When I traveled to Havana to conduct the research for this book, I had a
very specific television routine. In the evenings I began with the one- and-a-
half-hour program Mesa redonda, a politically dogmatic panel show that, in
addition to addressing national and regional issues, devoted significant at-
tention to los imperialistas Yankees (Yankee imperialists). I then watched lo-
cally produced shows, including the evening news, a telenovela, and culture-
oriented programming. On some weeknights when I was able to stay awake
until midnight or so (the “so” here is in reference to Cuban television’s some-
times unpredictable programming schedule), I enjoyed subtitled episodes
of Grey’s Anatomy, The Sopranos, or whatever Hollywood series was being
broadcast. Occasionally, during the afternoons when my allergies forced me
to take a break from old documents, I joined my compañeras/os (comrades)
at the Centro de Investigaciones del Instituto Cubano de Radio y Televisión
and watched whatever Brazilian telenovela was on. This television viewing
experience was complemented with occasional chats about television with
other researchers at the Centro. It was during one of these conversations that
I confessed to them my latest guilty pleasure, 24.
To my surprise, many people at the Centro also liked 24, and given that I
had missed several episodes while being in Cuba, one of Centro’s researchers
was kind enough to bring me a dvd with the latest episodes. I still have no
clue how this compañera had access to episodes that had aired in the United
States for the first time only a couple of weeks earlier. Still, one thing was
evident like myself, my Cuban companions highly enjoyed U.S. television.
It did not matter that U.S. shows were broadcast late at night, many Cubans
patiently waited to watch them. As a Cuban friend once told me, “I wonder
what Gillian Anderson [costar of The X- Files] would say if she knew that la
Scully had a devoted fan- club in Cuba.” In fact, a researcher affiliated with
the Centro disclosed to me that, based on a nationwide survey conducted
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