Spanish-language series to stream during isolation

“El Club.” L to R: Pablo (Alejandro Speitzer), Jonás (Axel Arenas) and Matías (Jorge Caballero)

Self-quarantining for at least two weeks? Have you already organized that cluttered closet, reordered the spice rack, sponge-painted the bathroom and filed your taxes? Even if you haven’t, maybe it is time to kick back and relax because cabin fever is soon going to be as widespread as COVID-19. 

Since the gym and the bars are off-limits, it may be best to give in to sitting (or better yet, lying) on the couch, with a big bag of tasty snacks and binge-watching some television. Don’t forget to hydrate. And shower.

But with all the options, what are the best series to stream? Well, for guilty pleasures, here are four Spanish-language series on Netflix featuring queer content and beautiful people behaving badly. Bonus: you can convince yourself it’s educational — you’re learning a foreign language while you watch!

“Elite” (24 hour-long episodes in 3 seasons). The third season of this glossy Spanish series just dropped, promising more juicy plots and mystery. The show concerns a trio of working-class teens — Samuel (Itzan Escamilla), Nadia (Mina El Hammani), and Christian (Miguel Herrán) — who matriculate into Las Encinas, a fancy private school, when their classrooms are destroyed. (No online classes here!) Season 1 unfolds as police investigate the murder of one of the elite classmates, recounting what happened in flashbacks and with interrogation scenes designed to keep viewers guessing. At Las Encinas, Samuel gets romantically involved with Marina (María Pedraza); Nadia is courted by Guzmán (Miguel Bernardeau), who may be playing her; and Christian has a threesome with the power couple Carla (Ester Expósito) and Polo (Álvaro Rico), both of whom desire him. A subplot concerns Nadia’s closeted gay brother, Omar (Omar Ayuso) who meets Nadia’s classmate, Ander (Arón Piper) on the sly, and tries to keep his sexuality — and his drug dealing — from his conservative Muslim parents. “Elite” is sleekly made, and it makes points about money and class, as well as sexuality, that go down easily. Season 2 follows the aftermath of the killer being identified; Season 3 continues the story, with another classmate being killed. 

“House of Flowers.” L to R: Julián (Dario Yazbek Bernal), Paulina (Cecilia Suárez) and Elena (Aislinn Derbez)

“House of Flowers” (22 half-hour episodes in 2 seasons). Like “Empire,” this campy Mexican series has three adult children struggling to maintain the family business — the flower shop of the title — while facing family secrets, money issues and power struggles that threaten to undo them. Virginia de la Mora (Verónica Castro) is the mother of the uptight Paulina (Cecilia Suárez), Elena (Aislinn Derbez), and the bisexual Julián (Dario Yazbek Bernal). The storylines are all exaggerated in a telenovela style, with characters making discoveries that cause comic mayhem. The queer content includes Paulina’s transgender ex-husband José María (cis actor Paco León) who now goes by María José. Meanwhile, Julián keeps jeopardizing his secret relationship with his boyfriend, Diego (Juan Pablo Medina), by sleeping with other people. This undemanding show is brightly colored (like an Almodóvar film), fast-paced, sexy, and funny.

Also from Mexico is “El Club” (25 half-hour episodes in 1 season). This naughty, addicting crime drama — perfect for fans of the pill-mill series “Claws” — concerns a group of overprivileged 20-somethings who get involved in selling MDMA to their friends. When Pablo (Alejandro Speitzer) and his pal Matías (Jorge Caballero) have an unsuccessful launch party for their new app, they realize there may be another route to financial success. Enlisting the help of Sofia (Minnie West) and Jonás (Axel Arenas) — whose mother is a housekeeper for Pablo’s family — the team encounters some, well, highs and lows, dealing drugs. There is palpable chemistry between Pablo and Sofia who get caught in a love triangle with her hunky boyfriend (Marco Tostado). There are class tensions as Jonás becomes romantically involved with Sofia’s bestie, the wealthy Ana Pau (Ana Gonzalez Bello). There is also a queer subplot involving Pablo’s closeted brother, Santiago (Alejandro Puente) whose relationship with Max (Martin Saracho) generates some drama. “El Club” culminates with an intense finale that will leave viewers wanting more.  

“Millennials” (48 half-hour episodes in 2 seasons). Taking its cue perhaps from the “Friends” model, this option from Argentina features three attractive couples whose lives center around a co-working space. Benja (Nicolás Riera) is dating Ariana (Laura Laprida) and works on an app with Juanma (Juan Manuel Guilera) and Rodri (Matías Mayer). Juanma is romantically involved with Flor (Noelia Marzol) and Rodri is partnered with Alma (Johanna Francella). There are pregnancies both real and imagined, financial windfalls and losses, career backstabbing, blackmailing and more, along with multiple overlapping storylines involving characters cheating, uncoupling and recoupling. There is also a subplot featuring Fabi (Santiago Talledo), who is both a cross-dresser and bisexual. He has an intriguing, extended same-sex relationship in Season 2. “Millennials” also addresses domestic abuse along with issues of fidelity and trust. The series is distinguished by its emphasis on sex and nudity — one of the recurring transitional scenes inexplicably features the studly Juanma in the shower. 

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