If you're craving another compelling family drama, then you may find it in the highly-anticipated Party of Five reboot.
Party of Five Season 1 Episode 1 set the groundwork for an emotional tale of an American family, not unlike thousands of others caught in the web of our current immigration issues.
Meanwhile, Party of Five Season 1 Episode 2 grounded the series by reminding viewers that despite all of that, the Acostas face many of the same struggles of any other American family.
We're in a reboot era of television, and with it comes many frustrations as the focus on catering to nostalgia can impede on the production of more original content and ideas.
Most people either love reboots, or they loathe them, and there is merit in both stances. At the crux of the reboot argument is usually: did we need this?
Party of Five may be one of the rare cases when we probably did. What lends itself to a stronger argument for select reboots is diversity.
It's interesting to take a familiar story and reimagine it from the perspective of underrepresented parties to not only show how similar we all are but also showcase, celebrate, and explore our differences.
In doing so, you can take something familiar and appealing and make it refreshing and compelling, which is what Party of Five more often than not does.
It also doesn't hurt that the creators of the original series are behind this modern, updated, and timely imagining.
It has resulted in some callbacks and touches of the original series that may appeal to former fans, a stamp of approval by those involved, and trust and comfort in this version and the story told.
We're living in tough times. As a result, there were many ways to tell a story about modern-day American orphans or a group of kids forced to take care of themselves.
Our healthcare crisis would've been an amazing backdrop for this -- unemployment, the opioid crisis -- one could go on. It just so happens that this reboot picked immigration.
There are four of them, my love. Four. They know how to take care of each other. We've given them everything we possibly could. How can we give this little one anything less?Javier
And while it's timely enough where many shows want to touch upon it in some way to a point where it feels as though it's saturating the landscape, in reality, it isn't.
Most shows do some one-off plot to be current, but few series set its premise around it, and that's what separates Party of Five from others. It's still very much a story that needs to be told and represented.
We see the stories from the legal perspective on legal dramas or crime shows. We get the moments leading up to deportation or the trial, but we don't see the aftermath of it and how it affects families when the dust settles.
And that's also what makes the series poignant without necessarily being traditionally political.
Lucia: Get your hands off her! She's not less of a person then you are. What the hell is wrong with this country?!
Javier: Lucia, dignity mija! Show them who we are.
Lucia: They don't care who are, papi. Don't you understand that by now?
Javier: Then we show ourselves.
It's a critique thrown about too loosely without considering that for some people, their very existence is considered political, and there's no way of telling stories about them without also exploring what being who and what they are means.
Party Of Five isn't trying to be preachy. It dealt with something politically-charged, but it isn't trying to tell you what's right or wrong, or what to believe. It's leaving your feelings up to you.
It's only showing you a lovely family and how they're dealing with a messed up situation.
They never present the Acostas as right or wrong in choosing to cross the border illegally. For every scene explaining their actions, there was a counter-response echoing the sentiments of those who feel strongly against illegal immigration.
Javier: There must be some mistake. We've been at this establishment for 18 years.
ICE Agent: I see, so you think the rules don't apply to you?
Javier: Officers have been here before. There's never been a problem.
ICE Agent: Well things have changed, Mr. Acosta. Let me see your papers.
Gloria: Everything is going to be alright, mi amor, OK?
ICE Agent: I'm not going to ask you again.
Javier: I don't have any papers.
And the series let's all of these different viewpoints on immigration sit there so you can interpret them as you deem fit without telling you how to feel about them.
So, if there are any reservations about the subject matter and feeling as though the series will push an agenda, for now, they aren't.
At the heart of this show, it's about family, not politics. And it's about what you do for family, and how one adapts when something significant happens, and how they fight to stay together, work together, and love each other.
You have to stay together, no matter what happens. You have to promise me.Gloria
Love of family it's something that connects and appeals to everyone and transcends anything else, and that's what reels you in with the Acostas. In the same way the Alvarez family has a universal appeal on One Day at A Time.
For 23 years, the Acosta family built a happy life for themselves, and in the blink of an eye, five minutes into the series, it all crumbles around them.
