After completing my first bout of midterms at UNC in October, I wanted to treat myself. I decided it was time to watch some Netflix, something I had not done yet that semester. I scrolled through my "Continue Watching" list, filled with the classics: “The Office,” “Parks and Recreation” and “How to Get Away with Murder,” just to name a few. As I was about to watch my favorite episode of “Parks and Recreation” for the 10th time, something came over me. I wanted to watch something new. I scoured the home screen for something to start and ended up on a foreign teenage drama called “Elite." I was immediately hooked.
“Elite” is a Spanish drama series. The show consists of a mostly Spanish cast and is filmed entirely in Spain. I usually do not watch shows in foreign languages, but I was fully committed to the idea of watching something new. I am so grateful I did.
The show is centered at an exclusive private school in Spain called Las Encinas. Three new students, of a distinctly lower socio-economic class, are admitted into the school on a scholarship after their school building collapses. The mingling of these new students with the current students at Las Encinas causes significant drama. Finally, the show culminates in a dramatic murder. Throughout the season, the audience is led to believe different students are the murderer.
While the show’s plot is not unique, the drama and mystery are incredibly engaging. When describing the show, I tell others to think if “How to Get Away with Murder” and “Riverdale” were combined, and the show was set in Spain, that the product would be “Elite.” Beyond the teenage prep school drama and romance, the show covers several real-world issues: class, racism, homophobia, consent and others. These topics are seen through a Spanish lens, a point of view I was not accustomed to since I mostly watch American television programs. The show provided me with insight into how another culture deals with the same problems we have here in the United States.
Clearly, I love this show. I have recommended it to almost everyone I know. But there is something greater to be appreciated than the plot or the casts’ Instagram pages. There is a wealth of entertainment from across the world that we now have access to online. Watching television or films from foreign countries can be a unique tool to learn more about different people and places. Social media has brought the world together and so should streaming services. I understand that Americans have been appreciating foreign works for a long time, but with streaming services, like Netflix, it should become the norm.
So, as winter break approaches and you find yourself with some more free time, try scrolling past your "Continue Watching" list and find something new. Don’t shy away from foreign films or series, you might just find your new favorite show and learn something too.
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