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Essay on Mi Familia by Gregory Nava


My Family, or originally Mi Familia in Spanish, is a fantastic story of a Mexican immigrant family in the US. The plot opens up through three generations and describes all their social struggles.

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In this essay on Mi Familia, we are focusing on the aspects of their cultural identities. Of course, under the pressure of assimilation, the family of Mexicans changes their customs. In the movie, we can see how it happens from generation to generation.

In the following essay, we talk about how different cultural backgrounds are showing up through characters. Also, there are some notes on the specifics of the communication in this family.

Mi Familia: Characters’ Backgrounds

It all starts with the Mexican family moving to Los Angeles. They are trying to protect their national and family traditions. For the second generation, this task seems almost unfeasible, and the third generation gives up.

Mi Familia is an excellent representation of a cultural assimilation phenomenon. While seniors make an effort to protect Mexican traditions, youth doesn’t seem to make a big deal out of it.

Since it is a drama with the elements of romance, there are some great touching performances. Despite all the criminal and social issues, Mi Familia characters dance a lot. Of course, their passionate and lively dance moves with Latin music differ from what is considered normal in Los Angeles.

One example is when Isabel is trying to make Jimmy dance into a Latin song. At first, he doesn’t want to and seems somewhat embarrassed by it. It is happening on the street in front of their house, and all the neighbors are watching. When he finally agrees, someone stares at them, dancing and Jimmy loses his temper.

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Such a performance is a rare thing on the streets of Los Angeles. Of course, people would be judging it because it’s different.

Then, Jimmy starts enjoying their improvised dance, waking up his long-forgotten Mexican spirit. It appears to create a connection between him and Isabel, and they kiss. This move is another cultural aspect that makes their family stand out. Americans don’t start their romances so flashy as this Mexican family.

The movie cast includes Jennifer Lopez, who plays Maria and appears at the beginning of the story. Maria and Jose are the parents of the family. Their wish is to keep the traditions alive and achieve the American Dream at the same time. The very last scene shows that they are quite happy how it all turned out. Despite all the troubles, they thank God for their fabulous lives.

Forms of Communication in Mi Familia: Analysis

Gregory Nava’s Mi Familia is a fantastic reflection of the most sincere Mexican traditions. It ruins the biases about Latinos that were around the film industry in those days.

The passionate dancing and music mentioned above are some of the forms of communication in their family. Through the moves of the bodies, they express their feelings and emotions. It is quite unique since average Americans don’t dance into hip hop when they want to show their love and joy.

Another thing is the outfits. No description can genuinely reflect their customs. They are just not ashamed of their body as much as Americans. Maybe there are some family rules, but bodies are pictured as a tool for transmitting feelings. It is not even weird that there are some nude scenes in the movie.

Movie analysis of Mi Familia would be incomplete without describing the passionate love between the characters. Love scenes are quite explicit, so the movie is rated R. However, it is nothing short of a reflection of Mexican cultural norms.

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This movie underlines the difference in communication styles between American and Mexican cultures. Intimacy and love are the vital elements of the relationship in this Mexican family. Americans are much more conservative and formal, even with family members.

Their love and warmth are what created this feeling of happiness that radiates from their family. It is there at all times, despite the struggles they have to overcome.


All in all, Gregory Nava’s My Family is an excellent representation of a Mexican family. It highlights the cultural differences that make their family stand out in the calm Los Angeles neighborhood.

Showing off the emotions and sharing feelings through the dance is a distinct feature of Mexican culture. The passionate Latin music and their casual way of communication are totally opposite to the formal Americans. Moreover, their clothing is quite unique, as well. Their occasional absence of clothing (nudity) can also reflect their cultural norms.

Even though all those aspects may look weird, it is what keeps the family together. It brings them even closer in times of trouble.


❓ What is Mi Familia about?

Mi Familia tells a story of three generations of a Mexican family. We see them adapting to American culture. It all starts with the father of the family, Jose, who immigrates to Los Angeles and meets Maria. Their family faces a lot of troubles, but they stick together. Traditions and love for each other help them overcome all the obstacles.

❓ Where was Mi Familia filmed?

The process of creating Mi Familia began in 1994. The filming locations include both Mexico and the US. Los Angeles and Agoura Hills became some of the sites in California. A lot of places from the Mexican state Michoacán appear on the screen. For instance, Patamban, Pátzcuaro, and Ocumicho are all towns where the movie was shot.

❓ Who directed Mi Familia?

Mi Familia movie was directed by Gregory Nava. He admitted that it is based on some events from his life. However, generally, he was creating specific elements from scratch. In one of the interviews, Gregory says that some of the Los Angeles families inspired him. And the last scene copied the 1959 movie The World of Apu.

❓ Who are the main characters in Mi Familia?

There is a long list of the main characters of Mi Familia, which includes all family members. The story is told by Paco, the eldest son of Jose and Maria, the seniors and heads of the family. Irene, who owns a restaurant, is the oldest daughter. There are also Jimmy and Isabel, Toni, Memo, and Chucho.

❓ How does Jose meet Maria?

Jose meets Maria in the US. Maria is an American citizen, and Jose immigrates to Los Angeles. When he goes to another neighborhood, he meets Maria. They fall in love and get married. Some time and two children later, Maria gets deported to Mexico. She has to make a long two-year journey back to her family.


  1. 2020. Mi Familia (My Family) (1995) | UC Berkeley Library. [online]
  2. McCarthy, T., and McCarthy, T., 1995. My Family/Mi Familia. [online] Variety.
  3. 2020. Nava, Gregory (1949–) | Encyclopedia.Com. [online]

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