Family is at the heart of Netflix’s brand new comedy, Gentefied. From the very first episode, series premiere “Casimiro,” it is obvious there is simmering hostility between Morales cousins Chris (Carlos Santos) and Erik (J.J. Soria). Yet, Chris and third cousin Ana (Karrie Martin) don’t share any of that tension. And everyone loves “Pop,” Morales patriarch/grandpa Casimiro (Mexican-born acting icon Joaquín Cosio). However, only Chris and Erik live with their abuelo.
Ana is instead trapped in her own cold war battle of wills with her sometimes cruel mom Beatriz (Laura Patalano) and adorable little sister Nayeli (Bianca Melgar).
Since we meet the Morales clan long after their complicated family dynamics have set, it's sometimes difficult to understand how exactly everyone in Gentefied is related. This mystery especially rings true when it comes to the Morales cousins’ respective fathers. That is why we turned to the cast for answers.
“[My character is] a Mexican man who immigrated to the United States,” Joaquín Cosio, who plays inevitable fan-favourite Pop, tells Refinery29 in Spanish from Netflix’s Los Angeles headquarters. Pop is still grieving the death of his wife Delfina, who died a few years prior and is the namesake of the Moraleses' taco shop.
“At the beginning of the story, his three sons don’t take charge of their kids, Casimiro’s grandchildren,” Cosio continues. “He decides to take care of the kids like a father, as their grandfather.”
Although it is not implicitly explained throughout Gentefied’s first 10 episodes, there is a concrete reason each of the Morales grandkids are missing their father’s influence. Erik’s father is in jail. Chris’ father fled the Morales’ heavily Latinx, East L.A. neighbourhood of Boyle Heights for the Middle American flatlands of Idaho, “He’s not paying attention to me,” the character’s portrayer, Carlos Santos, jokes to Refinery29. “He doesn’t care about his son,” Cosio adds about Chris’ dad, who is listed as “El Cucuy” in his son’s phone — subtlety likening him to Mexico’s boogeyman.
Then, most importantly, Ana’s father is dead, which is never talked about — let alone fully explained — in Gentefied season 1.
“He passed away,” Karrie Martin, who plays free-spirit Ana, confirms to Refinery29. “He was Pop’s golden child. I think that has a lot to do with how Pop is with Ana on the show.”
As we can see from the very beginning of Gentefied, Pop would do anything to support Ana’s artistic dreams after the death of her father and his favourite son. This tragedy also explains some of the obvious bitterness emanating from Ana’s mom Beatriz — the single mother of two is also likely a widow and excluded from the super-tight Morales family bond.
Santos believes previous loss also explains his character’s season 1 journey. “Chris was born in Boyle Heights and moved with his dad to Idaho. So he had his formative years out there, and then he came back [to L.A.],” Santos explains. “That’s why there’s a little bit of an existential crisis for him: because he wants to feel like he belongs. But Chris went away … He’s fighting that, he’s yearning for acceptance and is very much caught in the middle, in every sense of the word.”
Now that J.J. Soria’s character, bookish budding entrepreneur Erik, is approaching fatherhood, he hopes to see Erik's parental history similarly bleed into his current storyline (mention of Erik’s dad is limited to a few spare flashbacks in season 1). “I pulled from my own life to be the backstory of Erik. My relationship with my father growing up is somewhat similar to his,” Soria, who is no longer in contact with his biological father, says. “We don’t really touch on Erik's backstory too much, but if and when we get a second season, I’m sure it’ll be delved into more.”