HBO's 'Los Espookys' is a delightfully weird new comedy that gives its queer stars a chance to shine

Jennifer Clasen/HBOFred Armisen plays a legendary parking valet in ‘Los Espookys.’
  • HBO‘s new comedy “Los Espookys” was co-created by “Saturday Night Live” star Fred Armisen, along with queer Brooklyn-based comedians Julio Torres and Ana Fabrega.
  • It follows a group of friends in a Latin American country as they turn their love of horror films into a thriving business.
  • The show is primarily in Spanish, with English subtitles as needed.
  • It’s a lighthearted, offbeat comedy that can feel a bit low-stakes at times, but is definitely worth a watch.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

HBO’s newest comedy “Los Espookys” focuses on four friends in a dreamy Latin American country as they turn their passion for horror movies into a thriving business providing “scares” for other people.

After throwing his sister a successful horror-themed quinceañera on the pilot, Renaldo (Bernado Velasco) finally decides to make his passion for horror movies into a viable business – and enlists the help of his friends to form “los espookys.”

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Renaldo, who becomes the de facto leader of the “espookys,” is a horror aficionado who lives at home with his mum and younger sister. Also part of the group are Renaldo’s friends: Andrés (Julio Torres), the brooding heir to a chocolate fortune, and Úrsula, a deadpan dentist’s assistant.

Rounding out the “espookys” is Úrsula’s sister Tati, who serves as the group’s guinea pig and holds a series of increasingly odd jobs throughout the show. Renaldo’s mild-mannered uncle Tico (Fred Armisen), a parking valet legend living in Los Angeles, also appears on the series.

The show is primarily in Spanish, with English subtitles.

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Why you should care: It’s co-created by “SNL” and “Portlandia” star Fred Armisen.

Armisen co-created the series with former “SNL” writer/comedian Julio Torres, and Brooklyn-based comedian Ana Fabrega. Armisen shared in an interview for “Los Espookys” that he was inspired by the Spanish language to create the show, and said he had a “nagging” feeling that he wanted to do something in the language.

“It was just something that was nagging at me,” Armisen said during a press event attended by INSIDER. “It was the loudest voice in my head.”

Los espookys hboJennifer Clasen/HBOBrooklyn-based comics Ana Fabrega and Julio Torres co-created ‘Los Espookys’ with Fred Armisen.

What’s hot: It takes an irreverent, offbeat approach to portraying the business of “horror,” and gives queer actors/creators Julio Torres and Ana Fabrega plenty of time to showcase their comedic skills.

“Los Espookys” frequently deals with the supernatural – some moments that come to mind are Andrés conversing with a demon who lives in his subconscious and promises to reveal his “dark” backstory if only he’ll stream “The King’s Speech,” and the U.S. Ambassador getting lost in a cursed mirror when the espookys try to stage her abduction.

But while the show’s entire premise hinges on thrills and chills, it’s not actually scary. Rather, the antics of Renaldo, Andrés, Úrsula, and Tati are mostly surreal, and always hilarious. Whether they’re staging an exorcism to help an older priest regain his standing in the parish, or pretending to be aliens to give a struggling scientist some credit, the show never really veers into dark or depressing territory. Instead, the show infuses its truly wacky moments with deadpan humour and levity.

Tati los espookysJennifer Clasen/HBOAna Fabrega, who co-created ‘Los Espookys’ and also plays Tati, previously appeared on ‘At Home With Amy Sedaris.’

Armisen is unforgettable as Renaldo’s gentle Uncle Tico, and Torres and Fabrega give breakout performances as Andrés and Tati, respectively. Both identify as queer, yet Fabrega’s Tati is straight – while Torres’ character Andrés has a self-obsessed boyfriend named Juan Carlos. However, neither character’s sexuality (nor that of Úrsula, who, it’s suggested, is attracted to women), is ever explicitly mentioned. Like with most straight characters, their sexuality is simply a part of them that needs no discussion.

It’s refreshing to see two queer actors display their comedic chops in a show that doesn’t make a spectacle of their sexuality.

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What’s not: At times, the show can feel a little too low-stakes.

It might just be a side effect of the light-hearted approach this comedy takes, but at certain points, it’s hard to quite understand why the “espookys” spend all of their free time involved in a hobby that’s far from lucrative – at least for the first few episodes. Eventually, clear conflicts are laid out, and the stakes are raised, but it does take a little bit for the show to feel worthwhile.

Los espookys julio torresJennifer Clasen/HBO‘Los Espookys’ is set in a mythical Latin American country where strange occurrences are just a part of everyday life.

The bottom line: It’s a hilariously surreal, if occasionally low-stakes comedy that gives its queer creators a chance to shine.

It paints a nuanced portrait of four friends trying to turn their passion into a way of life, and offers an offbeat approach to the taboo topics of death and horror. Combined with the fact that it gives Torres and Fabrega a much-needed platform for their impressive comedic skills, “Los Espookys” is a completely original show that’s definitely worth a watch.

Grade: A-

“Los Espookys” premieres Friday at 11 pm on HBO, and you can watch the trailer below.

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