Thursday, July 9th, 2020
Oh, let’s see, there’s El Profesor, there’s Tokyo, Rio, Nairobi, Denver, Stockholm, Lisbon, Helsinki, Palermo, Marseille, and Bogota. And a couple of the characters in this world-famous gang of robbers, celebrity masters of the grand heist were in fact on the other side in the early episodes, either as a hostage or with the police. There’s even a newborn named as the other code names, Cincinnati.
Because the professor is brilliant and he is working with an elaborate plan (as we are told) he has assembled a team of people and, during an intense training regimen, forbade them from using real names (hence the cities) and told them romantic relationships were also right out (so, of course, they happen with surprising frequency). These are, of course, beautiful and handsome robbers, even in matching red jumpsuits, with or without their Salvador Dalí masks.
This takes place in Spain. They’re (for the most part) speaking Spanish and we’re doing our best to keep up with the subtitles and listen to the Euro-Spanish words, idioms, and accents, so different from the Mexican Spanish Sammy has give me a teeny bit of exposure to. I now think of Spanish as an amalgam of vocabularies and regional accents, and, ah, thank goodness for subtitles.
It’s called La Casa de Papel (the house of paper) because one of the two heists is at the Spanish mint, where huge printing presses churn out Euros.
The show has been purchased by Netflix (which is how we’re watching it) and in English they gave it the totally generic title Money Heist. I like the original title much more. It was a big big hit in Europe generally, winning International Emmy Awards and others.
It is a great cultural experience, part Robin Hood, part telenovela, because the subtext, oft-subverted and twisted sideways, is as classic as a story of class struggle, and when you fold in the European reaction to the financial crash in 2008 and the Profesor’s depiction of their acts as “the resistance,” hacking into capitalism at its very source…well, it’s a complex story, told in (as is the fashion now) many time shifts and with narration that may or may not be reliable.
We’re enjoying it.