The system set up within the neighborhood alerting the businesses of ICE raids was heavy in itself, but it didn't compare to the second Javier, and Gloria, realized their time was up.
ICE Agent: We're not here for your employees, Mr. Acosta. We're here for you and your wife.
Javier: I don't understand.
ICE Agent: Let me see your papers, Sir.
Gloria: Did do we do something wrong?
ICE Agent: You Gloria Acosta?
ICE Agent: Let me see your papers Ma'am.
The days of undocumented individuals keeping their heads down are gone. The crackdowns are harder and harsher, so it didn't matter how long the Acostas had resided in the country, or that they paid their taxes, or were good people, there's no looking the other way.
Javier's resignation when he admitted he didn't have papers was heartbreaking. Then, they were hauled away with sweet Val screaming in horror, and you knew it was going to be an emotional rollercoaster.
It hit its peak when the parents had to say farewell to their children. Because after passionate, emotional speeches by a smart 12-year-old and the best immigration lawyer money could buy, nothing was keeping the Acostas from being deported.
It was grim but real. Their lawyer tried to argue a case of exceptional and unusual hardship as to why the Acostas shouldn't be deported, but they didn't fit the bill.
Their story was no more or less heartbreaking than the thousands of other cases and families in the same predicament.
The Acostas aren't special.
You can see that in regards to how this family's case isn't any different than any of the others, but it can also speak to them coming to the country illegally and living their lives undocumented.
I'm a good girl because my parents made sure of it, and I still need them. And I'm going to need them for a really long time.Val
Their case wasn't special enough to let them meet this requirement that spared them, but also, you could argue they weren't special enough to sidestep the laws and rules and thus should face the consequences of their choices.
It's the type of realism the series strives for and succeeds in.
But you'd be lying if you said your heart didn't ache for them as they said goodbye to their children, right?
It was a haunting scene -- farewells through a chain-link fence, Javier and Gloria trying to stay upbeat, optimistic, and strong for their children, and Gloria collapsing into herself on her way out the door.
You felt their pain, and you knew in that exact moment the lives of the Acostas would never be the same. It was also particularly gut-wrenching when Javier told Gloria they had to leave Rafa with the other kids.
My love, we can't take the baby.Javier
He's an American citizen, and they couldn't deprive him of the opportunities they fought so hard to give the others. They couldn't condemn him to a life where he would be struggling to get back to where he was.
The decision made was harried, and we could've used more time exploring the necessity of the choice.
And the immediate aftermath of their farewell would've been an intriguing point to explore too. Instead, the series did a six-week time-jump into the thick of it.
It gave us our first real look at the Acosta siblings and their personalities as they had to cope with their parents' deportation.
Look, my brother is failing school. My sister, who used to be perfect, I'm telling you perfect, is so angry at the world, and I don't know how to make that better. My little sister is going to need a bra soon without a mom to help her get through that, and the baby has thrush, and I don't know if it's something I did. Ms. Santos, we have no other family here. It's just me, and I'm telling you I won't be good enough. They need my parents. I'm asking you, please.Emilio
Emilio is at the center of this story, and it suits Freeform's theme of focusing on millennial and Gen Z protagonists. To add an extra feeling of foreboding and tension, we find out that Emilio is a DACA kid.
As a Dreamer, he's in a precarious position himself, which leaves the family in a constant state of uncertainty. We still don't know what the ruling will be on Dreamers and their status and how that will change things.
By making Emilio a DACA kid, it leaves the siblings never free of worry and fear. Emilio has a cross to bear on his own. He's someone who has to mind his P's and Q's and as Lucia told Beto, there's no room for marginal error.
Emilio had a rough start. For one, he's inherently selfish, and it's a realistic quality for him to have, particularly at his age.
When I see a sharp decline in grades or in attendance, I have a responsibility to investigate what's going on in the home. How are these children being parented? If they're being parented. And if I cannot answer these questions to my satisfaction, I'm required to report them to social services.Dana
It was frustrating to know he couldn't make a real effort to take the reins until the potential consequences stared him in the face.
