A Tribute to The George Lopez Show: A family sitcom with edge and reality.
When we talk about great family sitcoms, for some crazy reason George Lopez, the mega hit ABC sitcom that ran from 2002–2007 often gets overlooked in the conversation. The show was the first and longest lasting family sitcom with an all Latino cast featuring a mix of Mexican and Cuban actors. The Lopezes may have been of the Mexican\Cuban descent but the laughs they gave us, their family problems and love for one another was universal to families of any and all races.
Before George Lopez the only tv shows to boast Latino actors were I Love Lucy with Desi Arnaz, Sanford and Son with Gregory Sierra and Chico & The Man with Freddy Prinze Sr. Sandra Bullock… Yes, THAT Sandra Bullock was the genius that discovered George Lopez at a stand up performance and just knew that there should be a show for this guy. Bullock and Lopez had a hard time pitching the show around, but eventually found the perfect writer to develop the pilot named Bruce Helford and all three pitched the show to the ABC network. They tested the show with 4 episodes before committing to 13 episodes the following fall and George was given full starring, writing, creator and producer credits. And, the rest, as they say is history.
It starts from the top: The comedy genius of George Lopez himself.
George Lopez, as we all know is a comedy genius and his amazing work on this show being both as hilarious as we all know he is, but also being a great dramatic actor which most would never expect. George was a perfect lead for this show with his versatility in comedy and drama:
Benny Lopez: Mother Knows (and cares) Less.
George’s arch nemesis was his own mother Benita Lopez who wasn’t exactly the mother from heaven, but boy did she provide some of the funniest lines and greatest moments of the show. Like Marie Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond, Benny was very much the spine of the show and without her being the ultimate antagonist, most of the comedy and the stories wouldn’t have been there:
From day one, the Lopez clan stole our hearts. The show was a huge ratings success very early on for the network, especially with the Latin community that the network hoped to have coveted. The show struck a chord with audiences because it was both hilariously funny and deeply real. The show tackled some serious ups and downs of family life from death, racism and teenage sex to divorce, abuse and dyslexia. The Lopezes felt like a real family, and through it all they laughed together and at each other, supported each other and argued and bickered with each other, but ultimately loved and protected each other.
The series finale aired on May 8, 2007, after the show was canceled by ABC. According to Lopez, ABC prime-time entertainment president Steve McPherson called him over the weekend and explained that the network would lose money if the show was picked up again, and that it wasn’t doing well financially. Lopez stated that the explanation was “painful to hear,” noting that the show had four different time slots in only five years and had to constantly compete against shows like “American Idol”.
Lopez also criticized ABC’s decision to approve the show “Cavemen”, being perplexed at the circumstances: “So a Chicano can’t be on TV, but a caveman can?” According to Lopez, 170 staff members who worked on the show lost their jobs. Lopez explained that he “took the five years of good, and I did a lot with the good. My popularity, I was involved in charities, I overcame my illness, all on TV. I shared all of that with America — every secret I had… Every emotion. Everything was open to the show. And what happens?
Despite the ridiculous and heartbreaking cancellation, the show continues to thrive on syndication. It has been shown on The CW, CMT and ran on Nick at Nite consistently for over twelve years, and is currently airing on TBS. The show and its legendary cast just won’t go away, and let’s hope they’ll continue to stick around for many years to come. So, if you’ve never actually took the time to watch and fall in love with The George Lopez Show then Sabes Que, I’ll take a page out of George Lopez’s catchphrase book: “Haven’t seen the show? Ta Loca, haven’t seen the show!?” Adios, peeps.