The Potential of Bordertown

From the opening line, “Hola Becky!”, it was clear Fox Television’s newest animation comedy, Bordertown, was going to do everything they could to confront both Mexican and American culture. To a large extent, they succeeded.

Bordertown is funny. No doubt about that. There was no lack of laughs throughout the entire piece. I’m a fan. But, at this point in the series, I would call Bordertown, easy funny.

Yes, I really think immigration reform needs to happen and I think immigrants are great contributors to America. And, I like to think I spend a good chunk of my day job trying to convince those who don’t agree with me to change their opinion.

As you can tell by the GOP frontrunner for president, things are going swimmingly for us. (Shakes head with profound sadness.)

But, I think the best satire punches up and down. And Bordertown doesn’t quite get there. Yet.

So far, they are doing a great job punching down at every white stereotype. Which, sadly, is funny and, well, easy funny.

For example, a white cop enforcing the Mexifornia version of SB 1070 asks, “”If you were born here, who won the WNBA championship last season?”

Or, any of a number of absurd things white border patrol agent, Bud Buckwald, utters. My favorite, “There is nothing worse than a Mexican with glasses.”

All funny. But, for the most part, easy funny.

Occasionally, they punch up at the higher moral ground immigrants (appropriately) hold.

In the opening minutes, landscaper (and Bud’s neighbor) Ernesto Gonzalez’s truck reads, “I will murder your grass and its family.” Well played. Very Breaking Bad.

The bit when Buck and Ernesto are in Mexico looking for Ernesto’s nephew, J.C., with the Virgin Mary appearing on a tortilla only to curse a skeptical J.C. with male pattern baldness was also solid.

And, the “Pimp my Buckle” commercial was classic. It also led me to wonder why, after working as an immigration advocate for many years, I’ve been looking to build a collection of belt buckles.

I guess you could say these were easy funny as well.

The Simpsons, Family Guy, all great satire (Lorne Michaels, you are no longer included), punches up and down. No one escapes their wrath. And, as a result, millions of us watch because we want to see who gets whacked. Us or them.

This is the potential of Bordertown. It can be begin to bridge cultures by making both sides uncomfortable with a truth. Because, in most cases, it is funny if there is some truth in it.

There is certainly the beginning of a solid story line, across a number of interesting characters. Will each character be confronted with a truth that will make us cringe with laughter? I hope so.

The fact is Bordertown is long overdue and saddled with high expectations. I hope it throws punches at all of us who care about the value of immigrants and immigration.

That is what will make it a success.


Originally published at ali-noorani.com on January 4, 2016.