Elite on Netflix: An addictive high school drama

Photo Credit: Manuel Fernandez-Valdes/Netflix
Photo Credit: Manuel Fernandez-Valdes/Netflix /

Elite, the Spanish Netflix Original, is a highly entertaining and addicting high school drama with a lot of great characters and some soapy fun.

There will be moments that feel a little familiar when you watch Elite, Netflix’s Spanish-language drama set in an upper class, preppy high school. There’s the rich bully, the scrappy main character who runs afoul of the law, the outsiders, a flashy murder…

But Elite uses all of the usual tropes to its advantage, playing with them in interesting ways. The show plays characters off each other, pairing them up in ways shows like these normally don’t do too often. There’s a sense of fun to it all, a wink and a nod to how it proceeds through somewhat familiar territory and spins it in its own way.

Planting three middle-class kids into the world of the rich and famous but in a high school setting is a wealth of potential for a story. It’s a fish out of water scenario on top of some of the rich kids bristling at the outsiders even existing in their vicinity bringing out the worst in them all, in the best way possible.

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Elite gets its characters right. Everyone is brimming with personality, full of life and never dull to watch. Two of its characters, Guzman (Miguel Bernardeau) and Nadia (Mina El Hammani), the rich jerk and the headstrong Muslim lead, are fascinating when together. They are completely different but add to each character’s layers. I wasn’t a fan of Guzman in the beginning, but he becomes rather intriguing as it continues.

The threat of normalcy to the higher echelon students makes for some fun, if a little convoluted (in a good way!), and attempts to put the regular kids in their place. The show is smart to not allow these backstabbing and plot points go on for too long, as Elite rather burns through this and uses the outcome’s dynamic to go somewhere more interesting.

The setting in an elite high school, where grades and achievements are a sign of standing in teenage society, leads everyone to look out for themselves, a dog eat dog type setup where everyone seems to be on their own side only, even if they’re getting along for now or should potentially be helping one another.

There are times when the show can go a little too far into the clichés it’s hovering above, like the bad boy brother with run-ins with the law or drugs ruining someone’s sports potential, but it’s never too much to fully distract from the fun aspects. The soapy nature has to have some of these things, for better or worse, and for the most part, it works.

For its eight episodes, there is also a murder plot running alongside the main plot, which helps comment on the events as we see them. It’s a good way to see how friendships and alliances end up and put some heartbreak in there that there is no good outcome for some of them.

Elite is a lot of fun to watch, a show easy to binge and brimming with character. It may not have a lot to say outside of its social class warfare, but it does not need to. It does what it sets out to do, which is to be vastly entertaining. It’s renewed for a second season, coming sometime in 2019. The show is well worth checking out, and will certainly leave you wanting more.

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