As a longtime watcher of teen shows, if you tell me that a new one is essentially Skins meets Gossip Girl, that pretty much guarantees that I’ll at least be giving it a shot. And this new Spanish teen drama Elite, is exactly that. So much so that as someone who watched both those other shows, I’d really like to know if the creators of this one did too, because all the elements are in there, with a bit of Big Little Lies thrown in for good measure.
Skins was the UK teen show known for its hard core drug use and teenage sex scenes, while Gossip Girl was all about the rich private school kids manipulating everything and everyone around them while centering every episode around some sort of lavish event catering to the extremely wealthy. This show does both of those things, and you know what, it does them pretty well. It’s addictive, it’s juicy, it’s got sex, murder, drug use, parties, everything you want in a teen show for the most part. And it does a pretty good job establishing its own characters too, with a cast of able, attractive twenty-somethings who all get meaty, soapy storylines.
I’m not surprised it’s already been renewed for a second season at Netflix, because this is the kind of show that a lot of people (mostly fans of at least one of those other shows I mentioned) will gravitate towards and become very quickly hooked on. The difference of course is that this show is from Spain, so with a Spanish-speaking cast, that does gives it something of a different kind of feeling than those others, but only so much, as all the elements of the classic soap are still in play. As for the set-up, three teens from a public school whose roof caved in get treated with scholarships to attend the richest, most elite private school in the country, and of course, walk into all kinds of conflicts with the shit-stirring, class biased, privileged teens who make their lives hell.
There’s no real central antagonist here, as the large ensemble cast of nine share about equal screentime. There’s a crime being led up to in flashback mode (the Big Little Lies conceit I mentioned earlier), so over the eight episodes we get the lead-in to that along with the swapping of romantic partners and interludes, etc. Thankfully the actors all deliver here (never was the case with the Gossip Girl cast), and every plot thread is actually interesting, so I never got bored, hoping they’d get back to a character I’d rather spend more time with. But my favorites are probably Guzman (Miguel Bernardeau, below), the ringleader and seeming head jerk of the rich kids who turns out to quickly have much more depth than is let on, and Carla (Ester Exposito), who is slowly revealed as an ice cold master manipulator (I always gravitate towards the bad guys on these kinds of shows for some reason). Here’s the bottom line- if you like teen dramas, you will like this show, I guarantee it. It’s fun, crazy addictive and loads better than Riverdale. Check it out.