TV's Hot Development Trend: Immigrant Stories

Gina Rodriguez attends the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards -Getty-H 2017
Steve Granitz/WireImage

As the Trump administration threatens to end former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, immigration has become one of this TV development season’s most timely subjects. 

Sony Pictures Television is in the early stages of developing a Party of Five reboot revolving around a first-generation Latino family that immigrates to the U.S. and learns to make it in a new country. A network has yet to be attached to series creators Chris Keyser's and Amy Lippman’s twist on their original iteration, starring Matthew Fox, Scott Wolf, Neve Campbell and Lacey Chabert as siblings in San Francisco who take care of one another after their parents die in a car crash.

Meanwhile, Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez — whose CW series has repeatedly tackled the subject — has set up two dramas: one about a doctor who immigrates to Miami and has to work as a nurse’s assistant (CBS’ Have Mercy), the other about an all-American teen who discovers he’s not American (The CW’s Illegal). 

These join ABC’s untitled comedy from 20th Century Fox TV about a white family that provides sanctuary to its undocumented nanny and her family; CBS’ Welcome to Maine, about a Maine family working alongside a recent immigrant and his daughter; Fox’s In the Country We Love, about a family deported to Colombia; as well as Undocumented America, a drama seeking a network based on a manuscript from journalist and DACA beneficiary Karla Cornejo Villavicencio.

“Specificity and universality often coexist. Everyone knows what it feels like to be an outsider,” says 20th TV president of creative affairs Jonnie Davis, whose studio produces ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat and is prepping The Greatest American Hero with an Indian-American woman at its center?for the same network. “Today’s television audience is diverse, and there are millions out there who would like to see their stories told — and told authentically. Immigrants are part of the American experience.”

This story first appeared in the Sept. 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.