I was wonderfully surprised by Cristela. It started off rough and I felt like my low expectations were being met during the first 20 seconds: Cristela walks in the room, her mother says something that’s not funny and the laugh track kicks in. It was a bad omen. I groaned aloud. I face palmed. But once it moved past forcing the first laugh, it legitimately made me crack up.
The character dynamics are on point; Cristela lives with her sister and brother-in-law, mother, and her niece (was there a nephew as well? I can’t remember). The mother was grumpy and old country, the brother-in-law hates Cristela, the sister is sexy and loves her family (clearly since she lets both her mother and her sister live in her house). Simple character traits that will define their relationships with each other and provide nice plotting.
Cristela, herself, is ambitious, but not easily so–it’s taken her six years so far to get through law school–but she’s in there and she’s not giving up. She likes sports (go Cowboys), makes friends with the adorable, inept Jewish fellow intern, and both stands up to but makes an effort to learn from her new (racist) boss. Which I hope they deal with a little better than they have so far, but they can’t squeeze everything into the pilot and most times in the world, you have to suck up people’s racism until you have the power to put them in their place–which she definitely doesn’t have yet.
The show is funny, so hopefully they don’t rely too much on forced laugh track gags like the very first one, and I think it has heart. Obviously it’s comparable to the George Lopez show, which I can’t remember well enough to really say if that’s going to help it or hinder it. The weakest part of the show was Gabriel Iglesias’ character—who seemed forced in because he’s a famous Latino comedian and who didn’t add anything to the show but weird sexual advances towards an uninterested Cristela. Hopefully they realize they don’t need his famous face.