The Apple TV+ bilingual comedy's "bobs and weaves between English and Spanish, which is immediately one of its most realistic and smartest attributes," says Caroline Framke. "Whenever native Spanish speakers are together, they speak in Spanish as they obviously would in real life. Whenever they’re at the hotel in front of their white guests and bosses, however, they’re forbidden from speaking Spanish and must speak in English. This immediate drawing of lines between staff and guests, 'us' and 'them,' is a key distinction for the series overall. Watching Acapulco, I ended up thinking about White Lotus, the recent HBO smash that takes place at a Hawaiian resort and splits its time between wealthy white guests and the staff who serve them. Both Acapulco and White Lotus are very good at slipping in moments of oblivious rich tourist privilege that cut like a knife, but unlike White Lotus, Acapulco is almost entirely unconcerned about who those tourists are. Aside from hotel owner Diane (Jessica Collins) and her himbo son Chad (Chord Overstreet), Acapulco is almost entirely about the local ecosystem the hotel dominates and the people caught in its wake, as few other shows are or would dare to be. On paper, this might not sound like a whole lot of fun. But Acapulco boasts enough sharp characterizations to make its gentle screwball comedy ping pong around the hotel with effervescent ease."
Acapulco is fun to watch, but it would be much better if it didn't aim to be universally appealing: "There will probably be some feigned surprise if Apple TV+’s Acapulco garners a wide following — or whatever counts as a wide following in a world without viewership data," says Daniel Fienberg. "This surprise will be silly and mostly an illustration of how entrenched we are in the perception that domestic audiences don’t like reading their television, because if ever a bilingual series was catering to the widest possible audience — probably to a fault — it’s Acapulco, which boasts a massive international star (Eugenio Derbez) at its center and takes loose 'inspiration' from an extremely successful movie toplined by Derbez (How to Be a Latin Lover) and more direct inspiration from an easily digestible assortment of coming-of-age favorites. The show’s blend — Caddyshack (or Red Oaks, or The Flamingo Kid) meets How I Met Your Mother meets Ugly Betty — is aggressively and exhaustively going for a crossover audience. And while I’m sure there will be justifiable quibbling in many quarters over its authenticity, the series’ familiar genre rhythms and progressive undercurrents are consistently likable." Fienberg adds: "The series is tied together by its episodic Spanish-language covers of various hit songs from the ’80s performed by Las Colinas’ poolside duet. The goal is to make you hum along before you realize that the song you thought you knew is being sung in Spanish. That’s one strategy for making a crossover hit easily palatable, and it’s an approach Acapulco has taken to heart. I’m not sure if Apple TV+ is planning to make a dubbed version available, but don’t even think about watching it that way. Talk about defeating the whole point."
Acapulco flips the script on whitewashed storytelling, putting the proper spotlight on its Latinx cast and characters: "On the one hand, Acapulco (created by Austin Winsberg, Eduardo Cisneros, and Jason Shuman) is itself a familiar blend of other shows: a generous serving of Eighties nostalgia (most notably resembling Amazon’s Red Oaks) sprinkled with a lot of How I Met Your Mother narrative devices and various coming-of-age clichés," says Alan Sepinwall. "On the other, it is set in Mexico with a multinational cast of actors and frequently toggles between English and subtitled Spanish dialogue. And it’s the characters from north of the border who are treated as the slightly caricatured interlopers here, while the deep roster of Latinx performers are given more complex roles. The show is not perfect, and at times often seems to aspire merely to pleasantness, but it’s frequently charming and clever, and combines its borrowed components into something that feels new more often than not."
Acapulco balances a postcard image with some of the harsher realities of working in a tourism town: "In a handful of scenes, the show explores the classist and sometimes racist tensions between wealthy tourists and the working class Mexicans who create the illusion of an exotic getaway for their customers," says Monica Castillo. "But for every unpleasantry, there is a comeuppance or punchline, letting our largely Mexican characters have the last laugh. It’s a subtle response to shows like Fantasy Island where the exoticism of a far-flung vacation was part of the appeal. It also runs counter to the service industry practice of forcing workers to endure customer insults or ignorance, letting the characters have a say in what’s happening to them. Acapulco is more interested in the lives of the resort workers, their failings, their personal triumphs, and their relationships than the impressions made for visiting tourists."
Enrique Arrizon's effortless charm makes Acapulco worth watching: "Switching between lovesick admirer, aspiring family provider, and occasional mischief maker, Arrizon handles each of those layers of Maximo with an honest eagerness," says Steve Greene. "Even though kind-hearted optimists aren’t always the easiest characters to build around (even with the runaway success story a few clicks away on the Apple TV+ menu), Acapulco shows that Maximo isn’t immune to some of the same assumptions and metaphorical blinders that his coworkers and family members sometimes fall prey to. And though the elder Maximo might be the one narrating the story, the rest of the people captured through his nostalgic lens still get plenty of screen time to benefit from that same depth. It’s impressive how quickly Acapulco settles on the ease of a workplace comedy. Even the characters like Memo, who show up initially as a means to serve up punchlines, get more to do as the season goes on. Julia grows into more than purely an object of Maximo’s affection. It doesn’t take long for Don Pablo, the decades-long hotel boss, to move beyond simply being the crusty stickler in charge."