A shared world series of novels and anthologies, with both urban fantasy and near future science fiction / post-cataclysmic attributes. They take place in Bordertown, a dimensional city that has no particular location, but borders the Real World and the Elflands or Faerie. Punk, rock 'n' roll, and high fantasy elements mix to form more than your usual young adult urban fantasy dreck. Contributing authors include Charles de Lint, Midori Snyder, Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Pat Cadigan, and Terri Windling. Good stuff! Recommended for fans of Neil Gaiman, the Weetzie Bat books, and so on.

FOX animated comedy, debuting in 2016. 

It follows the trials and tribulations of the community in "Mexifornia", a fictitious town on the Mexico/California border, centering mostly around Immigration agent "Buck Buckwald", as voiced by the Simpsons' Hank Azaria. Surrounding him is his gloriously lower middle class family, consisting of his wife Janice and eldest daughter Becky, a plain girl in her 20s who is a pudgy would be radical enamored of the boy next door. Rounding out the family is her possibly older brother (whether he's actually a member of the family is in dispute) Sanford, who is unemployed and living at home, and youngest daughter Gert, who is a Honey Boo Boo style child beauty pageant competitor (complete with tiny pet pig).

Next door is Ernesto Gonzalez, voiced by Nicholas Gonzalez, an ever-cheerful and hardworking first generation Mexican American who runs a landscaping company. His son J.C (who appears to have no marketable skills or job opportunities either) is the quintessential college liberal, and rounding out his family is the elderly grandfather, and a small mischievous boy, "Pepito". 

The creator of this show is Family Guy scriptwriter Mark Hentemann, but it's overseen by Seth McFarlane of Family Guy fame. Also consulting on the project is editorial cartoonist and cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz, whose cartoons focus around Chicano culture, first generation Latino immigrants and social activism around issues pertaining to these communities. 

The tension in the show comes from the fact that Buck has spent most of his life doing what he thought was correct: patrolling the border, keeping Mexicans out, putting in time at work year in year out in the vain hope that someday he would be a somebody. His father owned a business in Mexifornia, but most of the businesses closed down when the Mexicans came in and undercut the locals - meaning he had to get a low-rent government job. Echoing this theme is a gag in which Ernesto, in a frank, honest and very human moment - wishes that Mexicans were kept out just after he got in (after losing business of his own) and angelic dust from on high comes down to anoint him "officially" American.

Sandwiched between the wily smuggler El Coyote and his Latino-descended boss, he cannot help but find himself bitter at being on the losing end of society, turning into an almost racist curmudgeon. What keeps him from the brink is that he's required to be nice to his boss, his neighbor is an eternal optimist and friendly to all, and his daughter is dating Ernesto's son.

The show is in its infancy, so there's not much to be said about it yet, but one has to look at the potential and the "DNA" of sorts inherent in the show. It's shown early promise for not lampooning one set of people over the other (it's as likely to point out how illegal immigration is hurting the people in the border town, as well as being sympathetic to the plight of those escaping Mexico), and for being frankly sensitive to all of its characters, regardless of their flaws. The Family Guy people contribute sight gags (though, thankfully, no "cut-aways") and Alcaraz and others provide some biting commentary, such as a scene in which it looks like a group of folks are nodding in agreement in a meeting, but you zoom in to see it's a Mexican cartel leader swivelling severed heads on a spit-like pole.

It's still showing signs of growing pains, and there are some gags that just don't land right - and the choice the voice actress Alex Borstein (Lois of Family Guy) made for Becky makes her sound like Miss Piggy. It's also managed to upset a significant number of people, based on feedback, in ways that Family Guy does not. Being crass is one thing. Portraying the mayor in handcuffs in an orange jumpsuit or making gun owners and rednecks out to be ignorant and stupid is another. Given it's a Fox property, I'm sure that the significant anti-right wing and anti talk show sentiment expressed by the show might not sit right in the halls of Fox, either. But then again, Fox made Married with Children, and scored again with Family Guy - and even Rush Limbaugh was self-effacing enough to appear on that show. 

It may not have the chance to make enough episodes to see syndication, but there's significant potential in how they've framed the cast and set up the setting. Once the audience gets to know the characters it won't have to rely on gags as much as situation comedy for what it is. And America's simultaneous dislike and profiteering off illegal immigration, as well as its mockery of Latino culture even as it appropriates it - is rife for a good comedic mining.

 

 

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