VON ORMY—Reality shows have come to dominate television over the last decade. Soon an innovative and one-of-a-kind reality show will air set in Atascosa, Texas. "Texas Trocas" will premiere on September 15 on Discovery En Español. The show documents the Mendez family who operates the Texas Chrome Shop and Triple R Diesel at 16233 I-35 South in Atascosa, Texas. The family and the custom truck builds at their shop are the subjects of a new Spanish-language documentary-style show.
Raul Mendez, co-owner of Triple R Diesel and the Texas Chrome Shop, says each episode will show the transformation of a custom truck from start to finish. The other element of the show is the family’s interactions during the custom builds.
Texas Trocas presents the story of the Mendez, a successful Mexican American family in Atascosa, Texas, who specialize in converting old trucks into works of art. Each of the episodes shown from start to finish the work of this family and their team, as well as the daily life of a family that, with effort and perseverance, achieved the American dream.
Forty years ago that Raul Mendez Sr., the patriarch of the family, came to the United States from Mexico. He worked for years in the fields of South Texas, until he could save enough money to buy his own truck. After much effort, he managed to start his own transport business with his wife Lupita ("mere"). Years later, the new generation of Mendez, his sons Roland and Raul Jr., saw a great opportunity in personalized renovation and trucks, with their wives and Johann Lorraine, decided to expand the business. Thus was born one of the most respected companies in Texas, whose designs "trocas" have won awards and international attention. What began as a job to support the family is now a flourishing business from generation to generation.
Film crews were at the shop every day for about 6 months filming for the show. The first season will have eight episodes and will air on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. Central.
Texas Trocas anchors a series of automotive-themed reality series’ on Discovery en Español’s 2014/2015 lineup, other include Cromo Clandestino and Taller de Vaca
Discovery en Espanol has reorganized its schedule around specific themes based on results from an audience research studies. Three automotive-themed series will air on Discovery en Español. Texas Trocas follows the big-rig trucking business; Cromo clandestino (Chrome Underground) follows a pair of professional car hunters into lawless countries; and Taller de Vaca is an automotive refurbishing series.
As more networks emerge to cater to the growing U.S. Hispanic television market, there’s a need for unscripted content that reflects its bicultural reality, as well as Spanish-language programming that adds its own flavor to the general market’s reality genres.
Both scripted and unscripted shows in the general market rarely cast Hispanic actors, tackle their socioeconomic realities or reflect Latino culture. Networks are beginning to focus on this emerging market as Latinos are expected to comprise 31% of American TV viewers by 2060.
But despite some promising signs, TV insiders maintain that there are still serious barriers in place that prevent a thriving Hispanic reality show landscape.
“One of the most basic challenges is trying to enter into a programming slot where the audience is used to strip programming and where primetime is all telenovelas,” says Gabriela Cocco-Sanchez, VP of pioneering reality TV company BMP Productions. “So there aren’t a lot of opportunities to bring new properties, and you’re typically working with weekends, which is a very competitive landscape.”
At Discovery Channel, the move towards creating original docuseries for its two Spanish-language counterparts in the U.S. – Discovery en Español and Discovery Familia – is well underway.
Michela GiorelliMichela Giorelli vice president of production and development for Discovery Networks Latin America/U.S. Hispanic, oversees the production unit in charge of original programming for these markets.
She says that an initial focus on natural history and current affairs shows is being actively replaced with a push for docuseries and ob-docs because, much like the general market, Hispanic audiences are responding well to character-driven programming.
Texas is the network’s first docureality series. Meanwhile, a Mexico-set docureality series on a garage outside Guadalajara is currently in production for Discovery en Español.
Giorelli says the Spanish-language series will join a number of turbo-themed shows that have been rating well among audiences eager for local adaptations of popular U.S. general market programming.
“When you have local characters and local stories but still maintain the same production values that Discovery generally offers to the viewers, it’s a good recipe for success,” says Giorelli.
Looking ahead, whether networks are adapting shows for Hispanic audiences that meet general market standards, or producing English-language, Latin-themed content to attract all viewers, growing platforms will provide U.S. Hispanic casts and showrunners more opportunities to become household names, and improve the influence and visibility of Hispanic and Latin talent in the general market.
Reflecting on the changes afoot in the industry, Cocco-Sanchez assures that in the future, channel surfing is going to yield a more accurate – and eventually seamless – representation of Hispanic audiences in the U.S.
“As we move forward, we’ll start to see some of this talent just as talent versus necessarily Latino talent. It will be more that they just happen to have that background and they’re interesting,” says Cocco-Sanchez.