Based on Professor Beltran's comment from last entry, I decided to observe carefully at Manny's accent and its function in the show. Before, I start anaylze the Light Work episode, here's the brief plot summary.
Manny and the tools were finishing up the day at work. Suddenly, the phone rings at the Manny's repair shop. It's from Mrs. Portillo. Her chandelier was broken and needed to be fixed right away. When Manny and the tools arrived at Mrs. Protillo, there is no light to brighten up the room to fix the chandelier. Mrs. Portillo wants to decorate her bakery with the Mexican paper flowers on the first day of Spring. Luckily, Manny and the tools figured out the way to brighten up the room.
First of all, I thought it was interesting how Mrs. Portillo, specifically mentions Oxaca, Mexico in this episode. She said that she learned how to make the Mexican paper from her aunt who lives in Oxaca, Mexico. I've never heard Oxaca, Mexico specifically mentioned in the television show before, therefore, this was pretty interesting. I guess given that Handy Manny is an educational program, naming the particular region may be to educate preschool viewers on geography. Also, by depicting tools embracing the Mexican paper flowers delivered a sense that Meixcan traditions are not alien or foreign, rather it was seen as a form of beauty.
Focusing on Manny's accent within this episode, I have noticed an interesting portrayals of the characters. Mrs. Portillo strongly identifies herself with the Mexican culture, so I was not surprised to see her in strong accent in the show. Manny also carries an accent, yet it is not too strong to be ridiculed or mocked if it were in primetime shows. As I have posted previously, Wilmer Valderrama plays the voice of Manny. In That's 70s show, Wilmer plays Fez with strong Latino accent, yet in Handy Manny, he lowered his tone of voice and softened his accents. He does not sound like a stereotypical Latino Buffon in Handy Manny; instead, his solid voice portrays him as a deligent and credible man in the town. Also, another thing I have noticed is that although all the tools are bilingual in the show, only Felipe (yellow screwdriver) has the accent. All the tools speak both in English and in Spanish; however, Felipe is the only character within the tool who carries the accent when speaking in English. I thought it was interesting that the writers or producers chose only one character to carry accent. It did not separate from Felipe from the rest of the tools because they convey the strong imag of tools being a family; however, it certainly delivers his personality in different ways. He is often portrayed as a trouble maker and sometimes as an arrogant tool.
It seemed like there are three levels of accents represented in the show. There are Kelly and Mr. Lopart who speak standard American English; they do not have accents. Next, there are Manny, Felipe and Mrs. Portillo. These characters are bilingual. Although they speak good English and fluent in Spanish, thse characters have accents when speaking in English. Hence, they are described as non native English speakers. Lastly, there are tools. They are the perfect example of bilingual characters so to speak. They are fluent in English with no accent; they speak standard English like Kelly. However, they still embrace Spanish and the Latino culture.
Link: Light Work Episode