TV Reviews

Elite is your new favourite Spanish teen tv show

Elite is the Netflix binge I can’t stop thinking about.

It’s The OC blended with Big Little Lies with sexy Spanish culture and then chuck in some full nudity for good measure. It’s a murder mystery with high school drama and every social issue Degrassi would tackle all in one. It’s smart, visually stunning and ridiculously addictive.

Vulture described it this way: “Elite, Netflix’s new entry into the “horny teens behaving badly” category of TV dramas.” Netflix is branding it as ‘Spanish Gossip Girl’.

Aka – you know you’re going to love it.

The show will hook you with the murder mystery that is central to the plot. You will have so many questions after the first five minutes but I promise you – it will all get answered. Yes, you will want to know who is killed and who is the murder and why – but the joy of the show is watching the plot catch up to this moment over the course of the season.

Impressively, this show has a large ensemble cast with complex character development. This is a show driven by characters and their choices. Everyone could easily be the murder and you will fall hard for these ridiculously good-looking teenagers.

As a group, they are interwoven and critical to each other’s development – but they don’t come off as a clump. Each character has depth. You can’t help but feel empathetic for each character’s situation – even when they are being straight up awful.

Particularly striking are the ladies of the show – Mina El Hammani’s Nadia, María Pedraza’s Marina, Ester Expósito’s Carla, and Danna Paola’s Lu.

Nadia is in a league of her own – I cannot think of another teen show that gives us such a compelling portrait of a contemporary Muslim teenager. Fitting in while wearing a hijab, managing her parent’s expectations against her own wants and needs, and figuring out who she wants to be. She’s not always right – but she’s so earnest and endearing that you want her to win (whatever that might mean). Her relationship with Miguel Bernardeau’s Guzmán is my favourite storyline of the whole show.

Between Lu, Carla and Marina you get to see what female aggression looks like. “Relational aggression” is well explored with these three. Watching the power plays they make is watching master manipulators. They manipulate each other and all the boys around them. The poor boys have no idea how much power these ladies have. Grouping these three is unfair because they are so individualistic – but they are so intrinsically linked. The ups and downs of their relationships push the plot and make the show that much more interesting.

 

So much of the plot is how these young women control the boys around them. Marina gets tied up with both Samuel(Itzan Escamilla) and his older brother Nano (Jaime Lorente). Samu and Nano have an intense brotherly bond that is fascinating and heartbreaking to watch… but I’d contribute that to the fact that Samu, in general, is heartbreaking to watch.

Clara has Polo (Álvaro Rico) and Christian (Miguel Herrán) wrapped around her finger. This is the storyline that makes me yell DO NOT TELL YOUR TEENAGERS TO WATCH THIS SHOW. It is solidly rated R. But for adults watching this show – it is an intense storyline that leaves you wanting more. I’d watch a show about these just three. It like nothing you’ve seen in teen tv shows.

Netflix has conveniently laid out an argument for why Omar (Omar Ayuso) is one of the best characters on this show so I’m just going to let them explain it. Warning.. There are major spoilers – but if you’ve seen the show this is the perfect way to think of this character – if you haven’t just get excited about discovering Omar’s greatness and his strong storyline with Ander (Arón Piper).

Then there is Guzmán. Ugh – how I love/hate this character. He would be so easy to just straight up dismiss as a rich alpha male – but again the depth to this character is so compelling you get pulled in by him. He’s so charming and good looking but it’s his rough edges that make him so interesting. His relationship with his sister Marina, his on-again-off-again Lu, and his classmate Nadia are amazing to watch.

Elite rounds out it’s well-developed characters and killer plot with stunning cinematography. It feels very cinematic – all those cool blues and greys and pops of red.

I said at the beginning that Elite reminded me of The OC – not only because it’s a teen drama, but because it’s about class. The core of the show is a divide between the haves and the have-nots. Watching the two groups navigate and find their place in this social structure is fascinating.

It has that Ryan Atwood entering Newport vibe – it’s just missing Guzman welcoming Christian, Sam and Nadia with an iconic ‘Welcome to The OC Bitch’ line.  That said – the insults that do fly on this show are so cutting and feel so much less cheesy because they are speaking Spanish.

Like The OC – this show has a stellar soundtrack. The soundtrack just feels rich. It’s cool, sophisticated, and classic. The music is seamlessly integrated into the show with a mix of Spanish and English songs.  Elite even takes an iconic song off The OC soundtrack – Alphaville’s Forever Young – and spins it for its own phenomenal moment.

Let’s just hope Elite doesn’t ‘OC’ and have a phenomenal first season and then go downhill and crash and burn – because it’s already been renewed for season two and I cannot wait.

ALSO – please Please PLEASE watch this show in the original Spanish/English Subtitles. Do not – I repeat – DO NOT watch this with English dubbing even though Netflix will try to force that option off you. Go into your settings and set it up for SPANISH! I promise you will thank me.

If you’ve finished the show – send me a message. I want to discuss ALL the details and make some predictions for season two!

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