With the publication of the last five episodes of Netflix’s hit Spanish series La Casa de Papel on Friday, four years of plans, schematics, gunfire, bombs, anti-capitalist symbolism, incredible contingency planning, and crazily ill-advised professional romances will come to an end.
The thriller, dubbed Money Heist by English-speaking audiences, chronicles the exploits of an unavoidably motley team of criminals who dress in red overalls and Salvador Dal masks to heist the Royal Mint and later the Bank of Spain.
Armed with guts, grievances, intricate plans, and the occasional heavy machine gun, the robbers loot, fall in love, argue, and play cat-and-mouse games with the police, all while endearing themselves to a population tired of austerity, corruption, and Spain’s political elites.
The first season, which aired on the Spanish TV network Antena 3 in 2017, was picked up by Netflix the following year and quickly became a global success, as well as the platform’s most-watched non-English language series.
La Casa de Papel
(literal translation “The House of Paper”), which won an International Emmy award for best drama in 2018, has been hailed as a socioeconomic fable for our times, and has even served as a Halloween costume inspiration for the many Spanish children who have marched door-to-door in red overalls, demanding sweets at the end of a plastic assault rifle.
Despite its popularity, even its designer finds it difficult to define its attraction. Pina, whose past hits include Sky Rojo and White Lines, believes the show’s underdog heroes struck a connection with Spanish audiences in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, which was marked by misery, fury, and austerity.
However, he notes that in recent years, there has been “a great skepticism about all the institutions, central banks, and governments” throughout the world. Natalia Marcos, a TV critic for the Spanish daily El Pas, says that the show’s social and political context may have resonated with people in Spain, Latin America, and the Arab world going through difficult times.