Disney’s cable network Freeform debuted its politically charged reboot the 1990s teen drama Party of Five but instead of lovelorn teens, this reboot centers around the injustices of President Trump’s immigration policies.
On Wednesday evening, the Disney-owned cable network aired its first episode of the reboot. The twist on the “missing parents” theme of the original show will leave the young family stranded illegally in the U.S.
The episode opens with the father Javier Acosta (Bruno Bichir) being apprehended and arrested by ICE agents at his own restaurant. The scene plays out in front of his youngest children. A courtroom scene sees judge refusesing to overturn Javier and his wife’s deportation. “Unfortunately, heartbreak…is anything but uncommon in these cases. So is the wrenching apart of families,” the judge says.
Another overtly political scene shows the Acosta children saying goodbye to their parents at an immigration detention center. At one point, the middle child Lucia (Emily Tosta) shouts, “What’s the matter with this country?”
In the original series, the five young people were orphaned when their parents died in a car accident. The series then chronicled the dead couple’s children as they tried to cope with the loss and to continue as a family with the eldest son in charge. But in the remake of the series, instead of being killed in a car accident, the Mexican immigrant family’s mother and father have been deported back to Mexico, leaving their children to cope without them in the U.S.
The new Party of Five dives sideways into politics by portraying America as a place of foreboding and dread for the five Acosta children stranded in a hostile land while their parents are sent hundreds of miles away.
For instance, the series avoids any direct mention of President Donald Trump or the policy of separating illegal alien parents from their children. But in one scene, the family is told that things are “different” now, presumably because of the election of Donald Trump.
In another case, the family’s middle daughter, Lucia (Emily Tosta), was the perfect student until her parents were detained. Now she is sure that no one cares how well she does because the country is aligned against kids of immigrants. The American dream does not exist; viewers are led to believe.
Instead of it serving as a cudgel, the politics hang like a pall over the five children of their deported parents. Viewers are constantly told that these children live in a sort of limbo, not exactly standing on the verge of deportation, but at the same time not exactly living in the country legally. The children fear being split up if their oldest brother, Milo (Brandon Larracuente), loses his quasi-legal status as a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“It’s a circumstance that isn’t just the stuff of scripted television but is real and relatable for families who’ve been ripped apart by the Trump administration’s immigration policies,” Vulture notes in its review of the series.
The show, ordered to series in mid-2018, is helmed by the original series creators, Christopher Keyser and Amy Lippman. The producers struck an extraordinarily partisan and political note in their initial statement announcing the series.
“Twenty-five years ago, we imagined a story about five kids navigating the world after the untimely death of their parents,” the producers said.
“Today, stories of families being separated, children having to raise themselves in the wake of their parents’ deportation don’t require any imagination; they are everywhere.”
Still, it remains to be seen if the show’s attempts at gutwrenching storylines will pique the interest of audiences since the whole theme of families of illegals being separated from each other for breaking America’s immigration laws has faded from the news. The Trump administration has succeeded in seriously cutting the number of illegals crossing the border and the so-called “caravans” of illegals attempting to crash the border are all but disappeared. Even Mexican authorities have joined with the Trump administration with well-funded and wide-spread deportation programs.