‘Grand Hotel’ is the Spanish Tale American TV’s Been Missing

If you like shows with irresistible romance and secrets itching to be revealed, or are a fan of shows like Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty, then ABC’s Grand Hotel is for you. This provocative and innovative series is the incomparable hit drama of the summer. With forbidden love and constant surprises it is sure to become your newest guilty pleasure. Every character on the show has a unique story to tell that is worth your investment. 

Grand Hotel was developed by Brain Tenon (Desperate Housewives and Devious Maids) with Eva Longoria acting as executive producer and director. The show is an adaptation of the Spanish television series Gran Hotel. Both series are based on events that took place in 1906-1907 in Cantaloa, Spain. In the Spanish version, a man named Julio comes to visit his sister, Cristina, after months apart, at a luxurious hotel where she works as a maid. Upon arrival Julio discovers Cristina has gone missing. He then decides to go undercover as a hotel waiter in order to figure out what happened to Cristina. Julio ends up falling for the hotel owner’s daughter, Alicia. They engage in a secret romance as they work together to uncover the secrets of the Gran Hotel.

The American version is based on the same tale, yet many of the names have been changed and details of the story have been altered. In the pilot episode, Danny (Lincoln Younes) arrives at the Riviera Grand to investigate undercover after his sister Sky (Arielle Kebbel) mysteriously goes missing during a stage four hurricane. The hotel, located in South Beach, Miami, is owned by Santiago Mendoza (Demian Bichir). His wife Beatriz (Eva Longoria) left it to him to manage after she died. Santiago has two children, Javi (Brian Craig), a full time party boy and Alicia (Denyse Tontz) a highly responsible do-gooder with an MBA. Almost immediately after Beatriz’s death, Santiago got remarried to her best friend Gigi (Roselyn Sanchez). Gigi has two daughters of her own, Carolina (Feliz Ramirez) and Yoli (Justina Adorno).

What makes the show so special is that it is a story about Latinx Americans created by Latinx producers, writers, and directors themselves. Most popular US television shows tend to have one or two Latinx cast members at most. Often, people of colour are given side character roles on primarily white casted shows. While there are Latina Hollywood actresses such as Jennifer Lopez, America Ferrera, and Gina Rodriguez that have been previously cast as leads, they rarely get to share the set with other actors of their same culture. Grand Hotel is providing this unique opportunity to it’s cast and crew.

While Latinx Americans make up about eighteen percent of the American population, less than eight percent are represented in the media. As a group of individuals that make up almost one fifth of Americans, we should be sharing their stories more often. Not only are they not being seen on screen, but out of the forty percent of Americans that fall in the category of ‘minorities’, they only make up 12.6 percent of Hollywood directors.

Latinx culture is brought to the screen through several plot mediums in Grand Hotel. First off, the show takes place in Miami Beach, which is one of the leading cities in inhabiting Latinx Americans and their culture. Also, the characters in Grand Hotel often speak using Spanish words and phrases. For example, Alicia calls her father ‘Papi’, the Spanish word for daddy. Santiago often refers to Alicia as his ‘Mi Hija’, meaning ‘my daughter’. He calls Gigi his ‘Mi Amor’, meaning ‘my love’. Grand Hotel is making history by bringing a classic Spanish story to American television.

While Grand Hotel engages in a culture that may be different from what we usually see on TV, that is not the only reason to watch. It’s characters are relatable and they all have something to teach through their mistakes. As the series moves along, you will become wholeheartedly immersed in the drama taking place at the Riviera Grand. New theories about Sky’s disappearance come out as evidence is uncovered. Everyone is a suspect, so close attention is required. Also, there are several forbidden romances in the show that you can’t resist rooting for. You won’t be bored for a second. 

Every episode of Grand Hotel will surprise and entice you to invest deeper. It is inclusive and something we can all enjoy. Because it has a wide range of appeal and is entirely amusing, Grand Hotel is undoubtedly the best new series of the summer.

You can catch up on Grand Hotel at ABC.com or Hulu and watch every Monday night at ten o’clock EST on ABC


by Blair Krassen

Blair lives in Philadelphia and is studying creative writing at the University of the Arts. She is a comedy fiction and screenwriter. Her favorite show is Charmed(the original) and her favorite movie is the Sandlot. She loves sitcoms and female comedians. You can follow her twitter @blairlyawake

Categories: Reviews, TV

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