It is strange that Netflix has decided to release ‘The ones in the last row’ at the end of September when it is, very clearly, about a series designed by and for the summer, when, with the most charred and somewhat melted brain, we can ignore a start that seems to want to emulate Instagram stories and the Estrella Damm ad on duty adding a macabre twist, and that only at the end ends up showing a humanity that , for some reason, we are denied for the first half of the season. Welcome to this journey of reunion, friendship, love, sex, drugs and cancer.
See what happens
I am going to admit two things from the outset: the first, that although I started out very skeptical about Daniel Sánchez Arévalo’s abilities to write female characters, I ended up in tears and it was hard for me to leave that group of friends. The second, that this does not prevent the series from being one of the most irregular of recent years, which as soon presents the characters as posh to whom everything goes well as it is capable of innovating with the narrative in an unexpected way.
The starting point of ‘Those in the last row’ swings around to the cancer that one of the five friends has: The idea is for the viewer to do their guesswork and try to guess who it is, something I admit I had some moral issues with. It is not a playful mystery a la Agatha Christie or ‘Daggers in the back’, but something more uncomfortable and with which the whodunit is not fun or comfortable at all. In fact, it’s an excuse to turn the series into pure emotional porn as its final episode approaches.
‘The ones in the last row’ has a very defined target: people who enjoy Rigoberta Bandini, the perfect Instagram life, summer beer commercials, indie music festivals and plans with friends on the beach. That does not mean that it is not open to another type of public, of course, but it is probable that there are people who turn off the television frustrated at a collection of ill-formed jokes and inexplicable toxic friendships that in the first three episodes they do not finish starting. Then, luckily, the series finds its own tone.
Girl who left, take care of this woman
When the series begins, you are a stranger to this group of friends who should not be and even they can be unpleasant. In fact, her plain is unusual, responding to mere stereotypes: the married, the lesbian, the left, the perfect, the influencer… But shortly after, and in a subtle way (sometimes) she introduces changes in her journey until that you have no choice but to feel part of that gang. A broken gang, full of people who don’t fit togetherbut gang after all.
The problem is that Sánchez Arévalo, who he has never stood out for how well he writes his female charactersthe rule of talking about what you know is not applied and he gets into unknown territory from which he comes out regularly. ‘Those in the last row’ lacks a female rewrite that understands this groupa little less grandiloquence and more naturalness: what he achieved without problems in the great ‘Cousins’ or the fun ‘Seventeen’ here is a tour de force in which the viewer notices where he wants to go, but also that he doesn’t quite know how to do it.
At the end, and only at the end, the series plays with its own narrative in its best episode, but it may already be too late for some viewers tired of a proposal that does not finish starting until it is too late. However, the concluding episode leaves such a good taste in the mouth that deep down it is normal wondering about a second season in which to meet them again and see what has become of their lives.
Born women in the time of Despentes
Throughout the series, the protagonists are revealing tests to do as a group as a way to unite more against cancer, and although at first they are almost a nuisance that distances them from the main plot, they end up leading to a more than worthy ending. Perhaps some of these tests are twisted too much to fit the script, and some ask more of the gang than others, but It’s a reason to keep watching episodes (“Let’s see what comes out now”) at a time when nothing else encourages you to do it beyond its macabre mystery.
At the end, ‘The ones in the last row’ is a failed production and one of the worst works of Sánchez Arévalo, who finds it difficult to understand her own characters and insists on creating a feminist narrative from the male perspective, a somewhat strange exercise that, sadly, does not quite work. Of course: the group of friends becomes more credible and stronger as more episodes go by, each character evolves and has her own path and in the end you discover that you’re excited about a phone call about French toast. Cañí costumbrismo always works.
‘Las de la Última Row’ begins as this year’s Estrella Damm ad, including an indie song, but it ends up being a series with its own personality for all those who are patient enough how to put up with a group of friends as festive as absolutely toxic, as fictional as it is real, as poorly dialogued as it is well structured. Do you want to remember that summer you never had? If you are lazy to open Instagram, Netflix has the series for you.