Stream it or skip it?

The theme of “friends as family” has been around forever, but lately we’ve seen shows that have taken the meeting place of friends to a new level, adding high stakes to relationships. Most of those high stakes were health related, and a new Netflix series from Spain is in that vein.

Opening shot: Five women look in their mirrors, some running their hands through their hair apprehensively. They are all about to shave their heads.

The essential: Women shave their heads in solidarity before traveling from Madrid to Cadiz on vacation. Sara (Itsaso Arana), Alma (Sara
Mónica Miranda), Carol (María Rodríguez Soto), Leo (Mariona Terés) and Olga (Godeliv Van den Brandt) have been friends since they sat at the back of their sixth-grade class 25 years ago. One of them has been diagnosed with cancer and is about to start chemo, which is why the group all decided to shave their heads.

We don’t know which woman has cancer, and the five friends have sworn not to discuss the cancer or tell anyone they meet which friend is sick. They go to the resort and get a luxurious villa on Airbnb in order to forget about reality. But they also want to do things they may have been hesitant to do before. Before the trip, the women put slips of paper in a box that would contain items from the “to-do list”; when they pull out the first slip at a highway rest stop, what’s on it causes quite a debate: it says “having a lesbian experience.”

Everyone but Alma is straight, and some – like Olga – seem like they’re up for it and others – like Leo – don’t even want to try. Everyone thinks Alma is having it easy, except for the fact that Alma is in a long-term relationship and wants to stay monogamous. When they go to the market, Olga sees a handsome guy who she seems to vibe with, but for some reason she tells Leo he didn’t want her to go first so he could watch her. They meet the man, John (Javier Rey), both in the restaurant he owns and in the club they go to next (which he suggests). To appease Olga’s desire to connect with him and honor the task, he suggests a threesome.

Meanwhile, Carol hooks up with a bachelorette and they go up to the bachelorette’s room for seemingly platonic reasons – until the two realize that the woman’s friends have dosed her drink with ecstasy and that she’s got it. ‘they both drank sips of it. Leo connects with a “double bagger” over their lack of self-esteem. And Alma and Sara recount when Sara helped Alma understand that she loves women over men, including a non-stubble kiss.

The girls in the back

What shows will this remind you of? If the theme of The girls in the back Sounds familiar, it’s because the idea of ​​women who are longtime friends coming together when one of them has cancer is the theme of another recent Netflix series, Another life.

Our opinion : The girls in the back (Original title: Tired of the last fila), created by Daniel Sánchez Arévalo, is supposed to be about female friendships and how your true friends rally instead of running when you’re going through a tough phase in life. What we enjoyed about the first episode was that we got to see the chemistry between the five friends, with Arévalo writing down their chats and tiffs with a freedom you’d see with people who have been friends for so long. They love each other, but call each other out for their weaknesses, they talk to each other, they just sound like a band that has a relationship that most people envy.

But what’s the most powerful aspect of the show, at least in the first episode, is that we don’t know who’s sick, and chances are we won’t know until the end of the first season, if at all. Arévalo does not do this to create a gimmick or generate a mystery; we never found ourselves watching the first episode for clues as to who the sick one might be. We just appreciate the solidarity the women have shown with each other and their attempts to abide by the “rules” of this journey, however difficult they may find it.

That’s because the show isn’t about the person with cancer, but about those five friends who seize the day and maybe find a shift in their perspective now that they’re in their thirties. And that’s where we hope the show will stay for as long as possible.

Sex and skin: There are some quick and down-to-earth topless in a few scenes.

Farewell shot: Carol wakes up naked, leaves a voicemail for her husband, then sees the bachelorette walk out of the bathroom, lamenting how the ecstasy she took “unties the bowels”.

Sleeping Star: We love Mariona Terés as Leo, because she seems to realize that she doesn’t need to be skinny like her friends to be attractive to people… she just needs to love herself more.

The most pilot line: Alma tries to get Carol to accept the adventure of the lesbian experience and brings her face close enough for Carol to kiss her. “It counts, right? It was a lot for me,” Carol says happily. She didn’t know what awaited her later that night.

Our call: SPREAD IT. The girls in the back takes a fresh approach to a story we’ve seen many times before and has an engaging cast with fantastic chemistry.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and technology, but he’s not fooling himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Slate, Salon,, VanityFair.comFast Company and elsewhere.

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