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It’s rare when a father and daughter team up for a network sitcom — even more so when they’re comedians George Lopez and Mayan Lopez, co-starring opposite each other as TV versions of themselves in “Lopez vs. Lopez,” premiering Friday (8 p.m.) on NBC.
That the real George and Mayan were estranged from each other for nearly a decade lends “Lopez vs. Lopez” an air of authenticity as their onscreen alter-egos try to mend emotional fences that were ripped apart by George’s shortcomings as a father and a husband.
“About two years ago I made a TikTok responding to someone making claims on some of our family dynamics … my dad being unfaithful, my mom giving him a kidney and then their divorce,” Mayan Lopez, 26, told The Post. “You know what? I’m a comedian. I thought, ‘What can I do to get someone’s attention for the joke?’ I’m going to twerk upside down on a wall, and so I did. Our showrunner, Debby Wolfe, was procrastinating on TikTok, as you do, so we got together [for the sitcom],” she said.
As the series opens, George Lopez and his daughter, Mayan, are trying to heal a deep family rift triggered by George cheating on his now-ex-wife, Rosie (Selenis Leyva). George is helping Mayan — who’s living with her significant other, Quinten (Matt Shively) — renovate her kitchen (sort of) and trying to bond with his young grandson Chance (Brice Gonzalez) in a bid to move the family one step closer to forgiveness on all fronts.
“I’ve been in therapy for many years and I thought, ‘Oh, I’m going to teach my character some things,’ but really she’s teaching me a lot about how to communicate with my dad with authority,” Mayan said. “Sometimes we have to check with each other after a scene and go, ‘Are you OK?’
“I think some wounds never heal,” she said of their real-life relationship. “[Working together] hasn’t been easy but it’s very cathartic. I think the past can be in the past and we can build a better future with one another.”
George Lopez, of course, famously starred on the ABC sitcom “George Lopez” for six seasons; Mayan said she spent a lot of time on that set as a kid and has taken some of that experience into their new NBC venture.
“I studied comedy writing and performance in college … my whole train was that I wanted to be on ‘Saturday Night Live,’” she said. “I studied sketch comedy and improvisation and finished the conservatory at Second City in Chicago, so I’m very familiar with performing in front of a live audience … and also just growing up on the set of [‘George Lopez’] and being able to hear the audience — that’s kind of become second nature and that muscle has only gotten stronger as we’ve gotten more into the development of the show.
“This season we have Cheech Marin and Rita Moreno [as guest stars], huge icons to be able to work with, as well as a cameo from the original cast of ‘George Lopez.’ That was a ‘whole circle’ moment and the tears were real in that scene,” she said. “If you’re a fan of the original show you’ll love ‘Lopez vs. Lopez’ because we are just a family that happens to be Latino — some of the issues are important and specific to our community but really speak to the family dynamic as a whole.”
She said the the show has also helped her discover more about her offscreen relationship with George.
“I’m almost able to see my relationship with my dad from an outside perspective and I know that, like many father/daughter dynamics, as you get older you start to see your parents as people, so maybe you understand them in a different way and you’re able to talk and educate,” she said. ” ‘Lopez vs. Lopez’ is also the older generation versus the younger generation so it’s OK to talk about our feelings.
“It’s not a sign of weakness,” she said. “It’s actually very brave to talk and have these honest conversations because my dad and I realized how precious time is — and I think for both of us, the relationship with each other was so important that we couldn’t pass it up.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”