With ‘Primo,’ Shea Serrano Points His Gleeful Pen Homeward

Schur was charmed. He also liked Serrano’s pitch for “Primo,” which he heard for the first time that day: a series about a San Antonio teen, Rafa (nicknamed Primo, which translates to “cousin” in English, and played by Ignacio Diaz-Silverio), who navigates life with his single mother, Drea (Christina Vidal), and five eccentric uncles. Drea works at a corner store, just like Serrano’s mother did.

Though set in the present day, “Primo” is based loosely on Serrano’s adolescence; in real life, his father was on the scene, but the writers determined that including him would mean less uncle hilarity, Serrano said. Overall, they took an upbeat, family-friendly approach, even as it depicts a family with its fair share of challenges.

Once production began, Vidal said, Serrano was a constant source of energy on set: “He would come on set every day and just walk around giving everybody fist bumps, giving everybody compliments, thanking everybody for being there and just encouraging, encouraging, encouraging.”

Post-migas, Serrano, dressed in khakis and a blue hoodie, drove his Tesla to the home of one of the real uncles, Brian. In “Primo,” Brian is Ryan (Carlos Santos), a comically proud bank manager who lords his scant white-collar résumé over his blue-collar brothers.

Brian Serrano, who works in the energy industry, was the uncle who helped convince the teenage Shea to go to college, much as Ryan does with Rafa. (Shea, who studied psychology at Sam Houston State University, in Huntsville, was the first in his family to get a degree).

“He was a really good kid,” Brian Serrano said, “and a really straight arrow.” To this day, Shea said, he has never been drunk. He saw a lot of people in his old neighborhood succumb to addiction and had no interest in joining them.

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