What’s it about:
If you haven’t already tuned in since it was released earlier this year, it’s not as seedy as it might sound. Set in one of Spain’s most renowned party cities, we meet Hugo (Jesús Mosquera) who is in the middle of serving a 14 year sentence for a murder he didn’t commit. Throughout the season we piece together the puzzle of this thriller encountering all the possible suspects and motives surrounding the night Hugo was drugged, having no memory of how he ended up next to the headless body they assumed was his client, Macarena’s husband. It’s sudsy, its studly and there’s no shortage of suspects as we meet the dynamic five who form the bromance / stripper/dance group that make the ladies swoon and the corporate rivalries between two warring families using extortion, blackmail and corruption to manipulate the supporting cast around them sizzle.
How long’s the binge:
13 episodes all just over an hour each. The dubbing isn’t too bad depending on your preferences but having watched it in English and Spanish, there’s no match for the original audio.
It balances out the main plot with interspersed choreography and drama that explores the dynamics of the group of long time friends who work the stage of Inferno and the two main families – The Rojas and Medinas who have both lost family members in which Hugo is implicated in throughout the season.
Why we were gripped:
It all comes down to family and the definition of it, to this diverse group of characters from Marbella in the south of Spain. The city is known to international visitors for the glitz and glamour surrounding its nightlife and the raunchy shenanigans in between. But what reeled in the audience’s investment were three main groups acting out their own dysfunctions and positions within the Inferno, Rojas and Medina families. The brotherly bond and closeness between Hugo, Ivan, German, Jairo and protoge, Oscar enhanced with each individual’s story of hardship. This common band of struggle is forms the glue of the crew and they can actually dance as you’ll see in a series of sharp choreography throughout the season.
Hugo’s main love interest, Triana (who also just so happens to be his assigned pro bono attorney) an ambitious lawyer on the rise who juggles a growing infatuation for her client and workplace politics opens the door to the rest of the key players in the show.
From here we’re introduced to the ongoing corporate rivalry, the social dynamics of Spanish culture and given more into the inner workings of the Rojas family. Matriarch Benigna who calls all the shots, while relegating her mentally unstable daughter, Maria to the sidelines amidst the mystery of missing grandson/son Alvaro. The strange closeness between her son in law and right hand man in business was a smokescreen further complicating the validity of our suspicions as the mystery surronding Alvaro’s death, impersonation and connection to Andrea Medina played out.
If ever there were a unique flagship character on television promoting LGBT issues it would be Jairo (Carlo Costanzia) and he didn’t have any lines at all until mid season as he plays a mute character. The softness in these scenes was a nice smoothing out from the rollercoaster of deceit taking place in the main story and the development of this character so superbly done with just movement, sign language and facial expressions – the audience really did care when the writers thought up creative ways to allow the actor to speak in the voice of his character. Costanzia did well in depicting a fully developed character, conveying emotion and cultivating character sympathy, appearing in all episodes, driving major storylines using full creativity without any written dialogue.
What kept us guessing:
The sibling relationships in the Medina family aren’t fully understood until closer to the season finale, but Castono’s performance as Macarena in justifying strength and weakness of the character when with her son, Andrea and brothers, Borja and Matteo kept us wondering whether she really did set up Hugo for the murder of her husband. Castano switched flawlessly between vulnerability, sultry vixen and corproate dominance in Macarena’s dealing with showrunners around her. This only added to the unpredictability of the situations around Jairo and Andrea’s friendship as Triana learns her law firm was working Hugo’s case at the behest of the Rojas family!
Throughout the season, this tough guy alpha, Ivan (José de la Torre), who brought the group back together after Hugo was released from prison. He displayed a relateable side with the introduction of his back story having a brother in incarceration, complicated relationship and history with his sister-in-law and nephew. Whether these are culture bounds, this character along with the rest of the dance crew who are established in the same way defy basic assumptions and stereotyping which is what makes this program interesting to watch. But it’s the ease in sliding into those hip-intensive swirls in the dance sequences that adds to the depth of these characters.
Most Surprising Moment:
It’s really no surprise to see Maria Pedraza drift in and out of the hottest Netflix shows of the hour. She played Marina on Season 1 of Elite who was the catalyst of mystery after Samuel’s brother was wrongly accused of her death. She was Alison Parker, in Money Heist Season 1 – the political weapon that ensured the crew got away with the robbery. And now her fate hangs in the balance in the season finale of Toy Boy after the explosion at Inferno!
There’s enough here to keep going into a second season but there will need to be a change in the storytelling format as we all guessed who the real culpret was before the ending…
Other Spanish Netflix Originals to watch:
Elite | Monarca | Money Heist | Best & Worst of Netflix 2019 | Netflix Reviews
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