In fact, it's fascinating that the eldest son and daughter are the most selfish and self-absorbed of the bunch. They struggled the most to get in gear and think about their family as a unit.
Emilio's way of dealing with the stress of his parents' deportation was burying himself in random women, focusing on his music, and ignoring what was happening at the Acosta home.
Lady: Excuse me, may I ask: Which one of you does he belong to?
Emilio and Beto: Both of us.
Lady: I mean, you know genetically.
Emilio and Beto: Both of us.
Lady: Now how does that work exactly? They just spin the sperm, and you never really know?
Emilio: No we're not a couple.
Beto: We're brothers. All three of us. He's our brother.
Lady: Oh well, isn't he lucky then to have his two big brothers looking after him today.
Emilio: Today and every day.
Beto: Our parents got deported.
It's not an uncommon response for a character like him, and it's especially not rare for a male to respond that way. But, for better and worse, Lucia acted out in her way, too.
It's a time where the siblings need to stick together more than ever, but she, like Emilio, was wallowing in her emotions and not considerate of anyone else's.
It's a full range of emotions and reactions for all of them, and you try not to judge any of them harshly. They're all kids, and they needed time to feel their emotions and let everything sink in. Emilio and Lucia made it hard, though.
Lucia: Look, all I know is that being angry is better than being sad.
Olivia: I can be angry too. I am angry. I cam be angry with you!
Lucia: No you can't. The thing is first you have to lose something that really matters to you.
Olivia: Well I lost you didn't I?!
The issue is when it's something affecting a familial unit. Everyone has to deal with each other, and when some are allowed to be selfish and act out (Emilio and Lucia), it leaves others stifling their feelings and trying to keep things together to pick up the slack (Beto and Val).
It's authentic in its depiction but so unfair. You sympathize with all of them, even an incredibly aggravating, inconsiderate, and self-consumed Emilio and Lucia. But none are more sympathetic than Beto and Val, who had to deal with the additional stress of trying to keep the household afloat while their siblings spazzed out.
Two installments into this series, and I will fight anyone who touches a hair on Beto or Val's head. I love them both with my entire being.
I'm not familiar with the original series, but it's to my understanding they both have similar traits to their original counterparts.
Beto: Val, can you do me a favor? There's a box of payroll stubs, can you start organizing them so I can figure out what to pay everyone?
Val: One of these days I'll be gone. Then what are you going to do?
Beto: I have no idea.
Whether it was then or it's now, it's refreshing to have a male character who displays such maternal, nurturing energy, and I appreciate turning toxically masculine ideals on their head.
Beto is a natural caretaker, and he's already the glue that's keeping the family together. The funny thing is he doesn't even realize it, which makes him all the more lovable.
It's a sharp contrast to Emilio, who isn't done being a kid yet. He doesn't want the responsibility of taking care of his siblings, and as irritating as it was to witness him shirk them and fall short, it's understandable.
One of the best character interaction moments was when the brothers blew up at each other. Emilio, so caught up in his turmoil, wasn't ready to give up on his dream of being a musician and didn't want to be like his father.
Emilio: You don't want me coming in here making the rules, that's fine. I'll go, but they'll split you guys up. Is that what you want? I'm responsible for this family now, and I want to take this responsibility seriously.
Beto: Give me a break. You want to take care of us? Go to work!
Emilio: I have a job.
Beto: What? Being a musician? That's not a job. Two gigs a month is not a job, it's a fantasy, and we can't afford that right now. We need the money. So why don't you act like the grown-up you claim to be, and suck it up and go run the restaurant like mommy and papi.
Emilio: I don't want to be like mommy and papi!
Beto: Neither do I, but here we are.
It was a hell of a blow to hear, and it was no less of a gut-punch without Javier there to hear it. But Beto countered with the reality check. None of them had a choice in what happened to them.
He stepped up, and it was time for Emilio to do the same. It was time for Emilio to get his shit together. They were all thrust into adulthood sooner than they were prepared for, but they had to rely on Emilio to steer their family now.
