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Addressing Mr. Robot’s Anti-Latino Undertones (Spoilers Ahead with Graphic Imagery and Speech)

A Critique by An Avid Fan

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Mr. Robot engages its viewers with a realistic thriller of drugs, mental illness and a cynical view of our virtual reality. Centered in New York 2015, the series shadows Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) and his team of Fsociety. Their goal is to knock down corporate America one hack at a time. Of course, complications begin to arise. Elliot falls in love with his drug dealer Shayla Nico (Frankie Shaw), he struggles with DID and makes potential enemies.

Mr. Robot does an excellent job of including minorities into Elliot’s circle, especially Latinos. As a Latina, I was overjoyed when I saw myself on screen. However, as I advanced on my binge watch, my suspicion sparked. It is true that Latinos are often times victims of drugs and street violence in the U.S. The U.S government fails on its promise to serve ALL people. Our community lacks educational funding by the government along with being prone to live below the poverty line. Clearly people find their own means of making things meet. Spoiler Alert: it is the distribution of drugs. I have witnessed it around my city. Mr. Robot does paint a gruesome reality that is kept hidden.

Often times, the struggle I find is that Latinos are portrayed only as drug lords. Even though this is a reality for some, that is the only representation we receive. It is rare to get representation outside of that common stereotype.

Two Latino characters who played a significant role in season 1 were Fernando Vera (Elliot Villar) and his brother Isaac Vera (Rick Gonzalez). Fernando is notorious for distributing drugs, being Shayla’s supplier and part-time boyfriend. Along the way Fernando drugs and sexually assaults Shayla. Inevitably, he went to prison for his crimes.

At first, I wasn’t questioning this outcome. A criminal went to jail; he deserved what he got. But season 2 alerted me about something deeper. One of Fsociety’s members’, Romero (Ron Cephas Jones), was shot to death due to the hack aftermath of season 1.

Most likely Romero is Afro-Latino being that his name has Spanish roots. To me, I perceived him as the strongest link besides Elliot. Killing him was uncalled for. Mobley was the weakest link. If you want to get rid of a massive hacker group, take out the weakest link first and then move up from there. Nevertheless, we still do not know what the motive was behind his murder. I believe it is most likely due to his sketchy past or connection with Fsociety. Brutally murdering a black character, especially if they are mixed, does not look good in any angle considering the United States’s reputation of murdering both racial identities.

As we advance on this second chapter, we get to see a minor Latino character, Kareem (Kareem Savinon) as a frightened man caring out the sinister deeds of Joanna Wellick (Stephanie Corneliussen). Within their interaction, he did show signs of hesitation. Naturally, he was murdered by her personal hit-man because of this weakness. The show does establish her cunning nature, doing whatever it takes to make it to the top unhurt. But why murder him? Why not give him a warning instead of bluntly killing him? There could have been other ways to make Kareem know if he tells authorities about Joanna, he will be killed.

Mr. Robot is my favorite show of all time. With it’s twisted narrative and untold perspective from someone with an uncommon mental illness, it entices me. I tell everyone I meet to watch it. I will follow it until the very end. Even still, something does not sit right with me. I do not like how randomly all the Latino characters on the show are represented in a stereotypical manner. Either one is an abusive drug lord or the other one is a victim of violence. You can look at this situation from different angles. You can look at it from the viewpoint that every action has its consequence. Hacking and getting scrambled up with the wrong people will end up getting you killed no matter your background. The astounding thing about this series is that it always makes you think thrice.I appreciate how cleverly written it is. It tackles subjects that go against the media. Sam Esmail does a prodigious job of skating through Elliot’s eyes as if we were him. We have his same doubts, same fears and same excitement.

Nothing is perfect; even your favorite things will have holes in them. That’s the way things are. But we must address those holes in order to make things better. To strive for the best. I do not want to discourage you from liking it. I simply want to put these points on the table, as someone from a background that barely has diverse representation.

I hope season 3, which airs in October on USA Network, makes way for propitious Latino portrayals. Maybe a Latino will take part with Whiterose’s future plans or help Fsociety lay low. Latinos are more than delinquency.

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Written by Paola Fernandez

Paola Fernandez

Aspiring Cuban-American writer who lives under palm trees and loves coffee. You can contact Paola at paolafernandez42@yahoo.com.