In the 20 years since the premiere of “George Lopez,” the groundbreaking Latino-led series has never been off the air, living on in syndication and through NBC’s new series “Lopez vs. Lopez,” which follows along in its tradition while also forging its own path.
In the freshman comedy’s Christmas-themed episode, Mayan and George Lopez (who play versions of themselves as a daughter-father duo) excavate familial conflicts and generational divides, navigating and healing their relationship as parent and adult child. With the backdrop of Nochebuena, there’s also a “reunion” within the extended family, portrayed by “George Lopez” OGs Constance Marie, Valente Rodriguez, Belita Moreno and Luis Armand Garcia, who guest star.
“We would have loved to have a reboot, but there are just some things internally that just don’t make it possible,” Mayan Lopez told TheWrap. “And so in a way, we were like, ‘We want to pay homage to The George Lopez Show.’ Also there’s a full circle moment for not only myself, but for my dad as well. It was one of the first Latinx shows, with a whole Latin cast and to think of where it is now — that started over 20 years ago and to where now we’re doing it together.”
Mayan likens the series to a “torch being [passed]” onto a new generation of watchers, who may discover “George Lopez” on Peacock, where it is currently streaming. It’s also a token of appreciation for the viewers from her father’s generation, with the actress-producer saying that the guest stars may return in future episodes.
“I think with this show, it was really a no-brainer of if everyone’s available, we got to do this for not only ourselves, but for the fans, the people that have loved this show for so many years and have listened with their families,” she said. “And that’s also generational, and also being able to introduce a whole new era, a whole new generation to the original show … Being able to have them all together was really beautiful.”
The episode, titled “Lopez vs. Christmas” finds Mayan pleading with her divorced parents to put aside their differences to spend Christmas Eve together. Drawing from some of her own experiences, the star said the show hit close to home in many ways.
“It’s interesting, doing that episode where life imitated art in a way — I kind of got jealous of my character because my character got to have both of her parents there for Christmas,” Mayan explained. “And I see my dad around a Christmas tree and I almost got emotional because that’s when I had to go into my character Mayan; I couldn’t be myself in those moments because I would just see him be near a Christmas tree and I would start to cry. Those were the moments where I’m like, ‘OK, no, leave that little girl, [she] can go to her room. She’s there. You’re validating her, but no, we’re a woman now, we can visit those places and make it very real and authentic.’”
She added, “It got very real for me and to have the family there, it was just a beautiful moment. It was a very emotional week, but it’s one of my favorite episodes.”
With a full season order from NBC, Mayan Lopez teased upcoming episodes featuring Latinx trailblazers like Cheech Marin and Rita Moreno, as well as installments that delve into topics like gender equality and cultural appropriation.
She recalled a story her father liked to recount about the making of “George Lopez,” where the set designers were trying to make overt that series’ Latinidad, with the addition of a tortilla press and chilis in the kitchen.
“My dad was like, ‘What is all this?’ And [they’re] like, ‘Well, how are they going to know if it’s a Latin kitchen?’ He’s like, ‘How about the Latinos in the kitchen?’ That’s what I always think about when we’re making the show is, ‘Yes, it’s very specific to our culture,’ but we’re just family and families deal with generational [issues] and reconnection and healing,” Mayan said.