He's the only one of legal age who can do most of the work, and if they want to stay together as a family without social services getting involved, then Emilio had to put his dreams on hold.
It took the increasing pressure of his siblings as they struggled not to fall apart and the threat of social services to turn Emilio around.
Val: They're going to split us up.
Beto: Hey, no they're not. We won't let that happen. Right Lucia?
Emilio: Hey, no one is going to split us up. I'll sublet my apartment. Move back home. I'll take care of things. I promise.
He spent the second hour taking on more of the role as head of the household. It's a lot to ask of a 24-year-old to raise four kids and run a family business, but it was too much for him to expect a 16-year-old to do it all.
The second half of the premiere had Emilio more likable than the first. It's better when he isn't pawning responsibilities off on his flavors of the week or his underaged siblings.
You couldn't help but be proud of him when he hung his guitar up on the wall out of reach so he could focus on his new reality.
He has a lot to adjust to, and taking on the business will be an area he struggles in. He made so many questionable decisions at the restaurant.
Oscar: I don't want to be treated any different. You treat me like everyone else.
Emilio: OK, fine.
Oscar: Which means I'd like the overtime I'm owed. Eight-hundred dollars. I'd appreciate that by Friday.
The situation with Oscar was hard to process. In Emilio's defense, Javier gave him the impression Oscar was taking a little off the top of the earnings when he took the money to the bank, and Val, Beto, and Emilio realized Javier wasn't the best at running the business.
He was lenient in many ways. Emilio isn't inclined to let people take advantage of him, but God bless him, he lacks tact and finesse.
Oscar wasn't stupid, so he picked up on what Emilio's issues were, and he was right, Emilio was disrespectful. Only asking him about missing wallets posed a problem. He couldn't rely so heavily on Oscar to teach him how to run the business while also letting him know he didn't trust him and thought he was a thief.
I deserve respect, and without that, you can have your money, and you can have your job. Tell the kids I love them.Oscar
Fortunately, Emilio found out Gloria was the one who had been taking the money and saving it as rainy day funds for their household and Emilio.
It allowed him to put aside his ego and judgment and apologize to Oscar. Their parents aren't in the country anymore, but Oscar is a solid adult figure to help them in some aspect of their life.
Emilio is going to have a rough go of it running the restaurant, and the beauty of him in this element is witnessing the privileges his parents' sacrifices afforded him. He's out of his depth as someone who didn't have to work as hard as they did.
They did all of this so he could have a comfortable life doing what he loved, and this experience, however heartbreaking, is also humbling for him.
I'm guessing you aged out of that right? I mean look at you. You're running a restaurant, taking care of four kids. No time for girls, right?Vanessa
He has enough to deal with at the restaurant without this contrivance that affects his work and home life. Vanessa is a beautiful, sweet girl, but the romantic subplot and triangle are trite.
She's a distraction. At the least, we could've gone longer without the two of them hooking up. Emilio has barely gotten his feet wet as an owner of the business and head of the household before his "reward" is emotional support and a relationship with Vanessa.
And she works with him, so things can get messy, but it's also going to cause a needless rift between the brothers since Beto has a crush on her, too.
Vanessa: Hey so, I was going to say thanks for the ride last night, but I thought ride seemed kind of --
Emilio: Look, I'm dealing with shit. Do you need something?
Vanessa: No. Just the specials
It's not that Vanessa is a terrible character. She's sweet, and her knowledge as a Master's student in Psychology has and can be useful for this family as they adjust to things and try to take care of each other.
However, the heart of the series is the interactions with the siblings, and we didn't need a romance. The family interplay is more than enough.
Emilio gets the reward of emotional support and a love interest who sees him in his best moments of being the responsible older brother. Perhaps it caters to his reputation of being the ladies man, but it also reinstills this idea that he as a guy needs this.
It's enough there to explore with the other dynamics without the conflict and cliched storytelling that comes with making Vanessa a love interest.
