Gente-fied: Netflix Series That Touches on the Subject of Gentrification


Kasia Jackson, Reporter

First of all, what is gentrification? By definition, gentrification is “the character of a poor urban area is changed by wealthier people moving in, improving housing, and attracting new businesses, typically displacing current inhabitants in the process,” according to Oxford Languages. This topic becomes the main premise of the series.

Gente-fied has two seasons and it takes place in Boyle Heights, a neighborhood in Los Angeles. This neighborhood is predominately Latinx but suffers from the effects of gentrification. In the 1st season, one of the main characters, Casimiro Morales, is an owner of a restaurant called Mama Fina’s, a family business that is a hang-out spot for members in the community. Casimiro has strong ties to this restaurant because he and his wife –who has passed– created this business together. Morales has trouble keeping this business afloat with rent skyrocketing due to gentrifiers; his grandkids come together to help save Mama Fina’s.  Chris Morales, who is the family “sellout,” tries to promote Mama Fina’s to gentrifier individuals to produce more revenue for the shop. Many people in Boyle Heights are in protest of such advertising and fear for the future of their community.

Another character, Ana Morales, a cousin of Chris, also becomes a victim of exploitation by those who are trying to revamp the community with her art pieces. Tim, a promoter of her art, makes a point to say that Ana is poor, queer, etc. Tim uses this as a tactic to have the buyers be more sympathetic to her and be more willing to make such purchases. When Ana meets Vivian, a woman infatuated with Ana’s art, she realizes the trap –gentrification– because Vivian requests Ana to create paintings for the new shop she bought, which is technically Mama Fina’s establishment. Ana acts in rebellion and sprays paints “raza not for sale.” This says “my race is not for sale,” meaning, wanting to end such exploitation that was used for the financial benefit of Tim, Vivian, and others.

In the second season, Casimiro ends up losing Mama Fina’s. This Netflix series puts a realistic approach on issues that actually takes place such as gentrification and causing people to lose their businesses, and sometimes their homes. It was able to display the importance of supporting the community and sticking together as family. It even touches on aspects of deportation and what it is like for the families to witness such mishap.

Although gentrification is a main topic in the series, that’s not all it’s about. There are definitely some entertaining moments within the series that are worth checking out. You are able to view the cultural and societal aspects of being Latinx in America.