more like an American soap opera, complete with extramarital affairs and money laundering scandals. These two programs tell very different stories of what it means to be Latina in the United States, and the character of Gloria Pritchett fits somewhere in the middle of the two. The prime difference between Gloria and Betty from Ugly Betty and Gabrielle from Desperate Housewives is that Goria is a first-generation American. Although her age of immigration reason for coming to the United States are never 18 Isabel Guzmán and Angharad Valdivia, “Brain, Brow, and Booty: Latina Iconicity in U.S. Popular Culture,” The Communication Review, 7(2004): 205-219.
Misner 11 explicitly stated, “in my village in Colombia” has become a catchphrase of sorts that Gloria uses to assert her ethnic difference, of which I will speak more later. Therefore, she expresses her Latinidad , or Latin-ness, in different ways with different American (both North and South) experiences. In the pilot episode of Modern Family, each couple is introduced through a documentary style interview (with a silent interviewer) that ends up continuing throughout the series. It is at this moment that the viewers learn Gloria is married to Jay Pritchett, the graying patriarchy of the whole family, and that she is from a village in Colombia, presumably chosen because the actress Sofia Vergara is Colombian. Although the show never specifies when or why she immigrated to the United States, she mentions having an ex-husband with whom she would passionately fight. Throughout the first three seasons to which I limit my analysis, her character remains relatively static, although she gives birth to a son at the end of season three. It could be tempting to toss Sofía Vergara’s character Gloria into a pit of “hot Latina” representations that have made their way onto television, especially within the last 10 years. However, she deserves more understanding than that because of the way she express her Latinidad. Debra Merskin looks at Eva Longoria’s character in Desperate Housewives as the absolute epitome of the hot Latina archetype. She argues, and rightfully so, that these characteristics are reductive and that “Latina tropicalism erases difference between specific Latino groups and conflates cultures into a single pan- Latino/a identity.” 19 Aesthetically, Desperate Housewives ’ Gabrielle Solis and Gloria 19 Merskin, “Three Faces of Eva,” 139.
Misner 12 Pritchett appear very similar. The tight clothes that show off an almost caricature-like curvaceous physique are matched with the same voluminous hairstyles and dark makeup. In many ways, Gloria embodies the “Cantina Girl,” a third of G.D. Keller’s “tripartite typology of Latina stereotypes,” 20 which he describes as having “great sexual allure.” Her physicality throughout the show may not always be completely graceful, but she often dances to Latin music and enjoys wearing what some would call over-the-top clothing.
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- Gloria, Desperate Housewives, Modern Family, Jillian Misner, Manny Delgado