BARRIO (ScreenRant) – Neon, the latest comedy series on Netflix, celebrates Latino culture and reggaeton with effervescence and style. Co-creators Shea Serrano and Max Searle, who also serves as showrunner, developed the story about one young Puerto Rican’s dream of making it big in reggaeton using his raw talent, infectious charm, and perseverance. The show contains eight 30-minute episodes, each filled with excitement, infectious performances, and music you can’t help but dance along to. With the talented cast including Tyler Dean Flores, Emma Ferreira, Jordan Mendoza, and Courtney Taylor, this is the kind of series you watch for great young talent, stay for the cool music, and binge for the juicy storylines.
The story follows Santi (Tyler Dean Flores), an aspiring reggaeton artist navigating life from his hustling days in small-town Florida to success in the vibrant city of Miami. To make it big in the world of reggaeton, Santi brings along his best friends Vanessa “Ness” (Emma Ferreira), who acts as his music manager, and Felix (Jordan Mendoza), an aspiring artistic director and social media manager. Throughout the series, the trio comes across friends and foes in the entertainment business and experience plenty of obstacles in their friendships along their way to fame. But when it matters most, they stand together in support of one another to chase their dreams.
Neon peels back the curtains on fame to reveal the persistence required to make it in the music industry. While it doesn’t always capture a realistic viewpoint related to the increasing involvement of online versus “natural” fame, the story criticizes the many faces of Hollywood in ways we can relate to. As Santi rises through the ranks in stardom, he is tested with his friendships, artistry, the concept of selling out, and rivalry with a successful reggaeton star named Javier (Jhayco), who wants to turn his talents towards magic. While his role is smaller relative to other supporting characters, Javier serves as an important reminder of authenticity, a concept that Santi consistently struggles with throughout the series.
As the episodes progress, Santi, Ness, and Felix take small opportunities and turn them into major breakthroughs, which is a great lesson for those pursuing their dreams. Not everything is handed to them, which offera some realism in a show about stardom. We don’t often see it, but it’s always welcomed to ensure we can relate to the characters experiencing these moments. Interestingly enough, Courtney Taylor’s character, Mia, goes through the opposite, where she has to make every opportunity for herself. Though Neon never takes the subtle approach when it comes to Mia’s storyline, it offers an extremely important message about the different experiences people may have when it comes to opportunity.
It doesn’t always feel like a comedy thanks to some important messaging and heartfelt moments between Santi, Ness, and Felix. However, the series takes a turn to ramp up the funny just when you feel like it could lose its momentum. Specifically, one of the later episodes introduces Isa (Genesis Rodriguez), one of the biggest pop stars who’s had a long career in the industry. Desperate to keep her fame, she partners with Santi in more ways than one to rebrand herself and embrace her Latina heritage. It isn’t enough to say that Rodriguez brings the laughs in Neon. Truth be told, she dominates every scene she’s in and steals the show.
It also goes without saying, but in a series that focuses on the music and entertainment industry, the music had better be on point. Luckily, Neon comes with the heat, ensuring the music is the best part of the show. The pride of reggaeton music and Latino culture is heavy throughout, and it is without a doubt the highlight of every single episode. The music is so rich and exciting that it’ll have you ready to dance every time you hear that beautiful reggaeton beat drop. So, if for nothing else, Neon is worth watching for the music you get to enjoy.
A tale about the grind of making dreams come true, Neon is entertaining and full of life, great performances, and fantastic music. It doesn’t necessarily reveal any secrets about rising through the ranks in Hollywood nor does it share things we already don’t know. Yet, the story and characters are compelling to make this vibrant eight-episode series an enjoyable watch. Despite leaving a few questions unanswered, Neon doesn’t warrant a second season, which is great for those of us who like quick and easy shows to binge over a weekend. And as a bonus, you can dance along to some great music and enjoy some laughter along the way.