Nearly all the major streaming services are branching out into Spanish-language content. Some are getting into translating works from Latin American authors. Netflix has plans to adapt Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, while Hulu is busy at work on a new version of Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits. And that’s not counting the sheer amount of stuff being made and released in Latin American countries. Amazon announced their slate earlier this year and out of 20 newly revealed series coming from a host of different locations, seven are specifically aimed at Spanish-speaking audiences, all with 2019-2020 release dates.
Let’s look at all seven of these series and do a little armchair predicting of what they might be like.
La Templanza (Spain)
Based on the acclaimed novel by Spanish author Maria Dueñas, La Templanza is being described as “dramatic love story” spanning the likes of Mexico City, Cuba, London and Spain. The plot of the novel follows a once wealthy man who loses his fortune overnight. He eventually transitions to working on a formerly legendary vineyard with the hopes of restoring it. Running parallel to his own personal journey, the man will have to capture the heart of the widow who once owned the property.
Since there’s no casting notice for this all we know is Amazon wants to adapt Dueñas’ work. She’s only published three novels but her works are best-sellers, translated into 35 languages. A sweeping love story like this sounds amazing, particularly considering audiences’ love for the likes of Gran Hotel and Downton Abbey.
El Cid (Spain)
El Cid is considered one of the most famous Spaniards to ever live. The story of the military man and nobleman will be transformed into a large-scale series with a “contemporary perspective.” The series comes to us from Luis Arranz and Adolfo Martinez. Arranz has worked on a few television series and the 2017 Spanish-language actioner Rescue Under Fire, while Martinez is better known for his below the line work.
It’s unclear what this contemporary perspective means though the description calls El Cid a man “trapped between two worlds and two cultures.” Might we be seeing some type of time travel element? Bringing El Cid out of his own time and into the modern-day to showcase how he’s perceived now? The description referring to him as a man “centuries ahead of his time” who was “transcended by his own legend” seems to imply as much.
El Presidente (Mexico)
El Presidente is being touted as a “true crime series inspired” by the events of the 2015 “FIFA Gate” scandal. If you don’t remember, seven members of the FIFA organization responsible for governing football throughout the world were indicted, including its two presidents, under charges of wild-scale corruption, collusion, and racketeering. It shook the community to its core and in the wake of it numerous movies and now this television series have sprouted up to capture the real-life drama. Set against the backdrop of cities across Latin America, the U.S. and Europe, the eight-episode series will star Karla Souza (How to Get Away With Murder), Andrés Parra (Pablo Escobar: El Patrón del Mal) and Paulina Gaitán (Diablo Guardian).
Interestingly this is a coproduction with Pablo Larrain’s production company, Fabula, which put out the critically acclaimed Jackie and A Fantastic Woman. With Larrain’s name attached in any capacity this certainly looks to be prestige television. FIFA Gate is such a complex story with so many players that a series like this should go a long way toward condensing the information for audiences and helping them understand why this is such an important topic.
Untitled Sci-Fi/Horror Comedy (Mexico)
This one has easily the vaguest plot of all the shows announced. All that’s known is it’s a “roller coaster horror story” set to contain “high doses of suspense” and an “apocalyptic battle of epic proportions.” What does all that mean? We have no clue, but expect it to be fascinating while simultaneously making you laugh and be scared. It’s also set to be released by the same production company that puts out Netflix’s Narcos.
It’s hard to judge this considering absolutely nothing has been revealed. Science fiction and horror certainly lend themselves to being blended but add in a comedy and, yeah, this could be a disaster or highly unique.
El Juego de las Llaves (Mexico)
El Juego de las Llaves (translated as The Game of the Keys) tells the story of four couples who decide to give swinging a try. After their wild key party though questions start to settle in, leaving the couples to question their decisions. Set in modern day Mexico City, the ten-episode comedy will examine “long-term monogamy, self-realization and desire.” It stars Maite Perroni, Humberto Busto, Marimar Vega, Fabiola Campomanes, and Hugo Catalán.
This sounds like a solid concept for a romantic dramedy and has been the subject of many an American-set show, though usually set during the 1970s when key parties were a thing. Watching swingers in an era where sexuality and relationships are more fluid will instantly open up more questions on how relationships have changed since swinging’s heyday. El Juego de las Llaves will debut in the U.S. exclusively on Pantaya in fall 2019, and will stream internationally in more than 200 countries and territories on Amazon Prime Video.
Untitled Political Thriller (Mexico)
This is being touted as a timely exploration of the interweaving relationships between Mexico City politicians, assassins, government spies, and drug cartels. Their goal? To “seize control” of the power structure, both legal and illegal, within the city.
Much like the Untitled Sci-Fi/Horror Comedy this is really more a concept than an actual show. The description specifically mentions an “intertwining” plot structure. Does this mean it’ll be a different angle every episode? One episode maybe focusing on a politician and another episode on an assassin? This sounds like it might have the makings for an anthology of some kind, akin to Narcos, but there’s far too much ambiguity right now to prove or disprove anything.
Como Sobrevivir Soltero (Mexico)
Translated as “How to Survive Being Single,” Como Sobrevivir Soltero follows Mexican actor Sebastian Zurita plays follows a fictional (?) look at his life in the wake of being cheated on by his fiance. Fearing this is the end, he reunites with a group of his single friends, setting them off on a “comedic journey” to explore the world of dating in the wake of hookup culture and app-based romance.
The hourlong comedy sounds like it has promise, particularly as it mentions the series will examine masculinity among Latin American men. There’s plenty to mine from discussions of toxic masculinity in general, let alone adding in cultural specificity.