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Sundial: How growing up in Miami inspired the hit HBO sitcom ‘Gordita Chronicles’

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Courtesy Of Claudia Forestieri
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The "Gordita Chronicles" comedy series launched on HBO Max in the summer. It was unceremoniously dropped in December.

At 7 years old, Claudia Forestieri and her Dominican family moved to Miami.

It wasn’t exactly a warm welcome.

She got made fun of at school for her English and her weight. Classroom bullies called her "fatso" and one teacher left her outside all day — a punishment for speaking Spanish.

She found comfort in writing.

So when her elementary school held a writing contest, Forestieri figured she had a lot to say.

The prompt was “I Wish.” And Forestieri wrote: “I Wish I Were Skinny.” She won. But she didn’t know the principal would read the winning essay over the loudspeaker to the entire school.

It was humiliating. But it was the first time her writing was recognized. And it ignited her dream of becoming a writer.

Forestieri went on to write and produce her own show: the Gordita Chronicles — which launched on HBO Max in the summer.

The 10-episode comedy series is loosely based on her own life. The main character, Cucu, is a gordita transplanted from the Dominican Republic to Hialeah in the 1980s. She’s learning to navigate a country, a culture, that sees her very differently.

It’s a sweet, earnest, throw-back sitcom — and it instantly won over audiences and critics.

But despite rave reviews, the show was unceremoniously dropped by HBO. It's currently looking for a new home.

On the Jan. 19 episode of Sundial, we're joined by Forestieri to talk about how her personal experience of growing up in Miami inspired the show.

On Sundial's previous episode, we spoke with Stephen Fain, who was hired to be a professor of education at Florida International University before it opened in 1972. Now after over 50 years at the university, he's retiring.

Listen to Sundial Monday through Thursday on WLRN, 91.3 FM, live at 1 p.m., rebroadcast at 8 p.m. Missed a show? Find every episode of Sundial on your favorite podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Spotify.

Stay in touch with us via text by joining our Sundial text club. Send us your thoughts, ideas or questions by texting the word “join” to 786-677-0767. You can also email us at sundial@wlrnnews.org

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Carlos Frías is the host of WLRN's Sundial. He is a bilingual writer, a journalist of more than 25 years and the author of an award-winning memoir published by Simon & Schuster.
Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the lead producer behind WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. She previously produced Morning Edition newscasts at WLRN and anchored the midday news. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.
Elisa Baena is an associate producer for Sundial.