There are three ideal types of escapist TV: the ultra-trashy spectacle of real people behaving badly (see: Tiger King, any gathering of Housewives, Love Is Blind), the comforting familiarity of feel-good sitcoms (see: Schitt's Creek, The Office, Friends), and the glossy sheen of hot people being hot (see: Gossip Girl, Empire, most soaps).
But before you succumb to Netflix paralysis and just watch another episode of Parks and Recreation as we approach what feels like day 431 of coronavirus quarantine, I humbly present to you the perfect binge for right now: Money Heist.
The fourth season of the sexy Spanish series, titled La Casa de Papel [The House of Paper] in its native language, drops on Netflix today, and should be on the top of your watch list ASAP. But don't just take my word for it: Money Heist the most-watched non-English Netflix series ever, and it has a perfect 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. And yet not enough people are talking about its utter delight.
As a television reporter, I watch a lot of TV. Like, to the point where it gets stressful to keep up with everything. When I want an escape, I usually download a half dozen e-books from the library and ignore my TV for as long as possible. But after seeing Money Heist pop up time after time in my nightly Netflix scroll, getting email after email about Netflix's robust non-English offerings, as well as a few personal recommendations from my Spanish-speaking friends, I finally dove in at the beginning of 2019 — and I have not stopped harassing everyone I know to watch this Ocean’s 11-esque heist story since. I love this show so much that I even I went on a Netflix podcast to talk about it.
Money Heist follows a motley group of stranger criminals who come together under the tutelage of a nerdy-hot man who calls himself the Professor and who has planned the ultimate heist: robbing The Royal Mint of Spain. But instead of stealing existing money, the crew, all of whom have changed their names to that of a different international city, will don matching outfits (red jumpsuits and plastic Salvador Dalí masks), break in, and print their own — more than $2 billion of it. In an ideal world, they will then part ways and never speak to each other again. (Naturally, complications arise.)
The show contains every hallmark of a good heist movie: suspense, danger, a Robin Hood sense of justice (stealing from the rich and giving to the poor), and, of course, hot people. There is some really incredible bone structure in this cast, and everyone acts on the overwhelming sexual chemistry in the air. There are multiple hostages who embark on romantic relationships with their captors, plus a particularly steamy hookup between the two youngest (and hottest) members of the crew: Tokyo and Rio, played by Úrsula Corberó and Miguel Herrán. (Both are prone to posting plenty of Instagram thirst traps, if you, uh, want to check them out.)
You will most certainly find yourself attracted to some of the robbers you know are objectively evil, but you will not care. Even the scenes that are not obviously about sex have an underlying sensuality that you cannot ignore (or maybe that's just due to the fact that I do not speak Spanish and watching sexy people speak another language is extremely appealing). Either way, it's a nice escape.
There are many inexplicable plot holes, mostly relating to the fact that the show jumps back and forth in time to reveal how the Professor has planned three steps ahead every move the cops could make. He also manages to seduce the single-mom detective in charge of the investigation. You will ignore these holes and lean into the drama. The editing will be weird, because Netflix took the Spanish series' 15-episode first season and edited it into the 22 shorter episodes that comprise seasons 1 and 2. It will not matter.
Money Heist shares multiple cast members (including Herran, a.k.a Rio) with another international Netflix hit, the Gossip Girl-meets-Big Little Lies teen soap Elite — another worthy binge, especially if you just want to watch hot teenagers hookup while somehow getting away with multiple murders. It also theoretically shares a universe, because characters in a season 2 Halloween episode of Elite dress up as the robbers.
The tense action of the heist will make you forget about the current anxiety-inducing news cycle, though the anti-capitalism undertones will probably hit a little close to home as the economy continues its rapid decline. Another key to escaping our current hell: subtitles. If you don't speak Spanish, reading the dialogue forces you to put down your damn phone and disconnect. (No shade if you want to watch the dubbed version, you do you.)
Ultimately, the key to escapist TV is being able to immerse yourself into a new world and forget about the real one. Thankfully, there are now four seasons of this ridiculous sexy heist drama to help you with that.
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