On Freeform’s new drama Party of Five, there is one big change from the original series, which ran on FOX from 1994 to 2000. In the original, the parents were killed by a drunk driver, leaving the four younger Salinger siblings to be raised by their oldest brother, Charlie (Matthew Fox).
In the reboot, the Acosta children lose their parents not to a drunk driver but to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Their parents are deported to Mexico, leaving the oldest sibling Emilio (Brandon Larracuente) in charge of his two younger brothers and two younger sisters.
The Immigration Aspects Makes It Very Current
When an ICE raid targets the Acostas’ Los Angeles-area restaurant, father Javier (Bruno Bichir) and mother Gloria (Fernanda Urrejola) are sent to Mexico and their five children don’t know when — or even if — they’re going to see their parents again. To prepare for the roles, the actors recently told MTV that they did a ton of research — and they didn’t need to look too hard to find many, many stories about families ripped apart by ICE.
“I did tons of research. Emily, Nico, Elle and myself would send each other stories about families who were going through the deportation process,” said Larracuente about himself and his co-stars. Elle Paris Legaspi added, “The writers actually incorporated a few things that they saw online into our show, and I think it’s amazing. It’s just making our show more authentic.”
Star Emily Tosta also said that the show hits particularly close to home for her.
“When my mom and I moved to the States, we had no legal status to work. And I come from a Dominican family where nobody has papers,” says Tosta. “My grandma and my mom haven’t seen each other in like, 10 years because my mom is scared to leave the country, and my grandma is not allowed to come into the country. So I think it was really easy for me to relate to the project and bring things from my real life to make it more authentic.”
But The Show Is Also a Coming-of-Age Story
The Party of Five reboot also chronicles the daily struggles of adolescence, which is part of what drew the actors to the show.
“Obviously, the timeliness of it all, with the deportation angle and all that — that’s important. But underneath that is a family dynamic, and where these kids are in life before and after their parents are deported. Beto Acosta doesn’t really know what he wants in life. Or where he is in life, to be honest,” said star Niko Guardado.
Tosta added that it’s also about seeing Latinx characters and actors on TV.
“As actors, and especially as Latinx actors, we’re always striving to be a part of projects that actually are meaningful and that have representation, and inclusion, and diversity,” said Tosta. “And I think this is something that the project achieved in such a wonderful way.”
Party of Five premieres Wednesday, January 8 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Freeform with back-to-back episodes; the other eight episodes of the first season will air one at a time on subsequent Wednesday nights.