The new and highly anticipated drama, Party of Five, premiered this week on Freeform. This modern retelling of the 1994 Fox series created by Amy Lippman and Christopher Keyser pays homage to the original show in the central plot of five siblings left to care for one another. Instead of losing their parents in a car accident, this version sees the Acosta siblings lose their parents to deportation. Javier and Gloria Acosta have been living in Los Angeles for 23 years, have five children and successfully run a restaurant they built from the ground up. After being detained and going through the arduous hearing process, the Acosta family loses their case. The scene in which their kids, ages ranging from 24 to 1, have to say goodbye to them is one of the most heartbreaking television moments this year.
In the two-hour premiere we meet Emilio (Brandon Larracuente), the oldest of the siblings who has to put his music career on hold in order to run his family’s business and take care of his brothers and sisters. Lucia’s (Emily Tosta) anger at the world and at the system that has torn her family apart leaves her unable to find a way to deal with this life altering loss. Beto’s (Niko Guardado) struggles in academics become an even bigger burden to carry when he realizes his grades will determine whether or not social services try to separate their already divided family. Valentina (Elle Paris Legaspi) has been so traumatized by witnessing her parents’ arrest and having to say goodbye to them that she hasn’t stopped having nightmares. And all of the siblings struggle to raise their baby brother, none of them ever expecting or prepared to become parents to a one-year-old child.
Party of Five is a revolutionary show. It is not, by a long shot, the first or the only show to tackle immigration status and deportation; it is, however, one of the few to take on the task of showing the world the truth of how deportation affects the families left behind and what life after deportation looks like. This is both an incredibly personal and political statement for a show to make. In the two-hour premiere it took an honest look into the lives of the Acosta siblings and what the lives of other families dealing with the aftermath of deportation might look like, it addressed how trauma may manifest for children of immigrants and the parentification process so many of them have to endure. The show dove, headfirst, into the complicated immigration system in our country, the consequences of which affect those who deserve it the least.
While a divided country may argue over choices and laws, there are real people and lives being forever changed on the other side of those arguments. The choice to reflect these people and their lives on a television show is a monumental one to make. Seeing how the decisions made by those in power affect families, families just like ours, might begin to grant immigrants the humanity they have always deserved.
Watch TheYoungFolks.com’s interview with the cast of Party of Five.