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Series / Cristela

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Cristela (center), her family, and Alberto
Cristela is a sitcom that aired on ABC during the 2014-2015 TV season before being cancelled. It was created by, and starred, Cristela Alonzo as Cristela, a law student who's had to repeatedly put her studies on hold in order to work and make money to pay her own way through school. Cristela is finally close to earning her law degree and has landed an unpaid internship at a prestigious Dallas law firm.

Making things complicated for her is that Daniela, her sister, is urging her to give up on her dreams and to take any paying job while Felix, Daniela's husband, makes it abundantly clear that he doesn't like having Cristela living in his home for free. Natalia, Cristela's mother, merely wants her younger daughter to get married and give her more grandchildren and doesn't really understand why Cristela would want to become a lawyer.

Gabriel Iglesias has a recurring role as Alberto, Felix's cousin and Cristela's unwanted suitor.

The show is notable in that it is the first sitcom in American television history to have a Latina as its star.

This series contains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Cristela is extremely put off by Alberto's chauvinistic attempts to woo her.
  • As Himself: Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Mark Cuban guest stars as himself in one episode and is mistaken for a photocopier repairman by Josh.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Maddie is a vapid rich girl who operates under the belief that she'll get a job because her father will give her one. But she's also devious enough to properly mess with Josh's head because she was offended that he took a paying opportunity that Cristela needed.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Eduardo, Cristela and Daniela's brother, immediately puts Josh on notice once he realizes that Josh and Cristela have a connection. Alberto does the same but for different reasons.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Maddie comes off as a Dumb Blonde, but is shown early on to be somewhat competent lawyer (well, intern), and later admits that she purposely lowers peoples expectations of her so she won't have to put any effort into anything. She also passes the BAR exam.
  • Bumbling Dad: Felix is a loving and attentive father. It's just that Cristela, Daniela, and Natalia take care of all the day-to-day things for Izzy and Henry so Felix has no idea what to do when he has to step in and actually take care of the kids.
  • Crossover: Tim Allen and Hector Elizondo from Last Man Standing made a brief appearance in one episode that involved zoning problems regarding the Dallas branch of Outdoor Man.
  • Dumb Blonde: Maddie is only an intern at the law firm of Culpepper and Associates because her father is the Culpepper in the firm's name. Her father is fully aware that Maddie doesn't know much of anything and merely humors her intentions of becoming a lawyer.
    Culpepper: "Well, the world needs bad lawyers too."
  • Dull Surprise: Maddie tries to maintain a neutral expression based on the belief that facial expressions cause wrinkles.
  • Geek: Cristela loves science fiction classics like Doctor Who and Star Trek.
    Culpepper: "May the Force be with you."
    Cristela: "You know that's Star Wars, right?"
    Culpepper: "There's a difference?"
    Cristela: "Out of all the things you ever said to me, that was the most offensive."
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Alberto is introduced making crass comments towards Cristela to try and win her over. Yet, he still knows her well enough to set up a false dating profile that attracts her attention and while researching women's magazines and Cristela's interests, actually learned something from what he read and developed a genuine appreciation for Broadway musicals. It's enough that Cristela is willing to see him as a friend, although she's nowhere near close to seeing him in a romantic light. He's also familiar with the works of John Steinbeck.
    • Culpepper can read lips and had the office fitted with glass partitions rather than walls so that he can see what his employees are talking about.
  • I Want Grandkids: Natalia pushes Cristela to find a man and have children so she can have more grandchildren. Yet, she's also surprisingly accepting when she suspects that Cristela could be a lesbian.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Trent Culpepper, Cristela's boss, both knowingly and unknowingly, says some truly offensive things. In fact, half of what he says is guaranteed to get the studio audience groaning. But, Culpepper also appreciates the fact that Cristela worked hard to get as far as she has and hires her as an intern because of it.
      Culpepper: "What are of 12, 15 kids?"
      Studio audience groans
      Henry: "Cris! A lawyer's here!"
    • Felix can be chauvinistic and close-minded, but he does genuinely care about his kids and family. And Cristela. Sometimes.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Cristela and Felix have a conversation that turns into a meta commentary about the Real Life struggles Latinos face in the United States as well as the dearth of Latino lead characters on American television.
  • Moment Killer: Cristela has a habit of walking in whenever Daniela and Felix are about to get intimate, to Felix's intense displeasure.
    Felix: "Do you stand out there waiting for just the wrong moment?"
  • Noodle Incident: Many of Cristela's ancestors died in incidents involving donkeys. Natalia doesn't go into any more detail.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted in the case of the family's relatives. They have several by the name of "Pedro" each one distinguished by adding an adjective before their name like "Tiny" and "One Eye". "One Eye Pedro" eventually became known as "Blind Pedro".
    Cristela: "So many Pedros."
  • Self-Serving Memory: Natalia thinks fondly of being a singe mother raising two daughters when, in reality, the family struggled immensely.
    Natalia: "Your father never held me back!"
    Cristela: "He left when I was born!"
    Natalia: "And he left me free to do as I pleased!"
    Cristela: "So you wanted to be on food stamps and answer the door with a baseball bat?"
    Natalia: (Happily sighs) "Ay! Memories..."
  • Serious Business: Cristela and her family are passionate fans of the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas Mavericks which allows her to bond with Trent Culpepper, who is an equally passionate fan and is also personal friends with the teams' owners. Josh's ignorance of sports in general and Dallas teams in particular offends Culpepper so badly that Cristela has to step in to keep Josh from destroying his career before it can begin.
  • Ship Tease: The show makes clear that Cristela and Josh are very similar and the two share hesitatingly knowing looks.
  • Shout-Out: "Super Fan" takes plot elements from Cyrano de Bergerac and incorporates them into a modern law firm setting.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Cristela and Culpepper engage in it constantly with Culpepper taking digs at her ethnicity and gender and Cristela taking shots at his wealth and (seeming) ignorance. Cristela can get away with it because Culpepper is actually a lot softer than he lets on and because he appreciates how Cristela is his only employee who's willing to stand up to him.