Allying two of the biggest powerhouses in high-end Spanish-language drama series, Movistar Plus and The Mediapro Studio have joined forces to produce “Paraíso,” a banner 2021 Spanish series and determined push into Young Adult entertainment.
Previewed at MIPTV’s The Wit’s Young Adult Fiction, where it was also chosen among Variety’s 10 buzziest market titles, the genre blender is directed by Fernando González Molina (“Palm Trees In the Snow”). Set to bow June 4 on Movistar Plus, it marks the Spanish pay TV/SVOD biggest push to date into YA territory, following on university relationship drama “Merlí: Sapere Aude” and its first animated series, “Virtual Hero.”
Shot after COVID-19 hit Spain, “Paraíso” is set on the eastern coast of Spain, in a small town nestling by the beach and backed by spectacular sharp-buffed cliffs. Here, a group of high-school friends search desperately for three girls who have disappeared, including the sister of one of the protagonists, wrecking their families’ happiness. Their search leads them to the local discotheque “Paraíso” perched high on one of these cliffs.
Echoing 1990s’ Spielberg, the series capitalizes on a 30-year nostalgia cycle -a seeming constant through pop culture- as it looks back fondly to a more naive age of adolescence, free from the burdens of social media, Internet interaction, and current turbulent times, tapping into a cosy Spain still sheltered from galloping globalization, where “family” was still a big cornerstone of the Mediterranean idiosyncrasy.
“It’s an amalgamation of things because all the time we wanted to do a series for the whole family, that they could sit and watch it,” González Molina remarked at an online unveil of the series, which explores a sense of ever more fractured families, reminiscing about cosier days.
“It’s true that TV has changed: People no longer feel together, but even if they see the series separately, we wanted everyone to be able to feel that sensation of taking a family trip, from teenagers to maturer audiences.”
Tipping its hat to “Terminator 2” and Stephen King and using 1980s and ‘90s hit Spanish bands like Mecano and OBK for the soundtrack, the show is well aware of one large shadow hanging undeniably over it: Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” now engrained in the collective imagination, milking that sweet neon-esque nostalgia of arguable ‘80s taste.
But the series quickly takes a hard turn left by the end of the first episode distancing itself from the Duffers’ ’80s homage and opening up a vast range of possibilities as to where the series might go, while broadening its audience potential.
Movistar Plus has created a pop-up channel, Movistar VHS, to accompany the series, screening shows and movies from the period, some referenced in the series itself.
“The channel embodies the world of ‘Paraíso’ and gives references to the audience via wonderful films like Spielberg’s ‘The Goonies’ and much more,” said Domingo Corral, Movistar Plus director of original fiction.
He added: “What excites me most is not only launching a series, but covering it well. The whole platform is going to support it. I think ‘Paraíso’” will go very far.”
Asked about future plans for YA fiction, Corral said Movistar Plus bets on quality not volume. The series’ success or failure will, however, hint at whether there is an appetite in Spain for a genre that has so far been near monopolized by the U.S. content.