A few weeks ago, Paco Leon declared that Elite seems “shit” to him. The headline, inevitably, generated a lot of commotion on social networks for a couple of hours, but that commotion overlooked a particular feature of the Netflix series, which premieres its sixth season on November 18, and which very few enjoy. current series: Elite is above all. Above good, above evil and, above all, above something as mundane as the idea that each one has of quality.
This will be the first season without any of the original cast members. Elite thus becomes a concept or, as they say now, a brand. The new signings are Nicolas (Ander Puig), Sara (Carmen Arrufat), Raul (Alex Pastrana), Rocio (Ana Bokesa) and Didac (Alvaro de Juana). To earn merit to enter the Las Encinas Institute, it is not enough for these five actors to be handsome and charismatic. They must be handsome, charismatic and capable of carrying out lines of dialogue such as: “Fuck you 2: the sequel”, “Well, three hunks have come together, right?”, “It’s just that I like tails too much” , “Fuck me and shut up” or, especially, “And this is the story of how I killed my mother, almost killed my brothers, sent my father to jail and that’s why we had to repeat the year.”
Elite is the only Netflix series in which the sensitive content legal notice that appears at the beginning, in the upper left corner of the screen, seems more like a claim than a warning: “Nudity, sex, drugs, violence, intoxicants, sexual violence”. From the beginning its creators Carlos Montero and Dario Madrona, who grew up with the cinema and television of the nineties, made it clear that they handled references as badass as Cruel Intentions (1999), but four years and six seasons later the lack of modesty of Elite it has only gone further.
There are things that never change, yes. As in every season opener, there is a murder mystery (or attempt) that will unravel over the eight episodes until it is resolved in the final climax. In season six it is an outrage. An unoriginal device (it triggered entire seasons of Falcon Crest, Melrose Place, and Desperate Housewives) precisely because it is always foolproof. Just as the titles of the first three episodes of this new season are irresistible: Anxiety, Selfies and Nudes.
The creator and co-showrunner of the series Carlos Montero affirms that, although it may not seem like it, there are things that are discarded as “too beasts”. “In the script room someone says: ‘I’m thinking of something… but it’s too much.’ And everyone, of course, pricks him to say it. Sometimes we have realized that they do fit. Other times you rescue them later. In the next season we will cross a line that we thought we would never cross ”, he warns.
The series is in constant communication with its audience. “Think that there is no one left from before,” says Ivan, inadvertently quoting Celtas Cortos. Instead of including the classic summary, like “previously in Elite”, a new character (Sara) appears, contextualizing her school in an Instagram direct: “It is said that the former director was a Nazi, corrupt and allegedly assassin”. And if anyone considers it inappropriate that fiction has stopped objectifying female bodies to objectify male bodies twice as much, there is a terrifying scene in which a character discovers that he has been drugged and has an adjective tattooed on his back in huge letters while , in the background but never out of focus, appears the ass of a boy taking a shower. It is not the first of the season, far from it.
Montero explains that this is achieved by “taking a nose and with grace”. “Sometimes the directors shoot it thinking that it is what he plays even though we haven’t asked him to. In that particular scene, the script didn’t say: ‘There’s a guy taking a shower in the background.’ Other times the director is too elegant, like in season five when Patrick and Ivan were commenting on each other’s asses and the camera didn’t even focus on the asses in question at any time”, he recalls.
But Elite is above any controversy. That makes it, in a certain way, the freest series being made in Spain right now. Over the years she’s gotten more brazen because she knows that, after six seasons and having survived the demise of her iconic original cast, she has carte blanche to get gross. in part, because of the audience it retains: anyone who continues to watch Elite at this point (and, in the absence of official data, it is estimated that there are 30 million people worldwide) is not going to be scandalized by anything. In fact, if he returns year after year, it is because he expects to encounter new transgressions. Those who might take offense to its content are not looking. As if it is not possible that there is a character of a Portuguese star footballer, Cocaine addict and homosexual inside the closet and nobody has raised an eyebrow? Perhaps because Elite is to the series what “my parents are leaving this weekend and I have the house alone” is to moral conventions.
But, above all, Elite is above good and evil because he knows how to be a pimp with grace, without shame and without malice. And without consequences. As baroque as Euphoria is, that series exists explicitly in our reality and its characters are affected by our circumstances. Elite no. Elite, like Game of Thrones, takes place in its own dimension: that of the series in general and of the 90s in particular, to the point that it gives the feeling that its characters are aware that they live inside. a series. Only someone with that awareness could comment on a trans guy’s name choice by saying, “I thought you guys were into weirder names, like Chad, Dorian, or Greg” and go on with their day.
