Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Beyond the fact that it was seen on PBS, the dramatic series American Family bore no relation to the classic docudrama series of the 1970s. Created by filmmaker Gregory Nava, the series focused on a "typical" Latino family in East L.A., and as such was the only program on "regular" TV to feature an almost exclusively Latino cast. Edward James Olmos starred as patriarch Jess Gonzalez, a Korean war veteran, barber, and staunch conservative. Jess often found himself at ideological war with his daughter Nina (Constance Marie), a feminist attorney who'd returned to the family home in the wake of a personal tragedy. Also on hand was Jess' semi-estranged wife Berta (Sonia Braga); his older son Esteban (Esai Morales), a recent prison parolee who struggled to maintain custody of his own son Pablito (Austin Noah Marques); younger offspring Cisco, who incessantly videotaped his family and posted his handiwork on his own website; and the family's zany Aunt Dora (Raquel Welch), who, perhaps inevitably, lived next door. According to Gregory Nava, the series' dramatic thrust was that the Gonzalezes were "trying to deal with their identity -- who they are, where they came from, and where they are now." American Family began its 12-episode run on January 23, 2002.