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Netflix’s Elite Is Changing The Teen Soap Genre And Here’s How

Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers from Season One of Netflix’s teen drama, Elite.

In 2018, It is with no doubt that Netflix has made it clear that the future of teen TV shows is going to be their center of interest. From hitting it big with huge success such as Stranger Things, 13 Reasons Why and more recently Maniac, the network is only just settling into completely changing the world of teen soap dramas. As early as the past fall, La Casa de Papel (or Money Heist) broke the barriers on the famous streaming site to a wider range of TV cultures and that’s where Elite, Netflix’s last Spaniard original series comes in place.

Directed by Ramón Salazar and Dani de la Orden, Elite dives into the world of one of the most exclusive and luxurious schools in Spain, Las Encinas. The thriller is centered around three working-class teenagers who attain scholarships to the prestigious private school and find themselves in a world where money, drama, and sex are of order. The clash of these two very different worlds will come down to the main plot of the show: The murder of Marina (María Pedraza), a fellow student who also happens to be the only one who doesn’t want to conform to her status of wealth.

© Netflix

The new teen drama may have only started out on Netflix but it’s already received huge critical acclaim from fans and critics all around the world for its amazing characters, interesting plot-line, and talented cast. The huge interest drawn from the fans is easily understandable seeing how distinctive the show aimed to be.

As opposed to the latest Teen TV shows, Elite takes a widely different a bigger approach on a number of social issues that concern each of the characters’ lives  – a drug problem, a sexually transmitted disease, an unwanted pregnancy, social exclusion and first and foremost class division and religious adversity. As soon as the show starts, we are immediately introduced to the engrossing murder mystery surrounding the whole plot, and we learn that a student at the prestigious school has been killed and the series then cuts between scenes before the murder and current police interrogations with classmates to find out who did it. Parallels could be drawn between 13 reasons why and Elite, where flashbacks of the main character’s life before a tragedy struck push the audience to be engaged in the show’s dynamic to a greater extent

The series, unlike any others, covers Islamophobia in Europe with one of the focal characters: Nadia (Mina El Hammani) by exploring the character’s struggles to finding herself through her culture – Nadia is bluntly told to remove her hijab or be expelled on her first day at Las Encinas – and her forbidden romance with Guzmàn (Miguel Bernardeau). Elite also manages to touch on the prevalent subject of HIV by (surprisingly) not making us pity it or victimize it but rather as an accurate representation of how people actually deal with it. As early as the 3 first episodes, Marina (María Pedraza) angrily points out the fact that her parents built up this stigma around her illness and that HIV should be not a subject to avoid but rather to be more talked about – She strengthens her point by exposing her ‘secret’ to her class in the latest episodes.

Elite showcases the good old suspenseful parallelsin which flashbacks unfold in every episode in the build-up to the day of the murder. We will discover through each episode each and every main character’s secrets and how or why they got involved in the victim’s life. Drawing a comparison to Gossip Girl and How To Get Away With Murder, we’ve got the good amount of uniforms, elitism, drama and scheming to cook up the perfect juicy thriller; but opposed to any rules of the genre, the audience doesn’t know who killed who and what might be the motive and that’s what interest to this show might come in place. Adding to that, the actors’ chemistry on-screen played a huge part in making the show run a lot more smoothly – 3 of the actors (Maria Pedraza, Miguel Herrán, Jaime Lorente) were recognized from playing in one of Netflix’s biggest hit: Money Heist and Itzan Escamilla in Cable girls. The choice of music and cinematography was also truly outstanding – Not only did it majorly broadcast Spanish tunes but it also deliberately contributed to the dramatic ambience the producers were going for and that’s something to be appreciated to its own right.

© Netflix 

Netflix’s latest production undeniably breaks the mould of your conventional teen soap by (successfully) incorporating these rarely-seen-on-TV topics and bringing a fresh change to the genre. Despite the show feeling a little over-packed due to the hundreds of problems the characters have to deal with in each episode and it feeling a little rushed, there’s no hesitation in affirming that the writing and the characters’ chemistry elevates the show to a whole new level that brings a modern touch to your traditional teen drama. In this one, you not only witness the development of the characters’ but you also discover different angles and takes on the issues they’re confronted with in an unsettling environment that differs from our usual beloved American high school. At the end of the day, Elite is a new addition to Netflix’s ever-growing library that’s worth the 8 hours binge and that’s (per-usual) going to leave us hanging at our keyboards for a little while.

Elite is available to stream on Netflix now. 

Featured Image Via Netflix

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