NBC sitcom features undocumented Filipino immigrant character

NBC sitcom features undocumented Filipino immigrant character

As the conversation on immigration continues during this contentious election season, the writers of the NBC sitcom “Superstore” have included a Filipino perspective to the immigrant narrative.

“Superstore” is about the antics of a diverse pool of employees in an American, Wal-Mart-esque big box superstore called Cloud 9.

In the season 2 premiere called “Olympics”, Mateo — a gay Fil-Am employee played by Filipino actor Nico Santos — hilariously finds out that he is not a U.S. citizen. In a scene, he argues with his lola on the phone in Tagalog and finds out his green card was actually counterfeited. He reveals this to his supervisor who dismisses the comment.

The characterization has been compared to the story of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and undocumented immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas, who also discovered his undocumented status by accident when applying for a driver’s license at 16 years old. Vargas praised the show on his Facebook page for “breaking ground” with Mateo’s storyline.

10.9 million viewers in the U.S. tuned into the show’s season premiere.

For Santos, landing the part of Mateo was a huge break.

“When I read the pilot, there was really something about Mateo that I sort of just really related to,” Santos told ABS-CBN in December. “I was born and raised in the Philippines and it seems like from the pilot’s perspective, it’s like him having the same story and trajectory so I was like, I could totally play the part.’”

“I guess people will just relate to how hungry he is for the American Dream, and how he’ll stop at nothing to get his way. There’s definitely a lot of similarities between me and Mateo.”

“Superstore” returns on Thursday, September 22 on NBC after a month-long hiatus.

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