MADRID – Nothing to do on your vacation? Set up in front of your TV and put on a Netflix series from Spain. Choose from historical dramas, thrilling crime thrillers, adventurous road trips or a successful youth drama set against a Spanish background. It´s the perfect way to develop your understanding of Spanish especially if you can add subtitles in your own language.
Whether produced especially for the streaming service (Las Chicas del Cable and Élite) or bought by Netflix (Catedral del Mar, Toy Boy), the southern European country has produced some exciting series that offers you the best entertainment, while important stories are told. What is your favourite?
El Inocente – The Innocent (2021)
The road to hell is paved with good intentions, Mateo Vidal (Mario Casa) can attest. It’s been nine years since he was responsible for the death of a man while trying to resolve a dispute. While he is free again, his pregnant wife disappears during a business trip. Everything points to this being a deliberate act of revenge against Mateo. The Netflix miniseries is an adaptation of Harlan Coben’s novel The Innocent.
El Desorden que Dejas – The Mess you Leave behind (2020)
The Spanish-language miniseries, a psychological thriller about two literature teachers in northwestern Spain, has only eight episodes. The plot of the Netflix series is told on two-time levels. Therefore, we see Viruca (Bárbara Lennie) and her successor Raquel (Inma Cuesta) as they go about their daily lives. This is characterised by intrigue, affairs and crime. Raquel also tries to figure out the circumstances under which her polarising predecessor died – putting herself in ever greater danger in the process. At the heart of the story is the question, “How far would you go to protect your darkest secrets?”
La Casa de Papel – Money Heist
Originally, this touching drama about a group of honourable robbers was supposed to end after one season: “Money Heist” was produced as a miniseries for Spanish television. Then Netflix took over the distribution license and reduced the episodes so that 15 episodes of 70 minutes each became 22 episodes of approximately 45 minutes. The new narration format and story were so well received by Netflix audiences that additional seasons were produced.
The series follows two consecutive robberies committed by the enigmatic professor and his team of chosen lepers; over time, the sometimes very contradictory characters become a family. A spin-off about the sociopathic genius Berlin is in the works.
Las Chicas del Cable – Cable Girls (2017)
This feminist Netflix series presents an exciting mix of crime and drama while tackling serious issues such as domestic violence and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community and people with mental illness. The focus is on four young women who work in the 1920s for the first telephone company in the metropolis of Madrid. They are looking for their place in a world marked by tumult. The story makes the friendship of the four women a priority and that friendship then forms the common thread through everything that happens. However, as the later seasons progress, the twists and turns become more and more absurd and the romantic conflicts more and more exhausting.
Elite – Elite (2018)
Intrigue, forbidden affairs, blackmail and even murder: the students of the elite Las Encinas high school go to great lengths to protect their dark secrets. The youth drama Élite mainly uses familiar story structures, but unlike other teen soaps, the series draws its characters in such a complex and interesting way that you can sympathis
e with everyone. In addition, the Spanish producer knows how to combine the plot of the first three seasons (which revolve around the murder of a schoolgirl) artistically.
La Catedral del Mar & Los Herederos de la Tierra (2022)
The two series based on Ildefonso Falcones’ novel duo are both set in 14th-century Barcelona, at the height of the city’s commercial and military might in the Mediterranean. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Mar was also built during the same period. It serves as the background for the story. Both historical dramas are about social injustice, love, family and honour.
La Cocinera de Castamar – The Cook of Castamar (2021)
A talented chef (Michelle Jenner) stirs things up in this historical drama set in Madrid in 1720, based on Fernando J. Muñez’s novel of the same name. The story is set in the oppressive context of 18th-century Spanish society under the rule of Felipe V. It is a classic tale full of eroticism, deceptive political co-plotting, prejudice and the conservative aesthetic that was typical of the time. Combining the class-spanning romance of Downton Abbey with the political intrigue of the Tudors, the story draws viewers in with its dreamy locations and meticulously detailed scenes.
Sky Rojo (2021)
‘Hustlers’ meets ‘Thelma & Louise’ meets ‘Sucker Punch’: that’s the best way to describe this shrill road movie in the form of a series by Alex Piña. Three prostitutes Coral, Wendy and Gina are on the run from their pimps. Being a matter of life or death for the ladies, they make one unreasonable decision after another. During exciting chases, the viewer learns through flashbacks how the ladies ended up in the oldest profession in the world. With catchy music and a lot of humour, it is a fast one. And that is of course a compliment. The result is an exciting series.
Alta Mar – High Seas (2019)
On the maiden voyage of the cruise ship ‘Bárbara de Braganza’ in the late 1940s, a stowaway falls overboard. Who was the woman? And was her fall an accident, or did someone push her? Writer Eva Villanueva sets out to get to the bottom of the puzzling circumstances, while also promoting a dark secret of her family related to Spain’s Nazi past.
La Monja Guerrera – Warrior Nun (2020)
Based on the comics of the same name, ‘Warrior Nun’ tells the story of a secret organization of warrior nuns who secretly work to protect humanity from demons. When their leader dies, a mysterious artefact chooses their successor. The problem is that this is a teenage orphan (Alba Baptista) with no training as a warrior who has no idea what it means to be part of a community. Despite being a Spanish Netflix production, all the characters speak English to each other in this internationally cast Netflix series.
Toy Boy (2019)
After serving seven years in prison for murder, stripper Hugo (Jesús Mosquera) is determined to bring his ex-lover to justice. She blamed him for the crime after Hugo couldn’t remember anything after a night of drinking and sex. Together with his lawyer Triana (María Pedraza from ‘Élite’) and his colleagues from the strip club Inferno, Hugo goes on a journey through the underworld of Marbella to find answers.
Valeria 1 (2020)
In the Spanish answer to ‘Sex and the City’, a young married writer (Diana Gómez from ‘Money Heist’) wanders off: an old acquaintance (Maxi Iglesias) of her best friend awakens long-repressed desires in her. Her friend Nerea, on the other hand, experiences her love for women freely for the first time. Carmen enters into a passionate relationship with a co-worker and Lola is determined to enjoy her single life. The series is based on the novels “En los zapatos de Valeria” by Elisabet Benavent.