The Spanish heist drama series, which was initially just a two-part miniseries for local networks, became a global phenomenon only after Netflix decided to distribute it to the rest of the world.
Money Heist, or La Casa De Papel, is as popular as a Netflix original can get. The series premiered in 2017 on Antenna, a local Spanish network, before Netflix acquired global streaming rights later that year. Within just four months of being aired, it had become Netflix’s most-watched series of all time. But the bigger accomplishment came in when it won the title of the most-watched non-English language series of all time.
- The complex heist narrative had a rich tapestry of characters
- The red jumpsuit, Dali masks are real-life, historical symbols of resistance
- Money Heist has every everything a heist drama lover is looking for
There are several reasons why Money Heist is popular across the globe. It has the perfect premise of a heist drama, intricately written characters, and is just fast-paced, adrenaline fueled entertainment. The complex narrative of a heist matches the complicated mind of each character. The central idea of Money Heist is, of course, the heist, but the story of each character transpires along with it.
There’s historical symbolism disguised in the elements of the show, and its strong Spanish identity distinguishes from its American counterparts. The gang holds civilians hostage during the heist, and show-runner Alex Pina holds the viewer hostage to their screens. It’s a great team.
Keep reading to find more about why Money Heist is so popular, and one of Netflix’s best originals.
The complex heist narrative had a rich tapestry of characters
Money Heist begins with an army of eight robbers led by ‘The Professor’, the man who orchestrates the heist. The robbers are named after cities: Tokyo, Berlin, Moscow, Nairobi, Rio, Denver, Helsinki and Oslo. There are strict rules that do not permit them sharing personal information or having any personal attachments. The most important one is that the heist has to be carried out without any violence.
Through the course of time, the robbers work towards printing €2.4 billion at The Royal Mint of Spain. The series gives each character the time it needs, to share their story with the viewer. Some begin to develop a kinship towards each other while some fall in love. They find themselves entangled in their own web of complexities and somehow, manage to escape successfully each time.
Characters like Moscow, Nairobi, Helsinki, Denver and Rio become viewer favourites. The Professor was praised for his exhilarating genius, his good intentions and the dream of rebelling against the system.
Tokyo is a natural leader, but impulsive, overly emotional and a ticking time bomb. Berlin (a favourite after the final season) had deplorable views about women and was a principled psychopath with standards. The characters, along with the rest of the supporting cast, weaved a rich tapestry that only added to its story.
The red jumpsuit, Dali masks are real-life, historical symbols of resistance
Money Heist is popular as a non-English drama series because it is rooted in its Spanish identity. The show’s idea of ‘rising against the system’ is weaved into every tenet, and Don Quixote, a hero from Spanish folklore, has often been cited as the inspiration. The premise of Money Heist rests on the idea that the robbers are stealing from a bigger thief: the system.
There’s also more to what meets the eye. Money Heist popularised certain elements of symbolism that have actually been used at some point in history. The red jumpsuit, Dali mask and the song ‘Bella Ciao’ have just as much significance in real-life as the show. The jumpsuit’s prominent red is said to be an unwavering symbol of resistance, love and hate.
The Dali mask is not just a disguise for a crime, but a symbol of revolution showing solidarity. And there’s another. A reddit user said that the reason why the robbers sport the Dali mask is The Professor’s real name — Salvador Martin. ‘Bella Ciao’ is not just a treat for the ears. The Italian folk song was used as an anthem by the resistance against fascists during World War II.
Money Heist has everything a heist drama needs
Every viewer looks for the same things in a heist drama, at least primarily: impossible plans and seemingly unachievable goals, unpredictability, suspense, and perhaps a happy ending for the characters they’re rooting for. A fair bit of romance and melodrama is welcome too if it enhances the viewing experience. Brownie points if it has a realistic vision to it.
Money Heist is so popular because it has it all. The romantic events that ensue in the series have often been compared to Spanish telenovelas, and it has some truth. When things go severely wrong in the series (which happens a lot), the viewer expects the worst. The heist’s pressuring and intense atmosphere, and the fact that each episode ends with a cliffhanger, doesn’t help either.
The viewer underestimates every character but still roots for them, and they just continue to surprise, episode after episode. If you’ve watched the show already, or plan on doing so, you’ll understand why Money Heist is so popular. The upcoming season will explain if it has overstayed its welcome, but until then, we’ll be singing ‘Bella Ciao’ in anticipation.
Which character are you most excited to see in Money Heist season 5? Let us know in the comments.