Last summer, Julia Ahumada Grob and Yamin Segal, creators of the popular East WillyB web series took to kickstarter, hoping to raise 50K in 50 days to fund a new season. The media savvy producers took social media by storm, their funding campaign quickly became the buzz of the internet. As the deadline neared, the pledges came pouring in and they hit $50,000 with less than 24 hours to spare.
Thanks to the success of the kickstarter campaign and a fully funded budget, East WillyB is back with six new episodes starting today. Often compared to Cheers, the series centers on a Puerto Rican bar in Bushwick owned by Willie Jr. who is fighting to keep the gentrification of the neighborhood from creeping into his bar.
Willie (played by Flaco Navaja) inherited the bar from his dad and is fiercely protective of its “Latinoness.” He refuses to change anything even if it means losing out on business from the slew of hipsters who are slowly taking over the neighborhood. The rest of the characters are his friends, neighbors, and his ex, Maggie, who all drop by the bar regularly.
The new season opens with Willie mourning the loss of Maggie. Their relationship is over for good this time, she hooked with the whitetino Albert, his childhood nemesis who owns a competing bar. After chugging down drink after drink and in the depths of despair, Willie drunkenly tells his friends, “I am done with women. I’m done. Men don’t take you to a Ruben Blades concert and then break up with you. We do it straight up, with a text.” Using humor and packaged in short digestible episodes East WillyB is targeted at young Latinos.
The New York Times has called it a, “Latino Show for a New Generation.” So, who is this new generation? Sometimes called American Latinos or Generation ñ, they are Latinos born in the United States who speak English as their first language. East WillyB is a reflection of this generation. Willie, the main character, is a second generation Puerto Rican who wears guayaberas and loves baseball. Ceci (played by Julia Ahumada Grob) is half Mexican, half Cuban but gets made fun of for being, “whiter than milk.” And while some of the characters struggle with their Spanish, Albert (played by Danny Hoch) is a white guy who grew up in Bushwick and speaks better Spanish than all of them.
East WillyB is a breath of fresh air that will hopefully spark a revolution in television programming aimed at Latinos. True to the New York experience the Latino characters are not just Puerto Rican or Dominican. They are a mixture of nationalities: Mexican, Cuban, Salvadorian, Puerto Rican and even some halfsies. With Latinos in front of and behind the camera the storylines are written for Latinos by Latinos. The result is an authentic portrait of a culture that no market research could replicate, regardless of how hard mainstream television networks try to appeal to this much sought after demographic. It’s the little details that make it ring true to the American Latino experience. They argue soccer vs. baseball, make fun of each other’s broken Spanish and listen to hip-hop and salsa. Let’s hope that television executives will take note and follow suit.
East WillyB will premiere six brand new episodes beginning March 20th and running bi-weekly through May 15th on their dedicated Youtube channel and website. Follow @EastWillyB on Twitter and Facebook. Tweet about the premiere and use the hashtag #ewbpremiere
Written by Juan Caceres and Vanessa Erazo, LatinoBuzz is a weekly feature on SydneysBuzz that highlights Latino indie talent and upcoming trends in Latino film with the specific objective of presenting a broad range of Latino voices. Follow @LatinoBuzz on Twitter and Facebook.