I haven't made a lot of amends in my life. I figured you're a good person to teach me how to do this one right.Emilio
Emilio and Beto are so different, but both of them are crucial to keeping their family together. The tension between the brothers is there without a girl being part of it.
Right now, Vanessa seems to be a bright spot for Beto, but he has his hands full with other aspects of his life. He's the one most often taking care of Rafa. He's also the one who Val turns to when she needs support and comfort.
The relationship between the two is one of the best to come out of the series so far. The chemistry between Legaspi and Guardado is so incredible, you'd think they were real siblings.
What you don't realize is that not one of those kids can do half of what you can do. At 16, you're doing a job of mother and father. Compared to that, physics is cake. I think you're incredible.Vanessa
Beto can't always keep the others on track, but he does have a special hold on Val and vice versa. He was anguished over her nightmares and sleep issues.
He was trying to do whatever he could to help her through that, even when it came at his expense. Emilio is the oldest with the most responsibility, but you feel the pressure with Beto most.
Maybe it's because of how he's taken to this role instantly. Before, he didn't have to think about his poor grades and the effects it would have on the family, but now, despite being one of the only kids who consistently pulls his weight, he's terrified of being their downfall.
It's a chain reaction of poor grades leading to academic probation, and that meaning social services might come into the picture, and also, him not being able to work at the restaurant and help make money to support the rest of them.
I don't get things. They may be easy for you, but seriously, something is wrong with me because I sit in that physics class, and it's like someone is speaking a foreign language which might as well be goddamned Spanish because I don't understand much of that either. I'm in trouble. Only now, it's everyone's trouble because if I can't cut it academically, they'll be on all of our asses. That just makes the pressure a thousand million times worse, but you know what? Last night I actually slept. Even with Val's elbow in my ribs, I slept. Because my really smart sister was going to give me the answers.Beto
He went from thinking about football games and girls to supporting a family. Your heart ached for him, and it made his relationship with his twin agitating.
Lucia has taken this news and spiraled. She's the most visibly angry at the world and the system for what happened to her parents.
But she takes it out on everyone else. She went from being a straight-A perfect student to failing to do her work and causing trouble.
Lucia: What am I feeling right now? Right this second.
Beto: You're afraid. And guess what Luc, me too.
Lucia: The thing is I don't know how to raise a baby or be a parent to a 12-year-old.
Beto: Me neither.
Lucia: You do, too. You're better at it than I am. Good at it in fact.
Beto: Alas, something I'm good at it. Look mommy and papi weren't much older than us when they came here, and they managed. With a lot less than we had. Just two bags --
Both: --a $50 bill and a Spanish-English dictionary.
Beto: They figured it out. So will we.
Lucia: How do you know?
Beto: I just do.
The distance she likes to place between herself and Beto is disheartening. He craved the twin bond, and she shot him down.
He reached out for help with his schoolwork, and she ignored him and focused on her issues. It's the very least she could've done, and she dropped the ball and let him down.
She was quick to point out how he's a natural in his role as caretaker, in that swingset scene that was a callback to the original series, but she doesn't put her skills to use to help the family out more, which is frustrating.
Is anyone else thinking Beto has a learning disability? It sounds like it. If so, it makes the harshness of Ms. Mateluna's statements disturbing.
Lucia: You can't fail him.
Ms. Mateluna: I haven't even graded the test yet.
Lucia: He knows he failed. Which means there's no way he can pass the class, which means there's no way he can work at the restaurant, or help take care of our little brother.
Ms. Mateluna: He should've thought of that before he took the exam, not after.
Lucia: He did think of it. And he asked me to help him study, and I let him down. It's my fault. But the consequences of him failing, they're all of ours to deal with. The whole family.
She made her point about accepting consequences, but I couldn't help but wonder how Beto made it this far into his academic career without any teacher noticing that a bright kid like him might have some other issues hindering his ability to learn.
Lucia is one of the characters who needed a few reality checks, and her friend Olivia and mysterious homeless teen, Matthew, were among the two to do it.
Lucia spent so much time lashing out and pretending as if she was the only one affected by her parents' deportation, that she failed to see how privileged she was. I liked that Matthew pointed that out.
