For those who have been longing for a Fred Armisen fix. Fear no more. Armisen is back with a brand-new offering in the form of the episodic show Los Espookys.
Executive Produced by Lorne Michaels and Armisen, you may think this is your standard SNL type fare. Think again. The show follows a motley crew of friends who turn their passion for horror into a unique business – staging horror stunts/scenarios for those in need. Whether it’s a manufacturing an exorcism, creating a sea monster for a theme park in need or your garden variety inheritance scare – Los Espookys are on it. Set in a non-descript Latin American country (never expressly identified) where the strange and eerie are simply a part of daily life. Think Ocean’s 11 meets Ghostbusters or in this case ghost creators.
Speaking of creators, the show is co-created by Armisen, Julio Torres (SNL wunderkind writer) and Ana Fabrega, who all also co-star. Another twist. Los Espookys is primarily in Spanish, with English subtitles. A rarity for the cable network. Also, rare? The tone. It’s quite unlike anything currently on television (cable, streaming or otherwise). A blend of over the top caricature, quirky wit and surreal comedy. All are elements the show’s co-creators say developed organically by the sensibilities each brings to the production.
‘LLERO sat with the cast ahead of the premiere to find out how the show came to be, what they love about the work and their hopes for Los Espookys in the broader television and cultural landscape.
How It All Began
When quizzed about the shows origins, Armisen told us he went to Mexico City and discovered “this goth world, horror movie world that isn’t just Day of the Dead, they are also fans of The Smiths, The Cure, there is a passion there for it that I just loved, the way it looks, feels. So, it seemed like the right setting. Who are those horror fans? Those music fans in Mexico City? What would they do, or want to do as an occupation or hobby?”
So how did the blend of horror and comedy come to be? “It went backwards in a way.” Arimsen said. “First it was something in Spanish, I want to play a valet guy, but I don’t want to be the main guy, but I want it to be about people who get together and do something crazy. I love horror, so what about a group of friends want to make horror their job. It’s not meant to be a scary show at all but more about optimism and passion and putting something together.”
Who Are Los Espookys?
So, who are this rag tag group of horror creators? First there is Renaldo, played Bernardo Velasco, he is the team’s founder. Renaldo is illustrative of the rock goth youth, observed by Armisen. He dons gothic choker necklaces and mesh tops and black denim but has a heart of gold and a passion for what he’s doing. When we asked Velasco, what he could envision his character doing in 20 years, Velasco said he could not, because “Renaldo is happiest where he is at now, working in horror which is his passion”. Coincidentally, Renaldo always seems to be running out of minutes on his data plan (an inside joke you’ll become familiar with upon viewing).
Tati, played by Ana Fabrega, is the naive yet, wise and effective body man who steps in to do the grunt work. Tati does it all with an endearing innocence, that you can’t help to root for. The role, seems to require perhaps the most physicality. An element which Fabrega told us “helps her bring a certain Buster Keaton approach to the character.”
Andres, played by the brilliant up and comer Julio Torres, brings brains and creativity in terms of horror installations, yet also tons of drama to the team. An heir to a chocolate empire set to be in an arranged marriage with a cookie scion straight out of a telenovela, think Walter Mercado as a youth and you have Andres.
The team is rounded out by the levelheaded Úrsula, played by Cassandra Ciangherotti. Ursula a frustrated dental assistant by day. However, as they say, the devil is in the details and Úrsula is the most adept and handling the details for the group, oh and ensuring they get paid. Not on the team per se, but perhaps can be considered a brand ambassador, is Armisen’s character, Uncle Tico, a master parking valet who encourages his nephew Renaldo to get into he horror business and helps facilitate his dreams.
What Do They Have to Say
Without giving away too much, Los Espookys doesn’t spare those less than wholesome institutions. Mail order pyramid schemes, false airplane wi-fi service and arranged marriages are just a few that are lampooned. Was this their intended effect? Not so says, Fabrega, “while some of the organizations we poke fun at are indeed preying on Latino communities, we didn’t set out to make a socio or political statement, those aspects that made their way into the show were things we experienced or have observed”. Nonetheless, it’s a nice touch.
When Can We Seem Them
Los Espookys will have an initial six episode run and premieres on HBO this Friday at 11:00 p.m. Check out the preview below.