This Spanish miniseries, currently running on Netflix, is like Game of Thrones written by a Communist. You think I’m kidding.
Most “period” dramas focus on the lives of what the British perversely call “the great and the good” – monarchs, aristocrats, the rich and famous. This show takes the point of view of the ordinary folk living in and around 14th C Barcelona – farmers, laborers, craftsmen, merchants — all trying to live their lives under a system of laws not designed to protect them. Those aristocrats who do appear are oblivious fools at best. There are plenty of awful and tragic moments, here — rapes, pillages, plagues, disasters – the usual stuff of medieval drama. But there are also moments of joy, spontaneous kindness, true friendship and faithful love, persisting despite all the awful stuff. Best of all, there are a couple of characters who do the right thing – most of the time – you can actually root for.
Based on a successful Catalan novel, this 8-part miniseries has a beginning, a middle and an end — something I no longer take for granted in this era of open-ended series TV and which I deeply appreciate. Check it out.