change in cultural understanding will come through the programs that people watch on a day-to-day basis. More often than not, these are the ones that make them laugh. We’ve recently seen a huge boom in what I have just now deemed New Normal family sitcoms. These are shows like, “Blackish” “Fresh Off The Boat” “Modern Family” and others. This trend combined with the recent Embargo news makes it seem like this is the exact point in time for a hit series starring some Afro-Cuban culture in modern America.

My Proposal: Me You & Eshu
Logline: A young Afro-Cuban musician and Santero in training moves in with his pregnant Jewish girlfriend and her parents in Miami. Changes in the Embargo draw his family to the area.

Summary: Javier Le Pierre is a young Afro-Cuban musician and training to become a priest of Santeria. After moving to the U.S. with his band, he quickly meets a young Jewish woman, named Jenny, in advertising whom lives with her parents in a beach house. They promptly fall in love and after mutually deciding to take things slow, she gets pregnant. They decide that their best option is for him to move in with her and her parents in their Miami beach house. Changes in the Embargo draw his family to the area, who look to him for support. That was in 2010. A few years down the road, they are still living with Jenny’s parents as well as a few of Javier’s family, and who could forget their baby, Eshu! Named after the Orisha of Chance! Javier’s band has found some success and he is now running a shop/church of Santeria a few buildings down from their house. Jenny is now a comedy writer for Television and is planning to make a show out of their lives but hasn’t told Javier. Jenny and Javier often compete for their baby’s cultural spotlight, and struggle to balance their practices in a fair way. Much like Turk and Carla on Scrubs. Jenny’s parents couldn’t be more interested with Javier’s practice of Santeria. They try very hard to understand and appreciate the intricacies, and they’re getting there however slowly. Javier’s family, who has moved next door to them, couldn’t be more enthusiastic about the two families cultural differences.

A show like this could spread knowledge about a community that often goes unknown and misrepresented in a way that’s enjoyable for all parties. This would be an opportunity for afro-Caribbean religions to be shown in the main stream in a way that makes their practices relatable to the average American audience. On-screen representation of minorities is a problem that the entertainment industry is still grappling with, and probably will be for a long time. The more shows of this nature that are pitched with underrepresented characters, inevitably the more that will get picked up, which can only work to draw people together. Be it in the U.S. the Caribbean or anywhere else on the planet if we can get the right kind of streaming contract.

*Depending on the funding that a pitch like this would attract, for my personal artistic taste it may not be as suitable for a younger audience as some executives may like. My point being that a show like this could work swimmingly as PG13 or non PG13*

One thought on “Afro-Cuban Media Proposal: Me You & Eshu

  1. Griffin Shapiro

    This sounds like a comical yet very realistic pitch for a television show. I was in a different section of Shaking the Spirits and also strongly agree that it is time for stereotypes and falsities about Santeria and Vodou to be put to rest. In my class we too looked at a few examples from Hollywood that portray a lot of things about Vodou that simply aren’t true, but are believed because they were in a movie. Like you said, movies make these practices seem primitive or savage. In reality, when you study something like Vodou or Santeria, they can make more sense then religions that aren’t stigmatized in our culture. I think the idea of creating a television series that explores these cultures is a great way to de-stigmatize Vodou or Santeria. Its educating while also entertaining, which is a good way to get people to watch. Its about time Hollywood stops taking advantage of other, more unknown cultures.

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