Why Money Heist rocks on Netflix
La Casa de Papel, aka Money Heist in English, so far has become the most popular foreign show in the UK and beyond. Let us find out together why this cracking Spanish thriller stirs the blood.
While staying at home and keeping safe, I am pretty sure that you have already watched The Wire and Friends at least twice till you got fucking sick of both. Now you might be asking: “Is that all I deserve on Netflix?” Take it easy, there definitely must be something that you are missing on. How about a fantabulous world-changing show that will turn you on? Let me bring it on for you!
Another 8 episode run of Money Heist begins on Netflix this week, which is now the most-watched non-English language show widespread. For those who are out of touch, the first season of this kick-ass thriller acquaints us with its main characters, who are all code-named after major cities and dressed in revolutionary-red overalls and Salvador Dalí masks. The gang breaks into the Royal Mint of Spain, takes 67 people hostage, and literally prints 2.4B euros. Money Heist plot does not always follow a well-defined storyline, yet it has managed to result in 3 shit-hot romances and an island escape. The third season is even wilder and shows that loyalty is not a less a priority for the gang than their loot.
Álex Pina, the show’s Madrid-based creator believes that the latest season has the power to “infuse some oxygen into this disturbing climate … it is a brutal journey to the limit, like a ride on a vertiginous roller coaster. I can promise the audience will not think of Covid-19 while watching it.” Locked Up, the women’s prison drama, as well as High Seas, the 1940s-set mystery, and teen thriller Elite have drawn the attention of large international audiences on Netflix in recent years.
Although, Money Heist is on a higher level. Just after its arrival, the thriller became the single most-watched series in such countries as France, Italy, Argentina, and Brazil. What is more, its third series, released last year, was watched by 34M households in its first week alone. Hot damn!
In fact, it has made a lot of noise worldwide: its die-hard fans send Pina pictures of tattoos of Tokyo and the Professor, and the gang’s masks and overalls now rival The Handmaid’s Tale bonnet for the most recognizable TV costume of recent years. These costumes were worn on political protests in Puerto Rico and during a real-life robbery in the French city of Nantes. How crazy is that even Argentinian babies were called after its protagonists.
So why Money Heist plot makes a splash with the crowd? The reason for that is its diversity. The third season opener proves it best, where characters switch between emotional extremes and glamorous locations at breakneck speed. “It’s pure rock’n’roll,” says Álvaro Morte, who plays the gang’s meticulous mastermind, the Professor. “Once you see the first chapter of the show, you are lost in it.”
“It has something different, especially for non-Spanish people,” adds Úrsula Corberó, Money Heist leading actress and his costar. She stars as Tokyo, a hot chick and the gang member, who is obsessed with drinking rum and dancing salsa with strangers. “We have this way of expressing ourselves, of exchanging our feelings that goes through the screen.” Pina admits that cultural peculiarities are one of the show’s key selling points: “In Money Heist, feelings, fraternity, and love are as important as the plots. A perfect heist, rational and cool, becomes something else when spiced up with Latin emotions.”
A prime example of such contrast in action is the tragic dynamic between the Professor and his love interest-cum-arresting officer Raquel (Itziar Ituño).
On the whole, it can also be described as a genuine Spanish heist drama in contrast to dull, grim British analogs or pared down Scandi crime shows. According to Pina’s words, the main line of Money Heist plot lies in Spanish literature’s great foundational text: “To rise up against the system is reckless and idealistic – [it’s] Don Quixote! Yet I think it is much more Latin than Spanish; more passionate. In that, it differs from the English ‘perfect heist’ genre, which is cooler, more restrained, more scientific.”
Money Heist has nothing to do with restraint as Netflix has already increased the show’s budget for the new season full of high-octane stunts and ever-more lavish production values (in July, the previous season Variety was evaluated to be Spain’s biggest-budgeted series-per-episode ever).
Úrsula Corberó also admits that the passion of characters can be unpredictable even for their co-creators: “If by this time, we did not know our characters well, it would be unforgivable.” “But the scriptwriters still have the ability to surprise us.” She has got a point indeed as at the end of the third season the Professor gets injured, and it becomes the impetus for the character’s inner changes in the fourth season.
“I think characters should always develop and evolve. If they do not, they are flat,” acknowledges Morte. “I used to be the kind of actor that would read a script and I would think: ‘Oh my God! My character would never say that!’ Now I have changed my mindset. All the characters, especially the Professor, still have many things to show.” His loyal admirers are now puzzling over whether he will take revenge on the police or will go insane.
The show is also known for its “anti-system” philosophy, which is reflected in the Italian protest song Bella Ciao, the gang’s borrowed anthem. “Scepticism towards governments, central banks, the system … This notion would not sink in unless it was formulated within an entertaining narrative. The action genre used to be considered shallow and superficial, and social movies as boring. Why not put these two concepts together?”
The world global crisis of 2008 was one of the major reasons why this escapist fable has gained so much popularity. Among others, Morte embraced the story’s mood and atmosphere while he was watching the news one evening: “On the Mediterranean, an immigrants’ boat was trying to reach the Spanish coast. When they were rescued, they started singing Bella Ciao. It is something that will stay with me forever.”
Even though the thriller was recognized internationally, its popularity in the UK was a bit delayed as it was not included in Netflix’s Top 10 at that time. Despite the absence of its end date, you should clearly understand that Money Heist is available for you here and now to wile away the time. “We are here to tell whatever we need to tell in the shortest way,” he says. “We are here to shoot guns at close range, to empty magazines tirelessly … we would rather the audience switched off the TV with racing hearts than out of boredom.” So now, latecomers, have a blast and keep up with the rest of the world!