by Iñaki Oñate
Surprise, surprise. The most successful Latin American Netflix series
to date is not a rip off of Breaking Bad or some drug cartel action-drama
with moustachio’d druglords and yellowish cinematography. Nope, the biggest hit in the history of Latin American Netflix is a biopic and has pop superstar Luis Miguel as its protagonist: Luis Miguel: La Serie.
His life as adapted to the TV screen is much more than just a depiction of his beginnings, from being a little child singing at the parties of the Mexican upper/middle class to becoming one the biggest names in the musical landscape of the late 80’s when he was merely twenty years old.
Sure, we get to see a a fictional version of Luis Miguel’s childhood.
His relationship with his tyrannical father (Oscar Jaenada), who taught him how to sing but at the same time obligated him to work non-stop since he was 10 years old, and his mother (Anna Favella), the sweet and innocent counterpoint to such abuse. We also take a closer look at Luis Miguel’s (Diego Boneta) personal struggles with fame, money and love.
Up to this point imagine the series as being a merely acceptable product for general audiences, mainly for the fans of the singer. Nothing out of the ordinary you might think, but here’s the fundamental writing criteria of the creators of the series that turns it into a story that engages everybody no matter if you listen to Pink Floyd and you’ve never thought of Luis Miguel as a meaningful artist. This fundamental element is in his real life, which actually contains a story about a very dark and strange mystery yet to be resolved.
The series locates the main conflict in the disappearance of his mother Marcela around 1986. Since then the Mexican star has never stopped searching for her. No one knows what happened. Was she killed by Luis Miguel’s father in a fight over their son? Did the mother go crazy because of drug abuse and was locked up in a mental hospital? Thirty years of an unsolved mystery and now Luis Miguel (who is an executive producer of the series and has declared the official story) is apparently going to reveal what actually happened to her. Millions of people have seen the series and are talking about it and a big percentage of these people have never even heard a song by Luis Miguel from start to finish.
The point is that this series is the best example regarding the power of a well-written tale. Themes, shapes and colors are not really that important, what’s really important is the story that is been told here. Imagine a prince living with a tyrannical father and a tender loving mother. She disappears mysteriously and the prince starts investigating. Everybody in the court knows something or was part of it. He won’t stop until he finds out. Pretty
neat dramatic structure, right?
Millions of people are awaiting a second season, myself included. Hopefully it will be a satisfactory development of what we have seen so far and if not, I will remember season one as one the highlights of the Netflix original series production. Good TV writing indeed.
Iñaki Oñate / Writer (Quito, Ecuador – 1988) Iñaki resides in Buenos Aires, where he studied film directing at Universidad del Cine. His short films have been part of the official selection at the New York, La Habana and Cannes festivals. He’s currently developing his first feature film with his own independent production company, Undergofilms. He also works in music and art illustration.