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Saturday, June 25, 2022

Diana Maria Riva in the 80s comedy The Chronicles of Gordita

Diana Maria Riva, who grew up in Cincinnati, said she could identify with Adela Castelli, the boisterous Dominican wife and mother she plays in The Chronicles of Gordita, a new HBO Max sitcom.

“She ringed true with the women in my family” Riva told The Post. “I’m Hispanic, my mother is from the Dominican Republic, I’m first generation… there were things that resonated with me about this type of woman and what she stands for… when it comes to family and a supportive family.

“So it wasn’t hard for me to get in touch with her.”

The Chronicles of Gordita, which premieres on June 23, revolves around the Castelli family: husband and wife Victor (Juan Javier Cárdenas) and Adela, and their daughters: the precocious 12-year-old Cucu (Olivia Gonçalves) – cutely nicknamed ” Proud.” (“chubby”) – and her older sister Emilia (Savannah Nicole Ruiz), who is very into American pop culture (including Tiger Beat magazine). In 1985, the Castellis move from the Dominican Republic to Miami after Victor takes a job as vice president of marketing for an airline.

Olivia Gonsalves as Kuku.
Laura T. Magruder/HBO Max
Savannah Nicole Ruiz As Emilia.
Savannah Nicole Ruiz as Emilia.
Laura T. Magruder/HBO Max

They are in for a culture shock of seismic proportions, narrated by adult Kuku (Dasha Polanco) as she reminisces about her life and her family.

The 10-episode series is partly based on the life of the writer/creator/co-producer. Claudia Forestieri (Selena: The Series), executive produced by Zoe Saldanha and Eva Longoria (who was in charge of the pilot). It uses a light comedic undertone to highlight the realities each family member faces (micro-violent racism, high school peer pressure) as they begin their new lives pursuing the “American Dream”.

“There are shows meant to teach a lesson or enlighten; it’s… fun and comedic, but there’s a very universal element that [Forestieri] wanted to make sure it worked out,” said Riva, who also co-stars in Dead to Me on Netflix. “Whether you’re Dominican, Italian or Jewish, whether you’re first or fifth generation, haven’t we all had a chapter in our lives when we start something new and that’s due to our fears and vulnerabilities ?

“What do we see [in ‘Gordita Chronicles’] all of us in the family are trying to find our place in this new world… about trying to fit in. It’s what makes a show successful when you don’t shut people out, but allow them to be part of that journey, relate to it in one way or another – maybe not with the details of the story, but [with] emotion”.

Fashion, hairstyles and mores of the 80s act as uncredited partners of the show: Mr. Coffee, Grape Nuts cereal, Michael Jackson, Teen Wolf, pagers and Gloria Estefan all find their place in the storyline.

Juan Javier Cardenas And Diana Maria Riva As Victor And Adela, Dressed As Characters From &Quot;Lubricant&Quot; At Their Daughters' School Dances.
Juan Javier Cárdenas and Diana Maria Riva as Victor and Adela, dressed as characters from Grease, at their daughters’ school prom.
Lara Solanki/HBO Max

“They did a great job with the subtlety of the 80s instead of indulging in big, obvious, loud jokes,” Riva said. “Our production designer [Amy Lee Wheeler] did such a great job bringing authentic items to the set. When Olivia, who plays Cook, had to dial a number on the rotary phone, it took her about 10 minutes because, like a good little actress, she decided to use her real number.

“Savannah, who plays Emilia, came out one day with this metal chain that was wrapped around her hips twice, like we did, and she just looks down and looks at me with her hands up and deadpan, “I don’t get it? Why wrap twice?

“For anyone who grew up in that era, you will have the best time of your life with this throwback; if not, you will just watch and laugh at what we call style and the things we did for fun and not with a cell phone or a computer,” she said. “I put on clothes and thought: “How did we wear this?” Basically, it was a pillowcase with a strap around it. I don’t know how anyone found it flattering. There is an episode where [Adela] enjoys jazz and training – sometimes it’s crazy, but at the same time very funny.

World Nation News Desk
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