One of her strongest moments was when she went to Ms. Mateluna's home for Beto's sake.
Ms. Mateluna: Let me understand. Are you asking me to give him a grade he doesn't deserve to pass him when he did failing work?
Lucia: To be honest, how little my brother understands physics has very little to do with the rest of his life. What has everything to do with it is how well he we can keep our family together. The world hasn't been very kind to us lately. And it would be nice if someone could show Beto a little forgiveness.
Ms. Mateluna: Actions have consequences, Lucia. And even if I can't teach your brother physics, I can teach him that. Some of us do things as they're supposed to be done. We take time. We do the work. We come to this country legally. I'm sorry that what your parents did put you at risk even though it makes things worse for the rest of us who have to prove over and over that we have the right to be here. There are no free passes. Not for your parents. Not for any of us, and not for Beto.
Party of Five so far is engaging in the subtle ways it touches on issues and life in the Latinx community. It delves into the intracommunity issues that come up as well.
It's not just white people or natural-born citizens who have strong stances on illegal immigration. It's a hot-button issue within the community too.
Mateluna was someone who voiced that. She stood there as a woman who came to the country the legal way -- the "right" way as she put it, so she's disappointed by those like the Acostas.
In her mind, because of undocumented immigrants like them, it makes it much harder for her to always have to prove she belongs there too.
We also see more of these intercommunity type of issues when Beto brings up multiple times that he's terrible at speaking Spanish.
Lucia: I'm going through the same thing, which is why I thought it would be nice if we could, like, hang -- talk because at the moment, there's not a lot of people in my life who really understand me.
Matthew: Don't you have a family?
Lucia: Of course --
Matthew: No, not "of course." You have a family.
The Acosta children are very Americanized, and it's probably something their parents ensured to give them a better shot in the country, but it comes with its fair share of problems too.
It's a lot of identity issues with nuance the series can explore with the groundwork they laid out here.
Sweet, precocious, and smart Val is another instant favorite. She's the one who is having the hardest time adjusting to what happened.
She's traumatized, and it's coming out in all sorts of ways. She's such a wise girl, that sometimes you forget how young she is until she's curling up with her brother after having bad nightmares or thinking she's going to spend the money she found on a ticket to visit her parents in Mexico by herself.
She's balancing checkbooks and going over the books, but she's also not old enough to have her first bra yet. She's scared, and she needs her parents, and everything is tough on her.
She's also the one who turns to faith the most to help her through this time. It's something the sisters differ on, and I look forward to more moments between the two girls.
We know some of Val's caretaking will inevitably fall on Lucia. Right now, the strongest sibling bond out of the bunch is that between Val and Beto, so it's going to be a treat when the others are explored more.
It's also great that the series doesn't forget about Javier and Gloria. They're ever-present in the installments checking in with their children via facetime and phone calls.
Parents dying is a different kind of grief, but there's something uniquely devastating about the parents being just out of reach.
It keeps everyone in this form of limbo. It's not finite; they don't have closure.
Val: They're going to split us up.
Beto: Hey, no they're not. We won't let that happen. Right Lucia?
Emilio: Hey, no one is going to split us up. I'll sublet my apartment. Move back home. I'll take care of things. I promise.
If the Acostas died, they would grieve and learn to push forward. Death is final.
But their parents aren't dead; they're stuck across the border out of reach, so the grieving never stops. It's reopened every time they get a phone call reminding them of their predicament.
It's hard on the Acostas who are separated from all of their babies. They want to parent, but they can't do it well from over the phone.
And it's hard on the kids whose parents are just out of reach while they scramble to keep their family together in their absence.
Javier has to do his best to support his family from afar, and Gloria is losing her mind without her babies.
It's a unique situation to explore on TV, but it's a reality for thousands of families across the country. Overall, it's a promising start to the series.
Over to you, Party of Five Fanatics. Did you like this reboot? Do you find the story compelling?
It's a lot to discuss, so hit the comments below with all of your thoughts and sentiments.
You can watch Party of Five online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.