In the 21st century, we value entertainment and ingest a lot of it to fill that hole of boredom we human beings have. Entertainment comes in many ways and formats, but one of the most popular forms o is shows. Shows can be seen on TV, your laptop, tablet, and even your phone. As civilization becomes more modern, it has adopted streaming services as its main source of entertainment. Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, etc, all offer a vast variety of content to view. Netflix was the first and most used streaming service out of the bunch and has shows that get very popular. Some of its shows include “Dark”, “Bojack Horseman”, “Peaky Blinders”, formerly “Daredevil”, and other soon-to-be classics. One show in particular that I want to point out is “Money Heist”.
“Money Heist” is a Spanish thriller that follows a band of robbers pulling off the biggest heist in Spain: robbing the bank of Spain. the group, which is led by a mysterious man called “Professor,” must find a way to pull off the biggest heist in the country, while making sure they all come back alive. The bank heist trope has been done many times before in entertainment; examples include “Baby Driver” (2017), “Good Time” (2017), “Now You See Me”(2013), “and Ocean Eleven”( 2001), etc. Many would say the trope is a dead horse but “Money Heist” contradicts this. It adds so much more to the trope that the ‘bank robbing’ theme is virtually erased.
Before I dive in I want to preface there will be spoilers riddled throughout this article, so read with precaution.
“Money Heist” fleshes out its characters well and makes them relatable and easy to connect to, mainly because they are just like us in a way. Bank robbers in entertainment are often automatically labeled as bad guys, with no redeeming qualities and people that, for the most part, are 2D. However, “Money Heist” develops their characters and gives them more to them, which changes the viewer’s perception.
The character Nairobi, who is part of a band of robbers, is very talented with money laundering. She was a single mother who had to sell drugs in order for her son to have shelter. After she was busted with drugs on her, she lost custody of her son. She joins the project to make enough money to claim custody of her child and live with him on a deserted island. Before the audience learns all of this, Nairobi seems like a rash and overall scummy person but when we learn her struggles and what she has to do to see her son, we see her not as a 2D character, but as truly human. We see the same thing happen with Berlin, another character in the show. Berlin was seen as a cold and psychopathic character who didn’t care about other people’s feelings or give much respect to his teammate’s intelligence. Not the most likable character. But towards the end of the second season, Berlin sacrifices his life for the heist to be successful. We get a look into his past and the events that led up to the heist and are able to sympathize with his character and understand him more as a human. Contradicting everything I said before. These robbers contradict the stereotype by showing that robbers aren’t bad people nobody should like but are as human as the audience. Robbers are people that have struggles like the rest of us. “Money Heist” lets us see these characters face and overcome struggles in such a beautiful way that it touches our souls, which is what we want. Another thing the show does well is to include aspects from the ‘real’ world and incorporate these things into the show. The show starts with a band of robbers trying to pull off the biggest heist in Spain. It soon spirals into a war against them and the Spanish Government. In this war we see these robbers breaking the mask of the government, exposing their lies, and revealing their secrets to the public. This makes the citizens go out and protest, with the robber’s signature Dali mask and red jumpsuit, and this turns the masked robbers into a symbol of rebellion. The way “Money Heist” did this was so good that, according to Vox, multiple groups of protest occurred around the world using “Money Heist” as motivation and referencing in during protests. “Puerto Ricans donned the same costumes to call for the resignation of corrupt Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, using the adage “Somos la puta resistencia,” which translates to “We are the fucking resistance” — a reference to a speech made by El Profesor in season three, combined with arguably the most iconic line in the whole five seasons.” The show does a great job depicting a corrupt government, and the way that Álex Pina and his crew write the government officers/officials is outstanding. The government in the show is very corrupt and they find ways to twist the truth in a way that portrays them as the morally good guys and the robbers as the bad guys. This is what makes “Money Heist” unique: it creates these interesting concepts that not only make the viewer question the events happening in the show but also in real life. This is what led to those —“Money Heist” and “Money Heist” inspired protests. This show has that impact, which is why I think it’s more than a show.
In order to get different perspectives, I asked an adult and a teenager to tell me their ideal show-watching experience.
Starting off young, I asked a student named Mia.
1. What type of shows do you like watching?
I honestly like watching reality shows and cringe shows. Like love island etc. it’s obviously fake but it’s still entertaining.
2. What are you looking for in a show?
“Just like a plotline that’s pretty interesting and characters that are relatable and interesting. Basically, a show that I can relate to.”
3. When you’re watching a show you, like do you connect with its characters
“Yeah, um when I can relate to them I can myself in their situation and I can say “they just like me fr”
4. Why do you think people watch shows?
“People watch shows to occupy themselves or to hop on a trend. Basically as a form of entertainment basically.”
5. Do you think shows can have an impact? Be more than just a “show”
“I think they can I think it depends. Like if shows struggle that people struggle with and show it to a bigger audience so the public can understand. It educates people about issues like suicide etc.”
Then, I asked someone much older, a staff member from my school, Ms. Klein
“Generally speaking I watch only shows that are on streaming channels. I enjoy watching shows made in other countries more than those made in the US due to my belief that they are more interesting and of better quality. Some of my favorites have been The Killing, and Money Heist, both of which did a great job with character development as well as storyline. A good story, character development, meaning of some kind, and/or shows I can relate to. I also enjoy watching documentaries.”
“It is not necessary that I can connect to the characters in a show I watch. As long as the storyline holds my attention I am good. People watch shows for entertainment, to escape their lives for a minute, and to learn new things. Yes, shows can have an impact on people both good and bad. For entertainment” – Ms. Klein
Two different perspectives from two vastly different people. Yet their answers remain similar. It doesn’t matter how young or old the audience might be. What they may find more entertaining than the other. Generally when people watch a show yes, they’re watching for entertainment. But they are also watching for a connection. They may be with the character or with the message. This is why Money Heist has influenced so much in pop culture. Though the show has flashy effects and an action-esque tone to it, it still has a meaning. This is why the audience can connect and relate to the show. Thereby, creating something more than entertainment”