Catalonia, in its bid for independence from Spain, is all over the news these days. But let’s get philosophical rather than political and (re) (binge) watch the fabulous Merlí.
Six Euro TV series premiered in the US this week, three of them in the UK as well. If memory serves me correctly, we’ve never had this many Euro TV shows debut in the course of just four days. It’s great… and a bit overwhelming (at least for me).
So I’m regressing to a simpler Euro TV time. Specifically to December 2016, when Merlí premiered on Netflix on both sides of the pond.
This. Show. Rocked. My. World.
Intelligent, witty, and simply brilliant, Merlí revolves around the life of the eponymous, charismatic, middle-aged teacher Merlí Bergeron (Francesc Orella, Infieles, El comisario). When we first meet him he’s unemployed and broke and recently evicted from his apartment. What his ex-wife and son, Bruno (David Solans, Bajo sospecha), don’t know won’t hurt them, so his rationale goes, so it’s off to his mum’s apartment he goes with Bruno in tow. Their new home sweet home. Only not really, cos the two have baggage.
Things start looking up for Merlí when he gets a teaching job at the local high school. Where Bruno is a student. His student. (What’s the Catalan translation of “¡Ay dios mio!”)
With a nod to Dead Poets Society, Merlí teaches philosophy and instructs his students to observe and reflect and question and think about their lives vis-à-vis the ways that renowned philosophers did — from Aristotle and Plato, to the Skeptics and the Sophists. Their ideologies then become the themes of the storylines, in which his adoring and trusting students (well, mostly), aka the Peripatetics, use the knowledge they glean to help solve the problems they and their friends and families face day in and day out.
This doesn’t go over well with many amongt the staff and parents. By upsetting the status quo with his unorthodox teaching style and big mouth, Merlí makes himself the nemesis of Eugeni Bosc (Pere Ponce, Isabel), the ultra-strict teacher and head of studies, and a pain in the rear to Toni (Pau Durà, Crematorium), the school’s director, who repeatedly tries and fails to keep Merlí in line.
So the irony of the sarcastic, self-absorbed, and hedonistic Merlí being the poster child for “those who can’t do, teach” isn’t lost when his actions, words, and attitude often make situations worse before they get better. If he were a doctor, “Physician, heal thyself” would be appropriate.
And that right there is half the fun of watching Merlí.
The ensemble cast features Candela Antón (The Red Band Society), Anna Maria Barbany (La sagrada família), Albert Baró (El cor de la ciutat), Elisabet Casanovas (Imberbe), Júlia Creus (13mil), Carlos Cuevas (Cuéntame), Marcos Franz (Knightfall), Marta Marco (Ventdelplà), Iñaki Mur (Centro médico), and Pau Poch (15 Years and One Day).
If you haven’t watched Season 1 of Merlí yet, fire up your Netflix and check it out. If you love it as much as I do, then let’s wait together until Season 2 arrives (hopefully soon!).
The third and final season premiered last month in Spain, so fingers crossed we’ll get it on Netflix US and UK within the next year or so.
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