Pop Culture Spin

‘Oz’ Characters Examined Part 12 – Miguel Alvarez

miguelalvarezOngoing for 25 total entries, I will be examining the best and most memorable figures from Oz. The prison show was HBO’s first venture into dramatic television, making the series a critical point of progress for the network. Many cast members went on to have bigger careers that partially spawned due to excellence on Oz. The majority of TV shows, past and current, don’t provide enough characters to justify a list of this length. 25 feels like an ideal total that should please fans of the show in addition to detailing a reasonable number of top notch personalities.

Subjective lists are inherently debatable as personal tastes and individual responses determine how a given character is viewed. In other words, disagreements/omissions will be a reality. The majority of days (weekends included) will feature either one or two articles from this list being published. Exceptions will be if I have an interview or otherwise important project to publish, in which case the Oz series may take a brief break. All prior entries will be linked at the bottom of every fresh article. If you’re a fan of the show and appreciate this project, please promote it widely and spread the word. Pop Culture Spin appreciates your efforts. Up next in the list, we have Miguel Alvarez, played by Kirk Acevedo.

Miguel Alvarez was one of the unluckiest figures of Oz. His face warranted sympathy – a tired, worn down look that screamed poor decisions and mistakes. In character bios, Alvarez is described as being of Cuban descent among other heritages, and he acts as the primary Latino individual on the show. Alvarez is also memorable since he’s from a family of criminals – his father and grandfather are both hardened lifers when he enters Oz.

As I’ve said throughout this list, not many primary characters survived the entire series. Along with Ryan O’Reily, Bob Rebadow, and Arnold “Poet” Jackson (already featured in this list) in addition to Tobias Beecher (will be featured later), Alvarez was one of five main characters to last six seasons without meeting death. He didn’t live without his tribulations, though. He was stabbed, took the eye out of a correctional officer, drank urine in solitary confinement to survive, and was repeatedly denied parole despite having a strong case.

The final straw for Alvarez is this parole rejection – once he’s denied and promised he’ll never be released so long as the current parole head is in place, Alvarez admits defeat and gives in to the weird advances of the Bobby Cannavale played Alonzo Torquemada character.

When thinking back on Oz, you can’t envision the series as a whole without reflecting on Alvarez’s journey. Audiences were made to like the character in spite of his violence and criminal motivations. With his family background and difficult upbringing, perhaps Oz also wanted to show that some people are simply predestined for a life of crime, and escaping the cage would be a far greater surprise than entering it. I’m glad Alvarez survived, but his survival begged a question – what’s living when life is nothing but pain?

Published Entries of my Examining Oz Characters List
Part 1 – Simon Adebisi / Part 2 – Father Ray Mukada / Part 3 – Chris Keller
Part 4 – Diane Whittlesbey / Part 5 – Bob Rebadow / Part 6 – Augustus Hill
Part 7 – Jaz Hoyt / Part 8 – Ryan O’Reily / Part 9 – Arnold “Poet” Jackson
Part 10 – Sister Peter Marie Reimondo / Part 11 – Shirley Bellinger / Part 12 – Miguel Alvarez
Part 13 – Warden Leo Glynn / Part 14 – Chucky Pancamo / Part 15 – Gloria Nathan
Part 16 – Cyril O’Reily / Part 17 – Governor James Devlin / Part 18 – Kareem Said
Part 19 – Kenny Wangler / Part 20 – Vernon Schillinger / Part 21 – Agamemnon Busmalis
Part 22 – Tim McManus / Part 23 – Enrique Morales / Part 24 – Burr Redding / Part 25 – Tobias Beecher

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