Freeform’s Party of Five Review


Watch Party of Five on Wednesdays at 9 PM on Freeform.

Spoilers Ahead!

Freeform’s new show Party of Five, a remake of the original series from the 90’s, premiered with two episodes on January 8th. The original series is based on five siblings who are left orphaned after their parents die in a car accident, and the oldest brother becomes the guardian of his siblings. Freeform’s remake has the same premise with the oldest brother Emilio Acosta (Brandon Larracuente) named guardian of his four younger siblings, but the remake contains a controversial topic. 

The Acosta siblings: Emilio, Beto, Lucia, Valentina, and Raphael are left to fend for themselves because their parents were deported back to Mexico. The issue of illegal immigration and immigration reform has become a controversial issue, especially under the current presidential administration. Many may consider not watching Party of Five because they disagree with people who cross the border illegally, but this show is not intended to completely change the minds of viewers. Party of Five aims to represent the issues that many Latinos face in America and it places viewers in the shoes of a population of people that face so much scrutiny.

As a Latina, it is sometimes hard to feel represented in the television and movie industry. I am half Colombian and it is difficult to find a show on American TV that portrays Colombians as people who aren’t involved in drug cartels. Although the Acosta family is Mexican, Party of Five displays the societal issues I care about the most. Educating others about the experiences of immigrants and children of immigrants is vital in today’s society. Immigrants enrich the nation, and a person can’t form an opinion about a controversial issue unless he or she is educated about the issue at hand. 

The first episode of Party of Five opens with youngest daughter Valentina (Elle Paris Legaspi) eating dinner with her parents and her baby brother, Raphael, at their family’s restaurant. The dinner is suddenly interrupted as Immigration Customs Enforcement enters. The whole restaurant watches as Javier Acosta (Bruno Bichir) and Gloria Acosta (Fernanda Urrejola) are handcuffed and Gloria must hand over her baby to an employee. The scene ends with the cries of twelve-year-old Valentina begging for her parents not to be taken away. This scene can easily break the hearts of viewers as they witness a young girl’s life ripped apart. 

The episode jumps to six weeks later. The Acosta siblings are struggling to keep the household running smoothly as they await their parent’s court hearing. Oldest brother Emilio hires the best immigration lawyer in the Los Angeles area and Valentina gives a heartbreaking testimony pleading to the judge to reconsider her parent’s arrest. Legaspi’s performance in this scene does an amazing job of putting viewers in the shoes of a young girl who is trying to fight for the last thing she has left. The judge decides to deport Javier and Gloria Acosta to Mexico. With one hit of a gavel, the Acosta family is torn apart. 

The first episode of Party of Five has many emotional scenes, but the scene that stays with viewers the most is when the Acosta siblings are forced to say goodbye to their parents in the detention center. A guard blows a whistle and all five siblings must say bye to their parents, not knowing when they will see them again. Before anyone forms an opinion about illegal immigrants being deported, he or she must watch this scene. Valentina is wailing as she clings to her parent’s hands through a metal gate. Lucia (Emily Tosta) is yelling, confused about how a country could do something so wrong to good people. A mother is ripped from her children telling them with teary eyes that they must stick together. 

One of the executive producers of the show, Rodrigo García is Colombian, and Latinx writers were hired to accurately depict the experiences immigrants face. Also, Emilio is a Dreamer having crossed the border as a minor, and his character represents the experiences of around 700,000 people in the U.S who are protected under DACA.  

The Acosta siblings make ends meet by running their family’s restaurant. They are forced to learn about the restaurant industry because that is their main source of income. Their economic struggles depict the responsibilities many families who experience deportation must take on. The economic responsibility is now put on children, who are forced to grow up way too quickly. 

Executive producer, Amy Lippman aims to tell a story about a family who sticks together despite hardships, not to force a political view on others. 

“We don’t actually mention the current administration once. My obligation is to tell a story about a family that draws an audience in,” Lippman said in an interview on NPR’s All Things Considered.

Each character is lovable in their own way and the growth each character experiences through hardship ultimately draws in viewers. Emilio was somewhat immature with his only responsibility being his band, and he transforms into a family man who will do anything for his siblings. Viewers also witness Beto (Niko Guardado) take on somewhat of a fatherly role. Even though he is struggling academically, he stays up late to comfort Valentina who has nightmares from PTSD. Lucia is at first angry at the world for ripping her life apart but realizes that she still has her siblings in her life who love her unconditionally. 

To not completely sadden viewers, the show contains romance and some laughable moments between characters. The importance of family is a value deeply rooted in Latino culture, and Party of Five reminds me of the closeness I have with my family. The show features inspirational characters that find support in family. The individuality of each character will hopefully help viewers see themselves and lead to more seasons.