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Series / Party of Five (2020)

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The family that tries.

Party of Five is a teen/family drama series that aired on Freeform. It is a reboot of the 1994 series of the same name, albeit featuring a brand new cast.

When their parents are rounded up for deportation, Emilio, Lucia, Beto, Valentina, and Rafa find themselves staring down the prospect of being separated by child services. Hoping to keep them together, Emilio puts his dreams of being a professional musician on hold in order to care for his younger siblings.

The series premiered on January 8, 2020, and was cancelled three months later after one 10-episode season due to low viewership.

This series contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: In addition to the stress of trying to maintain a family while their parents are in Mexico and the fear of being separated by child services, the Acosta kids also have to contend with the prospect that Emilio could be deported, too, if his DACA status is revoked.
  • Adaptational Location Change: The original was set in San Francisco while the reboot was set in Los Angeles.
  • The Beard: In the first season finale, Lucia hooks up with a boy in Mexico to try and convince herself that she's straight.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Emilio develops some tension with Natalia, the new au pair.
  • Big Brother Instinct: It takes a while to kick in, but when Beto gets in trouble, Emilio has his back.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The first season ends with Val and Rafa staying in Mexico. For Val and Rafa, it's a happy ending, at they are reunited with their parents but poor Emilio is gutted. On the other hand, Emilio and Natalia hook up and win a spot in the songwriting contest.
  • Book Dumb: Beto is terrible with anything that requires reading, but he has a surprisingly good understanding of psychology, enabling him to keep up with Vanessa. He is also apparently an excellent driver.
    Ella: You have unsuspected depth for a man in a ridiculous poncho.
  • The Casanova: Emilio is a consummate ladies' man. He uses this to his advantage in "Rafa" in order to convince a nurse to give his baby brother another vitals check.
  • The Chains of Commanding: It doesn't take long for the pressure of caring for his family to get to Emilio.
  • Child Prodigy: Valentina in seventh grade is in a ninth-grade math class.
  • Closet Key: Sully causes Lucia to realize that she's attracted to women.
  • Control Freak: Javier can't stand not being in control of everything. Early in his exile, he drives Emilio nuts by still trying to manage the restaurant from Mexico. In "Mexico", it turns out he and Gloria are hitting a rough patch because his control-freak tendencies are becoming more apparent to her now that she no longer has kids to keep her busy.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • Matthew ran away from home and has been living on the street for a while. Prior to that, he had to deal with abusive parents who refused to recognize him as a boy.
    • Ella spent some time in a mental hospital after her parents' very ugly divorce.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: At least part of Ella's attraction to Beto is the knowledge that it pisses off her dad.
  • False Friend: In "Long Distance", Emilio has to contend with "Uncle" Louie, a family friend who turns out to have been ripping Javier off for nearly two decades.
  • Forbidden Fruit: In "Authentic Mexican", Beto hooks up with Ella, the granddaughter of a woman who hired Emilio to serve as a caterer. It costs them the gig, but Beto ends up dating Ella.
  • Fright-Induced Bunkmate: In the second episode, Val crawls into bed with Beto because her anxiety is preventing her from getting sleep. This becomes a recurring issue, and it starts to affect Beto's own ability to sleep.
  • The Gambling Addict: In the second episode, Emilio deals with the prospect that one of the restaurant's longtime employees has been stealing from him to pay off gambling debts. It later turns out that the money was being siphoned off by Gloria to help Emilio while he was living on his own.
  • Gaydar: Lucia's mom very quickly discerns that she's into women after just a single slip of the tongue, due to her speaking about Sully before in a worshipful way.
  • Gayngst: Lucia feels significant anxiety over her attraction to other women, and struggles with it throughout the series.
  • Gotta Pass the Class: Beto desperately needs to get his grades up in order to avoid having to go to summer school, as he wants to be available to help work at the family restaurant. Unfortunately, Lucia proposes to give him the test answers for one of his classes... which backfires when she's unable to make the hand-off, leaving him to his own devices. Afterwards, she promises to help him study for all the other tests.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Beto does not take it well when he finds out that Emilio is dating Vanessa.
  • Honorary Uncle: "Uncle" Louie, the owner of the restaurant across the street, has been close to the Acosta family for years.
  • Junkie Parent: Ella's mother is addicted to painkillers, as her way of dealing with her husband dumping her for a younger woman.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Teresa is quite feminine, and casually involved with another women. Although slightly tomboyish in her interests Lucia may be another example as her look is otherwise feminine and she's attracted to Teresa. However, she's struggling with it.
  • "L" Is for "Dyslexia": While it's not named, Beto complains that any writing looks foreign to him, regardless of whether it's English or Spanish, which suggests that he may be dyslexic.
