Money Heist (La casa de papel) is one of the best shows on Netflix. It is gritty, addictive, and thought-provoking – a must watch. The Spanish language thriller follows a group of criminals, known as the resistance, who attempt to rob Spain’s Royal Mint through a complex plan strategized by their leader, the Professor. To keep their identities hidden, the members of the group each give themselves the names of cities such as Tokyo, Rio, and Nairobi. This marks them as the underdogs of society, endearing us to them from the outset.
In the first season, the police are headed by Inspector Raquel who seems to be the only person clever enough to rival the Professor’s plan. The emphasis on Raquel as a woman in a man’s world helps point out issues in government hierarchy and the ever-present patriarchy in the police force.
The sense of passion behind the robbery makes this Spanish show different to your average British bank robbery film. The show’s underlying socio-political narratives, surrounding corrupt government control and the individual’s right to wealth, turn what could have just been another bank robbery into a symbolic anti-system protest. Set against the 2008 financial crash, the show mixes action and social issues to highlight the struggle of the people. The resistance wear iconic red jumpsuits and Salavdor Dali masks. These outfits have become symbolic of anti-system philosophy across the world, with many people wearing the outfit to marches for freedom and to raise awareness of human rights.
The plot’s intelligence is key to Money Heist’s universal appeal. The Professor’s plan is well thought out and risky which, combined with a string of cliff hangers and the unexpected and random deaths of main characters, keeps viewers pinned to their seats. The other great thing about the show is its development across the seasons. A comedic tone is heightened in later seasons and we are always learning new things about the past, keeping the show interesting and fresh. Throughout the seasons, there are flashbacks which reveal more about what went into designing the heist. These memories band together the resistance as a dysfunctional family who we can’t help but root for.
The Italian anti-fascist song, ‘Bella Ciao’, which is sung throughout the seasons is now synonymous with both the programme and a cultural movement against established hierarchy and corrupt governmental control. Yes, the success of the show comes from its tension building plot, but its popularity comes from its deeper symbol of freedom and equality. It addresses themes like class, status, wealth, and love, which we can all relate to and stand for. Exposing the Spanish government’s corruption in Seasons 3 and 4 heightens this level of engagement.
Money Heist is Netflix’s most watched non-English language show worldwide, yet it is surprisingly under-appreciated in England itself. The stars of the show have millions of followers of social media and its third season was watched by 34 million households in its first week alone. There are even references to Raquel tying her hair with a pencil all over TikTok. Perhaps the English dubbed version of the show puts viewers off; so, please just watch it with English subtitles!
Featured Image Source: Still Money Heist via Netflix