Why Lopez Vs. Lopez's Creator Wanted To Address Characters Feeling 'Shame' About Not Speaking Spanish In New Episode

George Lopez and Mayan Lopez in NBC's Lopez vs. Lopez
(Image credit: NBC)

Warning: spoilers ahead for Episode 3 of Lopez vs. Lopez Season 1 on NBC, called “Lopez vs Espanol.”

NBC’s Lopez vs. Lopez has been delivering laughs (that are definitely not canned) since premiering in early November, while also tackling some serious issues like money troubles and anxiety. In “Lopez vs Espanol,” Mayan had to come clean to her dad that she’s not fluent in Spanish, leading George to say that she’s not a “real Lopez.” Debby Wolfe, who created the new sitcom, opened up about why she wanted the show to address the perceived “shame” of not speaking Spanish vs. speaking Spanish with these characters. 

One of the funniest running jokes of “Lopez vs Espanol” was Mayan memorizing some select phrases of Spanish and using them to fake her fluency, with her mom and partner helping cover for her in front of George. Her ruse fell apart when she was tasked with directing two movers who could only speak Spanish, with disastrous results (including being called a “Karen”). Her father initially stuck to his guns that she wasn’t a “real Lopez” if she didn’t speak Spanish, but they had a heartfelt conversation by the end of the episode.

He revealed that he’d faced so much pressure to “blend in” as a child that he thought it would be easier on her if she didn’t speak it. The episode showed how the issue affected both characters in different ways (while still letting the humor shine), and creator Debby Wolfe (who is only the second Latina in the history of television to create and run a network sitcom) named it as one of the elements of Season 1 that she’s most proud of. Speaking with CinemaBlend, she shared:

I'm really proud always of the specific episodes that we can only do on this show, that relate to our culture. We have an episode where we talk about what it's like to be a Latina who doesn't speak Spanish, which I can relate to. I don't think I've ever seen that topic covered, but there's a lot of shame in the community. But there's shame on both ends, right? There's shame for if you don't speak it and then there's shame if you do speak and you have an accent, so you get shamed from people who don't speak it. So you can't win either way. [laughs]

The episode ended with George and Mayan seeing each other’s side, and Mayan decided that she wants to learn Spanish along with her young son, who spent the episode refusing to learn from Rosie until Rosie had the stroke of genius to introduce her grandson to telenovelas. I’m not sure that Spanish-language soap operas will work on Mayan as well, but the Lopez family came together as strong as ever by the time the credits rolled. 

Debby Wolfe went on to say that she was “really excited” for “Lopez vs Espanol” to air because she thought it would “be really relatable to a lot of Latinos in America who don’t speak Spanish.” It’s definitely not a topic that has been addressed on other sitcoms, and proves yet again that Lopez vs. Lopez has been a solid and unique addition to NBC’s lineup. The creator also previewed that an episode is on the way about cultural appropriation.

If the handling of the perceived “shame” about speaking Spanish vs. not speaking Spanish is any indication, the comedy will continue finding ways to touch on serious topics and keep delivering the laughs. Between the format, topics, and George Lopez’s experience as a stand-up comic, Lopez vs. Lopez has what will hopefully be a winning recipe for NBC on Friday nights. If you’ve missed any episodes so far, you can catch up with a Peacock Premium subscription.

The network started a new Friday night comedy block this fall, beginning with Lopez vs. Lopez at 8:30 p.m. ET leading into Season 3 of Young Rock. Both debuted in the 2022-2023 TV season later than a lot of other shows, but they already have their return dates in the 2023 premiere schedule for viewers to start planning ahead for the new year. 

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.