¿Qué Pasa, USA?
|¿Qué Pasa, USA?|
|Created by||Manny Mendoza|
|Written by||Luis Santeiro|
|Starring||Ana Margarita Martínez-Casado
Ana Margarita Menéndez
Barbara Ann Martin
|Theme music composer||Luis Santiero, performed by Paquito Hechavarria and the Fly Outs Band|
|Country of origin||USA|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||39|
|Running time||About 27 minutes (per episode)|
|Original release||1977 – 1980|
¿Qué Pasa, USA? (Spanish: What's Happening, USA?) is America's first bilingual situation comedy, and the first sitcom to be produced for PBS. It was produced and taped in front of a live studio audience at PBS member station WPBT in Miami, Florida and aired on PBS member stations nationwide. The program explored the trials and tribulations faced by the Peñas, a Cuban-American family living in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood, as they struggled to cope with a new country and a new language. The series is praised as being very true-to-life and accurately, if humorously, portraying the life and culture of Miami's Cuban-American population. Today, the show is cherished by many Miamians as a true, albeit humorous, representation of life and culture in Miami.
The series focused on the identity crisis of the members of the family as they were pulled in one direction by their elders - who wanted to maintain Cuban values and traditions - and pulled in other directions by the pressures of living in a predominantly Anglo-American society. This caused many misadventures for the entire Peña family as they get pulled in all directions in their attempt to preserve their heritage.
Use of language
The series was bilingual, reflecting the mix of language often heard in Cuban-American neighborhoods - from Spanish in the home and English at the supermarket to the inevitable combining of both into "Spanglish". The use of language in the show also paralleled the real-life generational differences in many Cuban-American families of the era. The grandparents spoke almost exclusively Spanish and were reluctant, or even hostile at times, towards the idea of learning English (one memorable episode featured a dream sequence where Joe, the son of the family, dreams about his grandparents speaking English exclusively and being unable to understand Spanish at all. Also in the dream Joe along with his sister Carmen can't speak English at all). The grandparents' struggle with English often resulted in humorous misunderstandings and malapropisms. The parents were more or less fluent in English, though with a strong Cuban accent, and would alternate between the two languages or code-switch depending on the situation. The children, having been exposed to American culture for years, spoke primarily in slightly accented colloquial English, but were able to converse capably in Spanish as needed (such as when speaking to their grandparents), though one of the running gags of the show revolved around their occasional butchering of Spanish grammar or vocabulary.
- Pepe - Manolo Villaverde (all episodes)
- Juana - Ana Margarita Martínez-Casado (all episodes)
- Antonio - Luis Oquendo (all episodes)
- Adela - Velia Martínez (all episodes)
- Joe - Steven Bauer (credited as Rocky Echevarría) (episodes 1-28)
- Carmen - Ana Margarita Menéndez (all episodes)
- Violeta - Connie Ramírez (recurring)
- Sharon - Barbara Ann Martin (recurring)
- Tanto Marta - Glenda Díaz Rigau (recurring)
- Mrs. Allen - Jody Wilson (recurring)
- Cousin Ignacio ("Iggy") Peña- Bernardo Pascual (recurring 4th season)
The series initially ran for four seasons from 1977-1980 (39 episodes were produced) and continues to run in syndication.