You see, each of the yours has a different take on being a man. There’s the grumpy responsible one, Jay (Jonathan Medina), the only uncle who’s married and who believes in physical labor and providing for his family. He may have the most gravel in his voice, but he’s regularly reduced to tears when thinking about how much he loves his wife. Then there’s Mondo (Efrain Villa), a conflict-adverse hippy who sells phallic statues at the farmers market and spouts new-aged wisdom. The other three brothers are in the middle, loosely occupying and problematizing their respective banker, veteran, and petty-criminal identities.
“Primo” gets a lot of laughs off these characters, their silliness, contradictions, and bombast. But the show’s success is in the clear tenderness it extends to the Gonzales family, allowing each member to be more than a type and rejoicing in their bonds.
At the center is Rafa, who, at 16, is trying on different identities to figure out who he is. He desperately wants to impress Mya (Stakiah Lynn Washington) and goes to a different uncle for advice depending on what he needs: help to make a good impression on her military dad, access to a sweet car, or getting (in and) out of trouble.
Where a lesser show might start to feel icky with a male character working so hard to impress a girl, “Primo” avoids those pitfalls. Partly, that’s thanks to Rafa’s innocence. This is not the sexed-up version of high school that we see in shows ranging from “Riverdale” to “Friday Night Lights” but rather a sweet coming-of-age tale. Also, Mya is not an object but her own interesting person. She’s a wholesome and kind military brat who loves death metal. She contains multitudes.
Likewise, Rafa’s mom Drea is a full human being and the person he knows to go to when he needs real guidance. She doles out punishment when needed, and while she’s clearly everyone’s rock, she’s just as silly, physical, and over-the-top as the rest.