‘The Pineapple Diaries’ Web Series a Love Letter to Jamaica Plain

WBUR published a fantastic article this week spotlighting Paloma Valenzuela, a writer and filmmaker, and the creative mind behind “The Pineapple Diaries,” described as “a ‘Girls’-esque slice-of-life web series” that is set and filmed in Jamaica Plain.

The colorful, comedic web series, which can be enjoyed in its entirety here, is part sitcom, part ode to JP. As WBUR explains:

“The Pineapple Diaries” presents familiar 20-something struggles: from navigating an unfulfilling job, to rediscovering oneself after a divorce, to trying to become an Internet celebrity in our social media-obsessed age.

These heartfelt, humorous stories find undeniable authenticity while portrayed through a rich cultural lens that’s often overlooked when people think of Jamaica Plain today.

The crew made it a point to film the web series entirely on location in Jamaica Plain, even down to enlisting local businesses as active, real-time sets. For the most part, this initiative was met with enthusiasm, excitement and even gratitude. Valenzuela shares stories of bodega shopkeepers who patiently allowed her crew to film with barely an hour’s notice, and of one restaurant owner who agreed to participate, but didn’t want to close down for the duration of the shoot — resulting in a scene shot in the middle of the hustle and bustle of lunch-hour rush.

Watching the series trailer, you’ll spot Jackson Square T station, Bromley Heath, Jamaica Pond, Tostada, Miami Restaurant, several bodegas, JP’s famously colorful murals and a number of other familiar spaces along Centre Street.

But beyond highlighting the sights and sounds that make JP sing, Valenzuela also hopes the web series will start a conversation about gentrification in the neighborhood:

“I think the issue of gentrification is something that I want to bring up again. [In one episode], the characters felt like it was weird for them to go to the JP Pond. That isn’t somewhere that most people of color in the JP community go to. I wanted to touch on that concept — that not everything in JP is for everybody,” Valenzuela says. “We can’t all afford the wonderful things that are happening here. I think just the fact of seeing something based in JP with a variety of diverse characters is the way I want to see JP, and remember JP and feel about JP. It’s important for me that we have these Latino restaurants and that we have local businesses that feel accessible to us. Those are the places where the characters are showing up because I would never want to see those businesses go away.”

We strongly encourage you to read the full article on WBUR’s website, and check out the web series, of course.

  • Beliza Veras-Moriarty

    I wouldn’t say Girls esque! I find that show a bit nasty. There are themes about dating and being single but this is more about culture and being Dominican American which I happen to be. Sadly also about a rapidly fading community in Jamaica Plain

  • Patty

    i really enjoyed the series and will be forwarding the info to “my JP kids and friends ” who now live elsewhere. Paloma is a gifted writer but I agree with Beliza..the cast of “girls” are self centered, shallow people. I loved seeing all my favorite JP sites. Just a quick note on gentrification….I came here in the 50’s from a nonEnglish speaking country. I grew up in Bromley Heath for awhile and eventually moved elsewhere. With hardwork and studying got a good job and eventually bought a condo back when mortgage rates were 12%. My property has tripled but so has that of my neighbors who have lived here as long as I have. I lived here in the 70’s and 80’s when people were fleeing JP so do not get angry at those of us who stuck it out and will eventually profit. I know it is hard for young people to buy here(my own daughter had to go elsewhere) but most of us who will profit in the future will do so after weathering many years of violence, blight, abandoned properties…at one point this was the area with the highest rate of auto theft in the state. Sorry comments not really relevant to the show which I loudly applaud. These young actors are so talented and the stories cross all racial/ethnic lines etc of anyone in a changing area. Kudos and cannot wait to see more. Thank you

  • Brian

    It has never been called JP Pond.

    • Malena

      Latinos have always called it that. I go back to the 70’s and that’s what we called it. However, I don’t agree with Paloma that Latinos don’t frequent it. Have you been there on a hot day? There are whole families sitting in lawn chairs by their cars, talking and watching their kids playing. Also, many Latinos, especially men have always gone there to fish. I do think though that if you live between Hyde Square and Bromley Heath and you don’t own a car, then it’s not likely that you are going to trek all the way to JP Pond.

  • Brian

    Maybe I’m more outta it than I thought, but I thought that gentrification had already taken an extremely strong hold upon JP. Not only is it not the JP I grew up in, I could never afford to live there now even in an apartment. The drug store where I worked is now an artisan burrito place and all the shops and restaurants are skewed towards the wealthier members of the community. Is there currently gentrification upon gentrification or is it more that Hyde Square is becoming increasingly gentrified?