Originally, I didn’t think it was for me because it seemed derivative and silly.  But it kept popping up in the “top 10 most watched series” on Netflix, so I reluctantly gave it a go. Once I started it, my week was gone. Money Heist is not only a ton of fun, but I’m surprised at how many times I’ve choked up through the season. Turns out it’s won international Emmys. Based on season 1, I highly recommend it.

A Not-So-Simple Plan

Set in Madrid, Money Heist is like Ocean’s 11 but with misfits, not movie stars. 8 robbers are brought together under The Professor, a nerdy criminal mastermind who spent his whole life planning a heist, not of a bank, but of the Royal Mint of Spain. As in Reservoir Dogs, the robbers mostly don’t know each other, and take on aliases to keep their anonymity. Instead of colors, they use names of cities. The plan is for the group of 8 to infiltrate the Mint, take hostages, and hole themselves up for 12 days-long enough for them to print 240 billion unmarked Euros. The hostages will be treated very well, and once they have their money, the robbers will somehow evade the surrounding police and disappear with the loot.  The Professor has gone to extraordinary lengths to cover every possible contingency, including renting an estate for 5 months before the robbery where the group of 8 trains in printing money, firing guns, psychological manipulation of hostages, and more. If this sounds less-than-original to you, you’re right. But there is enough that is unique about the show to make it worth watching.

What The Professor Didn’t Anticipate

As he monitors the heist via cameras from his rented warehouse near the Mint, The Professor is able to manage any problem, from wounded hostages to squabbling among the robbers. But he didn’t anticipate one thing: love. In TV land, if you put people together, they are going to fall in love, no matter what the situation. And love causes major problems, from heightened emotions to extortion to simple distraction.  As time goes on, robbers, hostages and even the police wrestle with romance and the fallout from it. But this is the heart of the show. Once we get to know the characters and learn their emotional wounds, we root for them. Although the show can get a little soap opera-y, it has enough action and drama to keep it from being sappy.

My only complaint

I have two small complaints, actually. The first one is that by the end of season 1, the robbery is still in progress. In fact, we are only 3 days in.  This is risky for a show to do. (Remember The Killing?) Viewers expect some kind of resolution at the end of a season. My second, and related, complaint is that at 13 episodes, season 1 starts to feel long if we’re not going to have a resolution. And now I have a choice to make: do I binge season 2 to find out how this ends, or do I pull my head out of the screen and enjoy summer? What did you think of the show?

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