Elite will be the new soapy, trashy binge-watch of the masses this weekend, as the Spanish series tackles class divides and, of course, a murder.
Sex, murder, drugs, blackmail and the usual high-school shenanigans are to be found in the eight-part soapy Spanish series Elite, which debuted on Netflix today. Created by Darío Madrona and Carlos Montero, if you imagine a dubbed Riverdale with a slicker pace and a sharper eye for class division, you’ll have a fairly good idea of what you’re getting yourself into here.
What you won’t have much of an idea of is where Elite is going. It’s a twisty-turny whodunit and that’s the best thing about it; it’s supremely well suited to Netflix’s direct-to-binge distribution model and thanks to the short season order it’ll go by in a flash. Demand for a second season will inevitably be high, and as I understand it there has already been one commissioned (though when it will reach Netflix is anyone’s guess.)
The show gets its hooks in, no doubt about that, and thanks to its forced scenarios and hackneyed dialogue, it’s easy to not think about it too much and allow yourself to be swept along. The plot begins with a murder and then winds back time to three working-class kids arriving on scholarship at Las Encinas, a top Spanish prep school, from which the top-achieving student will be given a transfer to a sister school in Florida – provided Las Encinas’s rules of manners and respect are abided by, which of course they won’t be.
The kids are Nadia (Mina El Hammani), a Palestinian who is made to remove her headscarf under the threat of expulsion; Samuel (Itzan Escamilla), who lives with his mother and troublemaking brother, Nano (Jaime Lorente), who is fresh out of prison; and Christian (Miguel Herrán), whose hazing by the popular kids in the first episode doesn’t go quite as expected.
All of these kids are insufferable in one way or another, as are the privileged students (who include Miguel Bernardeau, María Pedraza, Ester Expósito, Álvaro Rico, Danna Paola and Arón Piper.) Your ability to tolerate these folks and buy into their increasingly absurd developments will be the decider of whether you enjoy Elite, but the show is pitched quite squarely at a very particular demographic who will know immediately what they’re here for. And they’ll get that.
There’s plenty of the usual teen-drama fare, but also more-than-usual to be said about the upstairs/downstairs class divide, which gives Elite an additional contour. You likely won’t care who died or why, but it’s a safe bet you’ll stick around to find out who did it. It’s just that kind of show.