  • The Millstone: Valentina's constant emotional issues keep upending her older siblings' efforts to re-establish some sense of normalcy.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Natalia has a sheet covering her breasts the morning after she sleeps with Emilio.
  • Naturalized Name: Val adopts the name "Amanda Davis" in order to join a dancing group. When the other dancers learn about her deception, they block her from the group... because she "borrowed" the name from the little girl whose parents hired Gloria.
  • Open-Minded Parent:
    • Ella's mother Margaux offers to let Ella and Beto sleep in the master bed together.
    • Gloria promises to Lucia that she'll always love her, in spite of being taught homosexuality is wrong, as she's her child no matter what.
  • Parental Abandonment: The kids' parents have been deported to Mexico.
  • Prodigal Hero: Emilio was living on his own for some years before he was forced to move back home to care for his siblings.
  • Promoted to Parent: Emilio finds himself forced to take care of his younger siblings after their parents are deported.
  • Properly Paranoid:
    • Emilio is a DACA recipient whose ability to stay in the United States could be rescinded if he loses the family restaurant or loses custody of his younger siblings. Consequently, he spends a lot of time worrying about his family and trying to keep them out of trouble.
    • Matthew is an undocumented transgender young man who can't apply for DACA status because he'd have to reveal his birth name and risk his estranged parents, who want him to de-transition, finding him again. Consequently, he uses a stolen social security number and jealously guards any information about his identity.
  • Race Lift: The all-white Salinger family from the 90's series becomes the all-Latino Acosta family in the reboot.
  • Really Gets Around: Before he had to take over the family, Emilio had a bunch of girlfriends simultaneously. He still gets with four women over the course of the first season alone after this.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Andrew Nichols, the caseworker assigned to monitor the family, is upfront with Emilio that he is under investigation for negligence and may lose custody of his siblings. However, Nichols also makes it clear that he's willing to work with Emilio to help him maintain custody.
  • The Reveal:
    • The true reason why Matthew doesn't want to apply for DACA status is because he's transgender and his birth certificate identifies him as a girl.
    • "Mexico" reveals that Javier and Gloria are contemplating separating, because without the kids tying her down, she's no longer sure that she loves Javier.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The series draws heavily on recent events in the American immigration system, with the kids' parents being captured by ICE in the first episode and Emilio being mentioned as being a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient.
  • Ruder and Cruder: The original Party of Five aired on a broadcast network, and thus subject to relatively strict rules about sex and profanity. The 2020 reboot, on the other hand, airs on Freeform, which is a cable network, and thus is allowed to get away with more overt sexuality and swearing.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!:
    • A major theme of the series is that sometimes, you have to bend the rules in order to survive.
    • In "Authentic Mexican", Emilio chooses to walk away from a lucrative catering gig rather than humiliate Beto for the sake of a racist client.
  • Self-Made Man: Invoked as Emilio talks of living up to Javier's legacy as someone who came to America with nothing and becoming a success totally on his own. Natalia just gives a speech on how Emilio is deluding himself.
    Natalia: No one comes to this country with nothing and single-handedly builds up the life he made here. I mean, fifty dollars? How long does that last them, a few days maybe? What happened is, they met a man who knew a man who loaned them some cash. And his cousin let them sleep on their pull-out sofa. And her husband was a house painter who needed an extra guy for his crew and gave your father a job. Because that's what immigrants do...They take the hand that's offered and then they reach back and extend their own. And they know there's no shame in it.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Lucia likes to argue with authority figures, much to her siblings' consternation. Emilio later puts this to good use, putting Lucia in charge of helping the restaurant's staff with their various legal and financial issues.
  • Team Mom: Beto is a rare male example; he handles all the emotional labor in the family, making sure the laundry and dishes get done and that the younger kids get to bed on time.
  • Tomboy: Lucia loves working on cars and hates cooking.
    Valentina: Maybe something got mixed up in the womb and Beto got all the girl qualities and [Lucia] got the boy ones.
  • Tragic Dream: Emilio's dreams of becoming a professional musician go up in smoke when his parents are deported, leaving him in charge of his minor siblings and the family restaurant.
  • Trans Tribulations: Matthew's parents reject his identity and want him to de-transition. As a result, he's left home and won't apply for DACA because it would require using his birth certificate that lists him as female.
  • Twofer Token Minority:
    • Lucia's boss Teresa is a black Latina lesbian, making her a threefer.
    • Matthew is a transgender Latino man.
  • Wanted a Gender-Conforming Child: Matthew relates to Lucia that his mother was always unhappy with how he dressed as a child (it was too masculine for her) and since his gender transition his parents both oppose it.
  • Working with the Ex: In "Authentic Mexican", Emilio is reluctantly forced to bring in his high-school crush Lauren to help the family cater a party. It gets awkward and ultimately causes him to rethink his relationship with Vanessa.