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George Lopez tackles sobriety, family dynamics in ‘Lopez vs. Lopez’ Season 2

NBC’s TV comedy “Lopez vs. Lopez” has taken on many complex issues affecting real American families — bankruptcy, divorce, alcoholism, mental illness, forgiveness and reconciliation. Season two kicks off Tuesday with George Lopez challenging his family to give up their own addictions.

“What you can expect is watching what happens when a sober George tries to maintain his sobriety, what that does to the family dynamic, what that means to Mayan’s [his daughter’s] relationship with him, how that trickles down to all of us,” said Selenis Leyva, who plays George’s ex-wife, Rosie, in a video interview with NBC News. “I can say that sometimes we think we don’t want something— until there is danger of it being taken away.” 

Stand-up comedian and actor George Lopez stars in “Lopez vs. Lopez” with his real-life daughter, Mayan. They play fictionalized characters of themselves, with a cast that includes Leyva, Matt Shively (Mayan’s live-in boyfriend) and Al Madrigal (George’s employee Oscar). 

Season one also featured Cheech Marin as a recurring character, and guest appearances by Rita Moreno, Harvey Guillén, Danny Trejo, Tommy Chong and Snoop Dogg, among other stars. 

Leyva said that it’s important to put the primetime spotlight on a Latino family to show mainstream viewers how they have many things in common and also to represent the diversity of America.

“I am a representation of a lot of different types of women,” Leyva said, referring to her character. “I’m a representation of Afro Latinidad. I’m a representation of what a real woman looks like. I’m a representation of women over 40 and being able to show that we are still relevant, that we still have voices, that we still can be funny and that we could be strong.”

‘Exes don’t have to hate each other’

Leyva also pointed out that “Lopez vs. Lopez” is pushing the traditional limits of how divorced families interact with each other on TV.

George Lopez and Selenis Leyva on “Lopez vs. Lopez.”Nicole Weingart / NBC

“I love being part of the story that exes don’t have to hate each other. We could have civil relationships and we can have forgiveness in our lives,” she said. 

But Leyva is also mindful that “Lopez vs. Lopez” still has a lot of ground to tackle other important issues. At the top of her list, she said, she would like to shine the spotlight on racism within the Latino community.

“For me, being an Afro Latina, I have found myself having to educate people in my own community of what it is to have Afro in us,” she said. “We’re quick to just talk about the Spaniard in us, but not so much to embrace our Blackness.”

According to Leyva, who is of mixed Cuban and Dominican heritage and was raised among Puerto Ricans and Mexicans in the Bronx, New York, people including Latinos can have “preconceived ideas” of different groups, such as what it is to be Dominican or Mexican, as well as of other backgrounds.

Leyva said she’d like to call attention to another identity issue, and that is transgender rights. In 2020, she co-authored “My Sister,” a memoir with her transgender sister Marizol Leyva in English and Spanish. Leyva said that she wanted to use her celebrity fame to help Marizol gain visibility and show readers what it’s like to live as a transgender woman.

“It is very important that people see that this is not easy,” she said, referring to the challenges that Marizol faced. “I would like to bring this story to the big screen. It is one of the goals that I have in the future.”

When asked about “Lopez vs. Lopez” premiering a new season on prime-time television, Leyva said that it’s the ideal space to tell family stories and bring everyone together.

“There is something really nostalgic. There is something wonderful where families make a date to tune in and sit and watch something,” she said.

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