Right off the bat, I will admit I am extremely biased with this review. Primo is an eight, half hour episode series now available on Amazon’s FreeVee streaming service. The basic premise is Rafa, a Mexican-American teenager, deals with being a San Antonio youth being raised by a single mother and his five uncles. Rafa is an awkward but smart kid who has the potential to be the first in his family to attend college and advance his life with the prospect of a higher degree. Of course, he is also dealing with all the standard teenage issues: figuring out who he is, preparing for college, handling his eccentric and very nosy family, and having his first real crush on newcomer, Mya. The entire show is based on the life of actual San Antonian writer, Shea Serrano. So, yeah, this show hits a lot of points for me. Thankfully, it is also just a really good, fun “old school” comedy.
Primo really is set up like a traditional half hour comedy that would run on primetime television. The first episode sets up the entire show’s premise along with introducing us to Rafa and his home life. By the episode’s end, you know exactly who Rafa is and the personality and purpose/role of every single uncle in his life. Jay is the no nonsense tio who is all about working hard and taking care of his family. Mondo is the spacey, kind uncle who kind of just exists in the periphery. Rollie is the criminal tio with the heart of gold and questionable track record. Mike is the former Army uncle who is still super patriotic and is all in on the whole physical aspect of the armed forces. Which makes even more sense for San Antonio. Ryan is the tio all about getting the paper and believes the only true measure of success is your bank account and possessions. Of course, they are all tempered by Drea the only girl in the family who had the job of keeping everyone alive while mama was out of the house. Again, this is very specific to my experience and background.
Like, there is a subplot in an episode about rivalries and competition at the local Flea Market/Pulga between Mondo and a former friend over some bullshit years before. And the resolution is a full on fight with damaged merchandise and Flea Market security forcing them to make up or be banned. Or Mike’s whole military persona and presence in the family and community makes so much sense if you know/are from San Antonio. Or Jay running a landscaping business while not having a single bank account and keeping money in coats. These are all people I know from my youth, and I lived hours away from San Antonio. (Though still in the actual Rio Grande Valley. 9-5-6 REPRESENT!) So, seeing this show actually running especially after the cancellation of other Latinx shows on major streamers is a balm to the soul.
Beyond personal connection and the desire to see more Latinx representation on screen, the show is just genuinely funny. The last comedy to make me laugh out loud on purpose was Abbott Elementary and cannot recall the one before that, so take that for your marker of quality. But truly, the cast is pitch perfect in each of their respective roles. The music works so well. The story is legitimately episodic with a through line for the entire season and manages the old family comedy dynamic of having a relevant life lesson at the end of each episode; sometimes more than one.
All in all, Primo is just a solid show that you can tell was made with love and care from top to bottom on all levels. Really hope this one gets more seasons because there is definitely life and story to tell here.
Singular complaint is lack of Whataburger. One reference in eight episodes is nowhere near enough for how this family would absolutely scarf down some Patty Melts.