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The Garcias Producer Jeff Valdez On Taking The Nickelodeon Franchise To HBO Max, His Feelings On Other Revivals Like iCarly And More

Ada Maris and Carlos Lacámara on The Garcias
(Image credit: HBO Max)

Nearly 22 years ago, viewers were introduced to The Brothers García, which made its television debut on Nickelodeon on July 23, 2000. The family sitcom centered on the Latino-American García family, consisting of parents Ray and Sonia and their four children: Carlos, George, Lorena and Larry, who were navigating the ups and downs of adolescence in San Antonio, Texas. The show ultimately concluded its run in 2004 after four seasons, though the titular family is now back in a sequel series titled The Garcias (streamable with HBO Max subscriptions). With its debut, series creator, showrunner and producer Jeff Valdez is opening up about bringing the franchise back and discussing his feelings on other Nick revivals like iCarly.

The Brothers García served as a watershed moment for the storied children’s network. At the time, it was billed as the first English-language sitcom to feature a cast and creative team made up entirely of Latino talent. The show received acclaim during its run, with many praising the characters, writing and depiction of Latin culture. The show was quietly cancelled, with no official reason given for the decision at the time. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Jeff Valdez about his work on the early 2000s show and its revival and, during our conversation, the producer shed some light on why Nick ended the series: 

Well, you know, we were told pretty much at the very beginning that if you manage to get to 50 episodes… [Nickelodeon’s] model is they do 50 episodes, and then they're done. Because it was one of their top shows, and we got to 52 episodes, I think it was. And then they just… it was like, ‘We hit a number and then you stop production on the show.’ And that was the way that we're managing shows at that time, live-action shows anyway. And they felt that once they have 50 in the can, there's no need to make more. We could have gone for another five seasons. We had that many stories, story ideas to continue with. That was just their model, it was a business decision. … I always wondered, I'm like, ‘But if it's working, why would you not make more?’ [laughs] But you know, they went on, did other things.

With that, the fan-favorite series eventually disappeared, though it has sporadically aired in reruns on Nick-related channels and blocks over the years. The chances of any kind of revival or sequel production happening seemed slim for quite some time. But it was in the early 2010s that the producer put a pan in motion to bring his beloved characters back to the screen: 

I had always had the desire [to revive the show], not as passionately in the beginning, as I actually have [in recent] years. But in 2011 I just said, ‘You know, this is crazy. There's nothing else on TV that's like this. That's clean, and it's family and you know, relatable. And then [from] 2011 till 2018, I tried to get the rights back. I came close a couple times. And then when Bob Backish took over [as] CEO of Viacom, I convinced Bob. … I spent seven years trying to get them from Nickelodeon, and Bob took over and you know, from the time I left his office at 1515 Broadway to walk into my hotel room 10 minutes later, the lawyers were on the phone saying, ‘Let's get a deal done.’ And then we got it done. And then my partner, Sol Trujill, he had arranged an overall deal [for] us at Warner and we had a 10-episode commitment to a series. And we very, very strongly encouraged [Warner] that we do [The Garcias] as the series. Because we could have done something, you know, that was brand-new, but then we're starting from scratch and I'm like, ‘There's a built-in audience, why wouldn't we take advantage of that?’

Jeff Valdez’s sentiments echo those of many creatives across Hollywood right now, as we’re currently living in the age of reboots, revivals and reimaginings. And it’s fair to say that Nickelodeon and Viacom have been at the forefront of this. In the past few years alone, the entertainment entities have revived the Miranda Cosgrove-led iCarly, produced a new Are You Afraid of the Dark? show and even rebooted Rugrats for a new generation. Valdez is more than aware of the massive influx of returning IPs and, when asked about those shows and his own following suit, he provided a reasonable response:

I have to admit, I haven't had a chance to see a lot of [the Nickelodeon revivals]. We were so busy shooting this…. I think there's a certain amount of nostalgia that, you know, people kind of like to see that thing come back, right? You know, a show that they really connected to. And in this case, when the cast came back together, because people say, ‘Well, what was it like when the cast got together?’ It was like they had just picked up from the day before. … Like when you have a friend, there are certain people in your life that you might not see for 10 years, then you see them, you're like, ‘Oh my god, it's like it was yesterday.’ And that's what happened with [The Garcias cast]. They were so close after four seasons together. Then when they got together [again], it was just magical.

Based on what the public has seen from the show thus far, it definitely feels like the returning stars – Carlos Lacámara, Ada Maris, Jeffrey Licon, Bobby Gonzalez, Vaneza Pitynski and Alvin Alvarez – are closer than ever. And Jeff Valdez seems incredibly excited about this, as the sequel series prepares to join the other Nick revivals out there. Though The Garcias is only one of many TV sequels out there, what may set it apart is the way in which Valdez and his team went about crafting it: 

Well, you know, when we first decided we were going to do it, there [were] people within the company that wanted us to do… cast new Larry, new George, new Carlos, new Lorena. And I'm like, ‘No, I don't think that's a good idea.’ My instinct is telling me, ‘No’, because we already did that. Why would you just put [in] new Garcia kids? And then I said, ‘I think it'd be more interesting to see, where are they all these years [later]? Are they married? Do they have kids? What happened? So there's this guy that pirates, the old shows online… and you go onto his site, you can find comments from people [from] five years ago until yesterday. And I said, ‘I want to ask the people that are watching the old episodes, ‘What do you want?’ And it was overwhelming. They said, ‘No, we want to know what happened to them.’

It’s fair that a lot of love and planning went into crafting the Garcia family’s return to TV. While the new series will switch things up by adding more members to the family and taking the group to Mexico, Jeff Valdez and his team seem ready to recapture what so many viewers loved about The Brothers García all those years ago.

The Garcias is now available to stream alongside some of the best HBO Max shows. While you’re at it, take a look at CinemaBlend’s 2022 TV Schedule for more on what’s coming your way this year.

Erik Swann
Erik Swann

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.