A preview of the new Disney animated series Primos has been met with massive backlash and accusations of blatant pandering from Latin American audiences – and the responses of its creative team are not helping to make matters any better.
Based on creator and executive producer Natalie Kline’s own life within an extensive, multicultural Mexican American family, Primos follows the adventures of Tater Ramirez Humphrey as she tries to get a long with her cousins, all of whom live under one roof in the Los Angeles-inspired city of Terremoto Heights.
“Primos is set in childhood summers spent with my cousins under one roof, and the comedy that’s borne from that wonderfully hectic setting,” Kline told Deadline in 2021. “As a kid, I didn’t see myself or my culture represented onscreen, so I’m excited to share my family dynamic through these new Disney characters and stories.”
On June 13th, Disney uploaded the animated family comedy’s theme song onto social media, ostensibly hoping to generate some interest in the series’ premiere. Instead, critics slammed Primos for its improper Spanish, stereotypical premise of a large Latino family living under one house, and the offensive names of the shows characters and city.
“Disney be like: All Latino América is México.” @NocturnAtuc declared. “And it’s like Los Angeles in the afternoon. And! And! They reproduce like rabbits! And live in the same house or very close to each other because… Because… Family! Also: it’s OIGAN primos. Oooooigan.”
“This is both racist and wrong!” @Relenita1 proclaimed. “‘Oye primos’ is the perfect example of Spanish spoken by someone who doesn’t know s–t.”
“‘Primos’ is plural while ‘Oye’ refers to singular,” they explained. “So it would be either ‘Oye primo!’ Or ‘Oigan primos!’ Another series to skip!
One particular sticking point for critics was the name of the series’ setting, Terremoto Heights, or Earthquake Heights in English, as Latin America has historically experienced a number of devastating earthquakes.
“Naming it ‘Terremoto Heights’ is as if Mexicans made a series about the US and named the town ‘September 11.'” @imthespecialk stated. “Perhaps most of you don’t know but both in 1985 and 2017 Mexico had two terremotos (earthquakes) in September 19 that collapsed entire cities killing hundreds of people.”
“Terremoto Heights???” questioned @yakayupyon. “Wow. Really? You guys are stupid or…? Mexico, Chile, Peru are the top 3 countries in Latin America suffering from quakes.”
“Losing lives, roofs, everything and you decide to use it to name a city?” they added. “You probably have yellow smoke in your brains.”
”Terremoto (earthquake) heights’ – That’s so insensitive Its almost as if us Mexicans made a series about USA and the protagonists lived in a place named ‘School shooting heights’ or something,” @TacoKabold added. “Literally too many people die and suffer from earthquakes here in Mexico this sucks.”
Not only does Primos contain improper Spanish grammar, racist stereotypes and the offensive city’s name, critics were quick to point out that the show also features a character – Cuquita – whose name was essentially a slang term for a woman’s genitalia.
“As a Mexican, what the f–k is this hot boiling molding stinky gross piece of garbage?” @itstime asked. “We got kids named fatty and p—-y, terremoto means earthquake. and the typical, ‘whole family lives in one house.’ Also what’s with the overbearing orange yellowish sky??”
“How to spot a show where not a single Latino worked on” @CatsDontDraw declared. “1 ‘Cuquita’ literally means “little p–sy”, it’s not an affectionate name of any kind and if you name a child like that, even as a nickname, they’d get bullied. 2 ‘Oye’ is ‘hey’ but in singular, plural is ‘Oigan.'”
“This is the most racist and stereotypical shit I have ever seen,” proclaimed @GAMEandRODO64. “Orange filter, The whole family living in one single poor household. Very bad Spanish, the correct grammar is “¡Oigan primos!”, The baby’s name is “Cuquita”, That means vagina in some Spanish speaking countries.”
“Heck, Victor and Valentino are way better than this,” they pointed out in a follow-up tweet. “Even [Nickelodeon’s Loud House spinoff] The Casagrandes handled the same gimmick way batter and most importantly, in a way less racist [way].”
Others still expressed frustrations towards Hollywood’s habit of only green-lighting projects depicting Mexican Americans living in California rather than any show based on any other ethnicity growing-up in their native country.
“As a Latin American artist and creator, I actually can’t believe they greenlight this kind of stuff while there’s tons of Latin American people with so many ideas for TV shows out there,” lamented @DrawzFrog. “I mean ‘oye primos’ doesn’t even make sense in language. Smh”
“Honestly I’m just so tired of Hollywood releasing ‘the Latino in USA’ experience shows and it’s just the same old “Mexican American family living in California in a big house” while completely ignoring A. Latino children growing in Latin America and B. Other Latino Americans living in the USA.”
“Hollywood knows there are other Latino Americans besides Mexican Americans in the USA right?” they further questioned. “And that Latino America is… there right????”
Eventually, this backlash would draw the attention of creator Nataline Kline, who in turn attempted to claim that use of the phrase “oye primos” in the show’s intro instead of grammatically correct “oigan primos” was intentional because the main protagonist Tater supposedly does not know how to speak Spanish.
“The main character, Tater, doesn’t speak Spanish,” Kline told Muse TV Network. “That’s why she says ‘oye primos,’ because it’s obviously wrong.”
Adding fuel to the ongoing social media backlash, Tater voice actress Myrna Velasco would simultaneously take to Instagram to double down on the the supposed intentionality of the series’ poor Spanish.
“The Spanish language is not a Latin American language,” Velasco proclaimed in a since-viral Instagram Reel. “It’s a language the Spanish conquistadors forced upon Latin American people. The only reason we’re Latin American people and not Native American people is because of that distinction.”
— Juan Aguilar (@JuanAgu21791447) June 14, 2023
“So be mad at me all you want for misspelling words in Spanish,” she then dismissed of the series’ critics. “Be mad at me all you want for mispronouncing words in Spanish. That doesn’t take away from the fact that I’m a Mexican American Native American woman.”
“We’re trying to make a good show for kids that feel left out,” Velasco concluded. “For kids that are different. For kids who don’t have a full grasp on any language no matter where they live. And if you’re going to be mad at that, I don’t know, be mad then.”
It seems Disney is aware of this backlash, as the House of Mouse has since removed the Primos theme song from all of its social media accounts save their Disney Branded TV PR official Twitter and Youtube pages.
Notably, as of this writing, the upload on the latter is currently sitting at over over 37k dislikes.
Primos is slated to drop on October 3rd on the Disney Channel.