Culture Shock

By: Joel Marino

Hot dogs taste best slathered in avocado and mayonnaise.

When in doubt, just take a big gulp of piscola, the drink of gentlemen.

Oh, and nothing boosts confidence like a little bull semen behind the ears.

At least that’s some of the advice thrown about in Gringolandia, a hilarious web series shot in English and Spanish chronicling the misadventures of a Chilean immigrant in New York.

The show’s six episodes (all released on YouTube simultaneously last month) are short glimpses into the life of Peter (Koke Santa Ana), a fast-talking, fun-loving migrant who follows his gringo girlfriend, Stacey (Nicole Schneider), to the Big Apple. He tries to make it big there by running his own Chilean hot dog cart, but cultural differences and a cast of eccentric characters keep spoiling his American dream.

The sitcom is shot in a faux-documentary style reminiscent of The Office and Modern Family, meaning we get lots of one-on-one time with the wily Peter as he tries to make sense of his new surroundings. These little interviews give Santa Ana, a genuine YouTube star in his home country, plenty of time to show off his comedy chops, and he plays the part with relish. “Seventy-four percent of Americans would eat a hot dog any time of the day,” he says in broken English while practicing an absurd business pitch. “The solution? Chilean completes,” he says, botching the translation of what down under they call a “completo.”

However, the star of the show is the script, which casts a spotlight on lesser-known Chilean customs like the pisco-and-Coke concoction, piscola, while also poking fun at American ignorance (Chile is called a third-world country or a part of Mexico more than once).

We’re sure hoping Gringolandia makes it to the planned second season. And if it makes piscola the next big thing here, even better.

Joel Marino is a NYC-based freelance writer and editor who enjoys traveling and saying “I told you so” as much as possible. When not writing, he spends his time on a never-ending quest to find the perfect empanada.