Televisa may still be peddling pie in the face jokes while parading surgically altered women with plunging necklines through their wholesome family programming, but there are signs of hope for Latin American television. Most recently, we’ve written about Netflix’s incursion into Spanish-language original series with the upcoming comedy Club de Cuervos, but believe it or not, HBO has actually been at the Spanish-language programming game for over ten years. And they’re doing it right.
Since 2004, shows like Epitafios, Prófugos, and Capadocia have brought Latin American audiences HBO’s unmistakable brand of provocative, serious-minded television while deftly adapting their subject matter and style to local tastes. One of their more recent south of the border endeavors, Sr. Ávila, has even garnered comparisons to The Sopranos and The Professional for its action-driven exploration of an everyday Mexico City fulano de tal who leads a double life as a mafia assassin.
After being picked up for a second season, HBO recently released a rather epic trailer to get our mouths watering in the lead up to the season premiere on May 1. Consisting of a single virtuoso tracking shot — with a little help from digital post-production — the trailer takes us through a series of sordid dioramas that seem to freeze different moments in Sr. Ávila’s Jekyll and Hyde lifestyle, with more than a few handguns, fireballs, and corpses interspersed with scenes of harmless middle-class domesticity.
The textured, moody cinematography and evocative set design have all the trappings of HBO’s cinematic production values, while a spacey, string-heavy soundtrack anchors a poetic voice-over reflection on the nature of enterprises “that cost you your soul,” leaving you with little more than “betrayal, solitude, and guilt”– giving an unmistakably Catholic edge to the show’s moral universe. Most importantly, it kind of makes you want to see the show. In case you want to quickly catch up on Season 1 before the premiere, here’s a recap.
Take note, Televisa. You may effectively run an entire country, but anyone with a set of functional eyes and ears can tell that this is how real TV is made.
Season 2 of Sr. Ávila premieres on HBO Latino on May 1, 2015 at 10pm.