Review: Bienvenidos a “Elite” — teen drama pushes boundaries


Photo credit: Molly Goldberg

Ella Frey ’19 and Allie Worchell ’20 sit in the Archer garden while watching “Elite: Episode 3.” The eight episode Netflix original series came out on October 5, 2018.

While this show is a realistic example of life for many teenagers around the world, it does feature substance abuse, drugs, and sex; therefore, it should be watched by students 15 and up. 

Blood. A dead body. Police officers and cameras. All within the first five minutes of “Elite”, Netflix’s newest teen drama.

Grab a friend. Pop that popcorn. Put on your coziest sweatpants and prepare to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

“Elite” is a drama unlike any other, featuring modern political issues like LGBTQ youth, racial and religious discrimination and socio-economic disparities. While it encapsulates real-world issues, it also breaks boundaries when confronting drugs, sex and relationships. “Elite” was created by Carlos Montero and Dario Madrona.  

The show takes place in modern-day Spain at an elite and expensive high school. Three scholarship students, Samuel (Itzan Escamilla), Nadia (Mina El Hammani), and Christian (Miguel Herrán) enter the prestigious institution after their former school mysteriously collapses. Nadia wears a blue hijab, Christian tucks a cigarette into his ear and Samuel looks longingly at a striking red-headed female classmate. Little do they know their studies will be the least of their worries.  

At school, the students are introduced to the lust and glamor of Spain’s high-class society. Soon the scholarship students learn that status comes at a steep price: more than a Rolex Watch (cough cough, spoiler alert!).  

The show features eight episodes that are each 45 minutes long. Every episode switches between past and present. A female detective sits in a bleak room with the distraught students— each one being investigated for the murder of one of their classmates.

The detective asks leading questions that fade to flashbacks of a time before the murder. A time when the classmate was still alive, and when life seemed carefree.

We do not wish to spoil this drama-filled thriller, so summarizing the multifaceted plot is useless. Each character has a complicated life that tangles with the others’ to create this masterpiece. This is the beauty — and binge-worthiness — of “Elite.”

Initially, we thought “Elite” was a reincarnation of “Gossip Girl” — after all, Spain is only a seven-hour-and-41-minute flight from New York. However, unlike “Gossip Girl,” “Elite” wants to make the viewers uncomfortable. The show confronts the realities of growing up as a teenager in a globalized world and questions what it means to be different.  Whether it’s Nadia standing up to the prejudices she faces by wearing her hijab or Ander accepting his sexuality, “Elite” can connect with almost anyone, no matter his or her race, gender, class or religion. 

Some English speaking viewers might think, “What is the point in watching this show if it is filmed in Spanish?” but we urge you to think twice. “Elite” is able to capture an audience of any dialect through the strong and refreshing acting, the gestures and of course the added bonus of subtitles. 

“Elite” offered breakout roles for many of the actors and actresses.  Without being cheesy, the actors convey the complex plot. While we were watching the show, we were immersed in the drama and the relationships of the characters through the realistic acting.  The cinematography and lavish scenes aided in our obsession.

Whether you are procrastinating an English assignment or just plain bored, “Elite” will be your newest TV addiction. Adios and enjoy the journey.