The successful show that crossed to ocean: Review ‘La Casa de Papel

Candela Francoso Canete

All good things must come to an end. And like this, the Spanish show ‘la casa de papel’, ended on december 2021, five years after its first emission on may 2nd 2017. This show about a group of robbers breaking in the ‘fabrica nacional de moneda y timbre’ belonged to the spanish television network atresmedia, and was then bought by netflix, who saved the show from a complete downhill. 

Why wasn’t it successful in Spain? 

The show was first aired in 2017, and it’s first episode counted with a total of 4 million viewers according to formula tv.  The problem was that after the pilot, each episode had less and less people watching it, making only 1..,7 viewers for the last episode of its first season. Everything changed with what the cast call their ‘guardian angel’, making a reference to one of quotes said by Tokyo to the professor in the first episode. Netflix bought the show and added it in the netflix catalogue, and just like this it became the most watched non english speaking show in the history of the platform. 

All the main characters with the famous red clothing
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Why has the show become one of the most popular shows in netflix? 

Not every show gets to have the title of ‘most watched non english speaking show ever’ so that leads us to think , what are the factors that made this show so popular? 

One of the reasons why this happened is because this robbery is not only a perfect plan and a group of people trying to follow it. This show is also a representation of how the system and the society are capitalist and corrupt. “They are not only stealing for themselves, but they are also giving a blow…and a wake-up call to the capitalist system we are in,”  says Alejandro Bazzano, one of the directors of the series, told the newspaper Argentine The Nation.

Another of the reasons for this show to be completely successful is the characters. Really complex people with different and intense backgrounds that build beautiful relationships through the show. ‘I think that the spectator, to which he becomes addicted, is to these characters and wants to enter their lives and get to know them better. They make him laugh or move him or identify with them,’ says Pedro Alonso who plays Berlin. 

In addition to this, femenine characters are especially strong and important for this story, for example having a girl as its main character. This also made a lot of women feel connected to the female characters and the situations they have to grow through. Alex Pina, creator of the show affirms that ‘‘la casa de papel’’ is based on very strong female characters, so the series has an “emotional and feminine” look in a genre that was eminently masculine. 

Finally, another of the reasons was the symbols that the series uses since the first episode. The color red representing passion or power;  Using Dali’s masks to represent resistance or the famous song ‘bella ciao’ have accompanied the characters during all the robberies and are now some of the most important details of the show. 

Storyline 

This show narrates the story of Tokio. A woman who after losing the love of life in a heist is being searched by the police. In that moment, when she feels like all is lost, her ‘guardian angel’, the professor, a mysterious man, appears in a red car to tell her to come with him. He had choose eight people, really good in different sectors (informatic, falsification of money, etc) to make true a heist that he had been planning all his life: sneaking in la fábrica nacional de moneda y timbre and steal more than a billion of euros. The show is designed to see everything horuth the stealers eyes, which makes people empathize with them, and actually wanting them to be successful with the heist. A lot of problems and unforeseen events will be appearing during the seasons, that make the viewer be in constant tension and wanting to know what is going to happen next. ‘I couldn’t stop watching it. When I finished one episode I needed to put the next one right away. I binge watched the last season.’ says Flore Tailhardat, student at SPASH. 

Numbers do not lie, and this show counts with more than 190 million hours seen for a reason, according to TV news. The interesting plot, the complex characters and the amazing visuals and symbols have made this show definitely worth watching and will not leave you indifferent.