Hollywood has been reviving so many ’90s classics that it’s beginning to feel like overkill. But Freeform’s Party of Five reboot might just be the one show you need to check out this year.
The new series follows the same basic premise as the popular classic, except this time, the Salinger’s have become the Mexican-American Acosta family. And parents Gloria and Javi aren’t dead, they’re deported back to Mexico leaving eldest brother Emilio, played by 13 Reasons Why Brandon Larracuente, to take care of his four siblings and the family’s restaurant.
The updated plot of the series is just as gut-wrenching as the original but is significantly more politically relevant in today’s society, which is something the original show creators Amy Lippman and Christopher Keyser wanted when talks of a reboot became a reality. Lippman told the New York Post,
“All of these themes of the original series- which is kids raising themselves, trying to figure out how to remain a family without parents around- all those issues that we dealt with in the show are playing out on the front page of newspapers.”
“We saw an opportunity in the zeitgeist. The story told 25 years ago was no longer fictional; it was happening every day around the country. That seemed to be a reason [for a reboot]. And it seemed in some ways a much more urgent story to be told.”
The themes of the show hit incredibly close to home, particularly for actress Emily Tosta, who plays the eldest daughter Lucia. She opened up to On the Red Carpet about the struggles she faced as a young immigrant in America.
“I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, and I moved to this country when I was about 12 years old with my mom. English was not our first language whatsoever, we had no money, we didn’t even have legal status to work. We’ve struggled with a lot of immigration issues ourselves. To be able to pull from that and bring that realism and authenticity into my role it just helps to tell a more authentic story.”
The series premiere — which can currently be streamed right on Hulu — jumps right into the trauma that family separation causes immigrant families on an everyday basis. The youngest daughter Valentina witnessing her parents being taken away by ICE agents at their restaurant and she’s left alone and traumatized as restaurant-goers watch in shock.
The first episode is extremely difficult to watch, especially since viewers know that this is happening at this very moment to families around the country.
In August, ICE raided a small Mississippi town, arresting close to 700 migrants while they were at work, leaving countless children without their parents as they came home from their first day of school. And according to the ACLU, as of October 2019, 2,654 children were separated from their parents, with at least 1,000 of them being under the age of ten.
Since Gloria and Javi are still in the picture, we can expect a lot of immigration drama for not just the parents, but for the kids as well, specifically for Emilio, the Acosta’s only adult child. Emilia is the only person between his siblings and foster care and he also happens to be a DACA recipient. With the fate of DACA in limbo, that means that Emilio has to be on his best behavior at all times. He can’t even go with his siblings to visit his parents in Mexico. One wrong move and it could all be over for the Acosta siblings
Party of Five officially premiers on Freeform on January 8, with new episodes every Thursday. Just make sure to have a tissue box at arm’s length.