Thirty-six-year-old Cristela Alonzo was the first Latina to create, produce, write, and star in her own prime-time comedy, ABC’s Cristela. The semiautobiographical, multi-camera sitcom received middling reviews initially, but critics warmed up to it over time. Meanwhile, with her boisterous laugh (which she’ll put to good use in the upcoming Angry Birds movie) and wry take on Latino life, Alonzo brought in around 5 million viewers each week.
Still, the show didn’t perform as well as hoped and is likely being canceled (to the disappointment of many). While sitting on a plane on Friday night (right before the season finale ran), Alonzo wrote a personal, poignant open letter to the supporters of Cristela. Here are the most relevant moments:
Hi! It’s April 17, 2015 and I find myself sitting in the middle seat of a full Southwest flight on my way to Nashville. Tonight at 8:30/7:30 PM, ABC will show the season (and possibly series) finale of a sitcom that I put my heart and soul into.
Cristela isn’t a flashy show. It’s not a slick single-cam that looks like it’s a movie shot on a weekly basis, it doesn’t have voiceovers telling you thoughts the characters are currently having and it certainly doesn’t use crass and edgy things to tell its stories. That was my choice to not do any of those things. I wanted to take a harder path, a path that really isn’t taken on TV anymore. I wanted to make a TV show like the kind I grew up with, the kind that looked like a play, the kind that made the live studio audience we tape in front of, just as important as the cast because they are as important.
[Responding to the criticism that “Not all Latino Families Are Like That.”] You’re right. They’re not. That’s why the show is called “Cristela” and not “Every Latino Family,” even though it has a better ring to it… Roseanne Barr played a mom on her TV show and I never hear people say, “HEY! Not ALL mothers are like that!”
I’m a real person and this show is about real people. We might not be telling your life story but we are telling stories that a lot of people can relate to.
If you had told me when I was a starving little girl, squatting in an abandoned diner with her family, (hoping to one day have a bathroom with plumbing that worked) that I would grow up to become a woman with a sitcom named after her, I would’ve said, “That’s really nice of you to say but right now, I’m worried about finding food to eat.”
Alonzo is an incredibly talented lead. She brings to Cristela what Roseanne Barr or Tim Allen brought to Roseanne and Home Improvement, respectively. Let’s hope she gets the chance to return next season.