We Own the Majority: Mayans M.C. Brings Drama, Representation, and Larger-Than-Life Grit

By Hannah Quinque

Pho­to by Ste­qvc at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MayansMC.png#/media/File:MayansMC.png.

FX’s Mayans M.C. is a dra­ma series show­cas­ing a world of guns and drugs around a bik­er gang in SoCal, right at the US-Mex­i­can bor­der. Can a set­ting rid­dled with stereo­types present a back­drop for desir­able rep­re­sen­ta­tion with its prin­ci­pal­ly Mex­i­can Amer­i­can (Chi­cano) char­ac­ters? Let’s look beyond the basic premise and find out how Mayans M.C., for all its machis­mo, tells tales full of life sel­dom fea­tured, off- as well as on-screen.

Sons of Anar­chy is one of those rare shows that boasts many sea­sons, sev­en to be exact, and yet car­ries its nar­ra­tive arcs through all of them, up to its dra­mat­ic con­clu­sion. It leaves the view­er with a seri­ous series hang­over – but in all the right ways. Not bad for a show that’s pre­dom­i­nant­ly white guys curs­ing. And drink­ing. And shooting.

No ques­tion, mix­ing insights into the mys­te­ri­ous cos­mos around motor­cy­cle clubs with a whole lot of dra­ma and a pinch of social crit­i­cism makes for a potent recipe. Spin-off Mayans M.C. has all that and adds extra fla­vor by mov­ing away from the default white main cast toward a Chi­cano one. This feels com­plete­ly nat­ur­al but still doesn’t hap­pen near­ly enough to even come close to a real­is­tic rep­re­sen­ta­tion of U.S. demo­graph­ics. Who’s behind the scenes, telling these impact­ful sto­ries, is just as meaningful.

Espe­cial­ly as Mayans M.C. takes on issues of crim­i­nal­i­ty such as drug trade and gang wars, it’s impor­tant to look fur­ther than hero­ic action scenes. The start­ing point, as showrun­ner Elgin James – who went through fos­ter care, gang mem­ber­ship, and prison as a mixed-race per­son him­self – puts it, is “final­ly get­ting to tell these sto­ries from the inside out.”

Mayans M.C. aims for diverse, sophis­ti­cat­ed per­spec­tives through­out the pro­duc­tion and express­es this ide­al in its poet­ic episode titles, which are echoed by main char­ac­ter Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes’ love for (His­pan­ic) lit­er­a­ture. Also, it man­i­fests in the show’s intros: In sea­sons 3 and 4, it’s a col­lage of orig­i­nal clips and pho­tos doc­u­ment­ing de-fac­to seg­re­ga­tion between whites and Chi­canos peo­ple in U.S. his­to­ry. And in sea­sons 1 and 2, intro song Nun­ca by David Hidal­go and Los Refu­gios Tier­nos con­fronts us with the endur­ing big­otry of the Amer­i­can Dream from the get-go. (It’s a banger, too, and inspired the arti­cle title.) Most impor­tant­ly, though, the per­son­al sto­ries and com­plex inner lives of the many char­ac­ters relate to a world that’s lit­er­al­ly not black-and-white.

Mayans M.C. thank­ful­ly isn’t the only block­buster in Mex­i­can Amer­i­can TV rep­re­sen­ta­tion, nor is it nec­es­sar­i­ly excep­tion­al in its exe­cu­tion. Yet, it can­not be over­stat­ed just how sig­nif­i­cant it is to see such a grand pro­duc­tion mak­ing its mark pre­cise­ly where it does: Smack-dab in the mid­dle of main­stream action-dra­ma TV.

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