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An El Pasoan’s Observations About “The Bridge” on FX

“The Bridge,” the crime drama set in El Paso and Juarez finally premiered on FX last night. I’m not sure if I’d keep watching (or have watched in the first place) if I weren’t an El Pasoan.  But I did watch the first episode with keen interest to see how our beautiful, peaceful, mostly crime-free city would be portrayed. Here are a few of my initial observations….

1.) The Male Lead

Demian Bichir is a very, very good actor.  I’m a little embarrassed to say I haven’t seen him in anything previously but after only 1 minute on screen last night, I could tell this is a very talented actor. I see no reason for him not to become a big star in English language movies.

Interesting fact: Demian Bichir provided the singing voice of Aladdin in the Spanish version of the Disney movie.

3.) The Female Lead

   Diane Kruger is a very good German actress most famous for playing Bridget Von Hammersmark in Inglorious Basterds.   This is not a criticism of her so much as it is of a trend in TV dramas that’s getting to be a bit hackneyed in my opinion: The quirky yet brilliant person with Asperger’s Syndrome.

I know it’s a real condition and I know that the Sonya Cross character in the original Danish version has it. My observation, not quite a complaint, is that it seems to be the trendy, go-to explanation to use instead of writing a genuinely interesting or odd character.  The main character in Bones is obviously an Aspie.  The Will Graham character on Hannibal is established to have the condition. Even the character of Sherlock Holmes on Elementary, always a quirky and not-altogether likeable character, is now portrayed as having Asperger’s.  Some people can be eccentric or brilliant or even a-holes without having an autism condition. It just a little…crutchy, y’know what I mean?

3.) Why is El Paso Always Assumed to be “Just Like Dallas”?

   This is actor Ted Levine. You’ve seen him before (see Interesting Fact, below). He is a great actor. But, why does every Caucasian El Pasoan have to talk with a thick EAST Texas drawl? And why does a police lieutenant wear a cowboy hat? Do they even do that in Dallas??   I guess the way we imagine every Californian to be a blonde surfer dude, they imagine every Texas lawman to sound like Tommy Lee Jone’s character in No Country for Old Men. It’s understandable, I guess, but I’ve never seen it once in real life.

Interesting Fact: Ted Levine played the serial killer Jamie Gumm/Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs!

4.) They Get the Demographics Almost Exactly Backward.

Judging by the premiere episode, the make-up of El Paso is 85% White and 15% Hispanic.  The Customs officials and cops are white. The murdered judge and her husband are white. The coroner, the lab tech, the male reporter, the business man…white, white, white. As you know, the actual demographics of El Paso are exactly the opposite: 85% Hispanic and 15% Caucasian. That make-up is reflected is reflected in our labor force. If you randomly selected an El Paso Border Patrol Agent, Police Officer, judge, or business owner, there would be an 85% chance that person would be of a Mexican or Mexican-American heritage. But I guess for a national TV audience, things have to be a little more black and white…actually, make that brown and white.

I’ll be watching The Bridge next week, though.

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