Menudo: Forever Young Filmmakers On Capturing All Sides Of Boy Bands Fame Contenders TV: Docs + Unscripted

Before there was New Kids on the Block and New Edition, Latin boy band Menudo was dominating the global stage with its bubble-gum pop sound and youthful vibrancy. Behind the scenes, however, everything was not as perfect as it seemed.

In the HBO Max documentary Menudo: Forever Young, filmmakers Angel Manuel Soto and Kristofer Ríos chronicle the rise and fall of the group — from cementing the band’s place in pop culture history to revealing never-before-heard allegations of abuse against founder Edgardo Diaz by various members.

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More than 40 members of Menudo participated in the four-part doc, all of who were pre-teens or teens when they joined and eventually replaced after they hit puberty. With their parents’ permission — which included signing over parental rights to Diaz — the boys set off in search of fortune and fame with varying results (two of the band’s most famous members, Ricky Martin and Robby Rosa, opted not to participate in Forever Young).

“What we realized going into this is that Menudo is iconic, not just for Puerto Ricans, but for the LatinX community as a whole. And we knew it was gonna be really tricky to both celebrate, but also reveal these things that people had known but didn’t really dig into,” Rios said during a panel discussion at Deadline’s Contenders Television: Documentary + Unscripted. “The foundational principle for us was that both of these things can be true.”

He added: “This can be a band that is so near and dear to us in our hearts, but some ugly things can happen behind the scenes. And that’s worth exploring because we felt we really needed to understand the price these boys, now men, paid.”

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Allegations of physical, mental and sexual abuse had previously been made by former members against Diaz, and some of them played out in the media. Diaz has always maintained his innocence and has never faced charges in connection to those allegations.

The documentary has the most members of Menudo speaking out about their experiences to date.

“Their experiences haven’t always been bubble gum though it’s often portrayed as such, so it was important to us be delicate with their darkest moments. But also, we didn’t want to end on that note because since the ’90s the idea of Menudo disappeared or it was tarnished,” Soto said. “Thirty years later, these are the kids that we admired growing up and they’re still very much alive and doing great things. [We made this] with the idea of redemption and being able to to talk about past traumas and heal from it and grow in this constant process of deconstructing ourselves.

“We wanted to end it on the note of those kids are still out there, they still inspire us and their stories help us heal like many of them were able to do. It was a very collaborative healing process between us the filmmakers and the band.”

Check back Monday for the panel video.

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