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Latino Americans

Fri Nov 1, 10.15-11.25pm, PBS America

Episode one
It’s easy to forget how turbulent the relatively recent history of America actually is. This six-part documentary promises an overview of the American Latino story. But what it actually offers up is a beginners’ guide to the forming of America itself, complete with more sieges, annexations and reckless colonialist expansions than you could shake a matchlock musket at.

The end result of all this jostling for space was the eventual marginalisation of some of the earliest combatants in the land grab, including Native Americans (who were, of course, there in the first place) and also Latinos. This is all explored in PBS’s trademark style, which could be kindly described as stately and more snarkily as ponderous. It’s utterly solid, while making us grateful for the lively and argumentative likes of Simon Schama who remind us that historical documentaries can be a more challenging and thought-provoking experience than this.