Well, here’s something you don’t see every day: a Euro TV drama series about empowerment and healing. The one I’m referring to is from Spain: Frágiles.
Frágiles is a layered drama of medical storylines served with dashes of self-help advice. (Think a House–Oprah mashup.) At the center of each episode’s concurrent sub-plots is physical therapist Pablo Morillas, played by Spanish stage and screen star Santi Millán. Pablo, a handsome, humorous and laid-back guy, is well-known and highly-respected in his field, and thus it is him that the titular frágiles turn to when something ails them.
For teenager Dani, it is the pain in his right hand that nearly everyone believes is a ruse. For middle-aged Mónica, it is the effects of her brittle bones on her miracle pregnancy, marriage, and life. And for the muy successful financier Ulises, it is his severe narcolepsy.
Bestselling author Julia would rather keep doing drugs than get a much-needed medical test. The he-can’t-handle-the-truth statistician, Alejandro, copes by duping his wife and Pablo, and ultimately himself. Young and simple-minded Miguel is willing to risk injury for a shot at fame and fortune. And the betrothed César experiences symptoms of psychosomatic “I don’t” just hours before his wedding.
With a bit of physical therapy here and talk therapy there, Pablo helps each of them to move forward in some way, even if the endings aren’t always happy ones.
Two others of Pablo’s patients, though, require longer-term treatment, and their stories serve as two of the three arcs in the first series.
No-nonsense business executive Teresa (Elia Galera) has been in a wheelchair since her accident. In working with Pablo, her hope for pain relief turns into hope of another sort, one that husband José (Fran Nortes) believes is false and one he fears will be destructive. Drama ensues and pits José against Pablo, and even Teresa against Pablo. When Pablo figures out what’s been happening and finds the proof, stuff hits the fan and their lives are changed forever.
As for young library worker Lola (Ruth Núñez), treatment for her neck injury requires surgery or a rigorous regimen of massage therapy, and she wants neither; with her Asperger syndrome, she deeply dislikes being touched. When Lola experiences another trauma, this one involving her I-know-best madre Dolores (Luisa Martín) and caliente-one-minute-frío-the-next love interest Nacho (Karim El-Kerem), Pablo must find a way, and quickly, to help the strong-willed yet vulnerable Lola heal in mind and spirit as well as body.
Which brings us to the third arc, which concerns Pablo and his relationships with his comatose wife Pilar (Norma Ruíz) and flighty and flirty sister-in-law Ana (Sandra Ferrús). Ana, despite her longing to be with Pablo, sees what he doesn’t: he isn’t dealing with his guilt over their mutual indiscretion, but masking it under the guise of duty to his patients and devotion to his wife. The moral of his story: “Physician, heal thyself.”
A binge-watchable (addictive?) series that can elicit an occasional “Hah!” as well as “Aww,” Frágiles delivers characters that are accessible and feel familiar, like people we might know, and stories that are both entertaining and enlightening without feeling preachy or melodramatic. Frágiles is simply feel-good storytelling.
The first series of Frágiles (eight episodes) is currently streaming at Hulu/Hulu Plus and Drama Fever.
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