The Washington Post

‘BORDERTOWN’: Lalo Alcaraz on joining Seth MacFarlane’s new Fox immigration comedy

HAVING THE name “Seth MacFarlane” attached to an animated show about immigration already had some pop-culture watchers on high alert.

A new name on the project, though, seems to have assuaged some concerns.

Lalo Alcaraz, the commentator and creator of the syndicated, sociopolitically themed strip “La Cucaracha,” has been announced as a writer on the show “Bordertown,” which is set to debut next fall on Fox.

Now there’s a distinct ray of hope that even if the show takes satiric swipes at immigrants, those one-liners will be just one part of an equal-opportunity comedy.

“Everybody gets poked fun at in ‘Bordertown,’ “ Alcaraz tells Comic Riffs, “but its main focus is the changing world around the modern-day Archie Bunker, put-upon character, [Border Patrol agent] Bud Buckwald -- and his relationship with his neighbor, the unflappable and optimistic Mexican immigrant character, Ernesto Gonzalez.”

"Bordertown’s” lead characters include Archie Bunker-like Border Patrol agent Bud Buckwald and his unflappable Mexican-immigrant neighbor, Ernesto Gonzalez. (Created by SETH MacFARLANE/Courtesy of FOX TV)

“Bordertown” is set in a fictitious Texas town near the U.S.-Mexico border. And if the cast of characters was going to be diverse, then it made sense to have the writers’ room reflect that.

“The writers’ room is actually pretty diverse, and we are focused on doing political and social satire with some meaning,” says Alcaraz, a California native of Mexican American descent. He is a vocal commentator on issues concerning Latinos, largely through both his comic strip, which became syndicated in 2002, and his L.A.-area radio show, "Pocho Hour of Power.”

[LALO ALCARAZ: On creating Occupy Art]

So how did Alcaraz — author of the upcoming book “Imperfect Union” (Basic Books) — become involved?

“I was called in by creator Mark Hentemann, who was looking for diverse writers for ‘Bordertown,’ “ says Alcaraz, who has noted that four of the show’s dozen writers or so are Mexican American. “He had read in Gustavo Arellano's ‘Ask A Mexican’ book that I was known to be a somewhat funny fellow.”

[LALO ALCARAZ: On caricaturing Mitt Romney]

As a fan of MacFarlane’s “Family Guy,” Alcaraz has a sense of what he’s in for. He’s only several days into the job, however — what will he do the first time he thinks a stereotype in the script crosses the line?

“I don’t know,” Alcaraz jokes. “Pray for me.”

Writer/artist/visual storyteller Michael Cavna is creator of the "Comic Riffs" column and graphic-novel reviewer for The Post's Book World. He relishes sharp-eyed satire in most any form.


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