The actor Adam Nourou at the ‘Elite Club’ party held on October 27 at the Edition hotel in Madrid.Matias Uris
It is impossible (or, rather, absurd) to be shocked by Elite or the portrait it makes of adolescence because at no time does the series bother to pretend that its characters are teenagers. They are actors playing teenagers who behave like divorced millionaires on the brink of depression. They drink rosé wine from stork glasses, wear Chanel-style jackets with shoulder pads, and wear transparencies and sequins to be around the house. One of them, Isadora, lives in a hotel-disco and nobody flinches. And after six seasons, the Las Encinas Institute has definitely stopped trying to regulate the clothing of its students: each one wears the uniform as they please and some even find a way to make their nipples show under their jackets.
“That maturity is something that we purposefully sought from the beginning,” says Montero. “We wanted to make a different series, we didn’t want to have doubts about whether to lose your virginity or your nerves before the exams. Jaime [Vaca] is now the showrunner with me and his influences appear, which are more adolescent, but the morbid thing about the power game and the sex of Cruel [intentions] will always be in Elite’s DNA. We start from the premise that today’s teenagers are more adults and we tell an adult melodrama unleashed by people who have lived a lot”.
At one point, Patrick proposes to his boyfriend Ivan to stay at home, “blanket and Netflix”, which squeaks not because it reminds the viewer that he is watching a Netflix series (Elite makes sure that he does not forget at any time). moment), but because it’s hard to imagine the characters doing such normal things. Unlike in Feeling or Gossip Girl, in Elite there are no references to real-world movies, artists, or songs. Pop culture does not exist in Elite. They don’t watch TV because they are TV. And this stripped-down self-awareness makes the series more enjoyable: Ivan asks Patrick to stop “living everything like it’s a movie”, and then kisses him as the camera circles around him…as if was a movie.
All this makes Elite a fantasy, but in no case a comedy. As was the case with the American soap operas from the Aaron Spelling factory (Dynasty, Sensation of Living or Melrose Place), Elite starts from the premise that it is a drama: pay attention to the shot of Valentina Zenere moving her hair away from her face so that the camera focuses well how he cries And there is the grace for the viewer. And the challenge for the writer, because that balance is not easy to achieve. It is not easy to put a scene in which a group of teenagers order a few bottles of Jagermeister, smoke several joints and decide to get naked to help one of them to feel comfortable with her body again after being raped by three classmates and there go to a bloody scene of abuse. Elite only.
“Sometimes the jump from one scene to another creaks and we rewrote the chapter in montage. We change scenes or re-record them, because we are going so far that there are tone departures that are not detected in the script and when we see it recorded we realize that it does not fit”, explains Montero.
The sixth season deals with more social issues than the previous ones. Conflicts of class, gender, sexual identity, addictions, race, violence and sexual orientation run through all the plots, but at no time with an explicit informative or instructive desire as it happens in other titles in the Netflix catalog. Elite takes all the social discourses to its terrain. The relationship between Ari and Nicolas brings out his insecurities as a trans man and her prejudices towards her genitals. Her interactions approach the clash without taboos, naturally and even with a rebuke: at one point, Ari blurts out: “If you like me precisely for that, because I’m a rancid cishetera.”
The actor Andre Lamoglia at the ‘Elite Club’ party held on October 27 at the Edition hotel in Madrid.Matias Uris
The platform asked the team to treat this plot tactfully. “Netflix has always been very open, but it is a clearly progressive company and it is afraid that we will deal with woke issues, breaking the sensitivity of the moment. They told us that if we touched on the trans issue we had to do it carefully. But we wanted to do it because there was a time when everyone was praising shows like Euphoria, which treated the trans experience in a very normal way, but also cowardly, because they don’t talk about something as important as genitalia. Ari means the best, but he screws up all the time, while the trans guy has it all crystal clear. It seemed to us that this conflict was very cool”, says Montero.
In another clash, Bilal and Rocio, two black characters, debate what exactly “being African” means: they were born in different countries and she has enjoyed Spanish privileges that he, the waiter at the hotel-disco, will never have. “Damn European colonialism”, Rocio ditch. Next, Bilal sleeps with Ari in the warehouse. Elite only.
Although everything has happened in this series, it does maintain a certain internal coherence. There’s a lot of music, but it’s hard to imagine that one day they’ll do a musical episode. There is violence, but there will never be a shooting. Both are common resources of the American series (and of Physics or chemistry) to build event-episodes, but Elite moves in the balance, in the wink and in the nudge. He is not going to lose his way by putting Cruz (the soccer player) making out with Ivan (his son), but what he is going to do is place the camera shot so that it seems that they are about to do it on several occasions. Elite has stopped having series and movies from the nineties as a reference to be its own reference: the challenge is to provoke more, better and in a different way each season. If there were red lines, this series has smoked them.