Series review: Valeria
- The new eight-episode series produced by Netflix and Plano a Plano, and directed by Inma Torrente and Nely Reguera, is not dazzlingly original but is a light-hearted, entertaining dramedy
Valeria (Diana Gómez) is a 28-year-old aspiring writer who is working on her first novel, but has been hit by the typical writer's block and diagnoses herself as suffering from impostor syndrome. She needs to deliver the first draft of her book as soon as possible, and this piles a lot of stress upon her. The woman lives with her husband, Adrián (Ibrahim Al Shami), a photographer whose most recent gig was filming the live-streamed yoga sessions of a young influencer. The couple seem to struggle both financially and emotionally. This is the premise of Valeria, the new eight-episode TV series directed by duo Inma Torrente (episodes 1, 2, 3, 7 and 8) and Nely Reguera (episodes 4, 5 and 6). The show was developed by María López Castaño (the TV series A Different View and Diablo Guardián).
The series revolves around two main levels of conflict: the first is related to the shattered dreams and the frustration felt by Valeria and Adrián in their respective professional fields; the second, more banally, focuses on the two lead characters' troubled love story, alongside the sentimental misfortunes of their friends. Valeria shares her concerns with her three besties, Carmen (Paula Malia), Lola (Silma López) and Nerea (Teresa Riott), who, just like her, are immersed in a whirlwind of emotions made of love, infidelity, sexual pleasures, secrets and worries about their future.
Valeria is a clumsy but passionate woman who, like many other Spanish Millennials, is forced to take on an odd job to pay the bills – here, the role of a security guard in a museum, tasked with “supervising” a giant, square sculpture, awaits her. Valeria reveals herself to be an all-too-familiar “fish out of water” character, a sort of Amélie 2.0, who is an avid user of instant-messaging apps, enjoys reading the mottos and motivational quotes printed on her teabags and, overall, is much less modest than her original French counterpart. The Amélie-like vibes of the character are also strengthened by the colourful, glossy cinematography (the series was lensed by Johnny Yebra) and the extensive use of musical interludes. Many of these are effective (Serafyn's “Good Thing” playing during the scene set in the park after Valeria's disappointing meeting with a publisher and Bomba Estéreo's “Fuego” used as the main theme for Carmen's scenes of passion are good examples), whilst some feel excessive and add very little to the series' diegetic development. On a positive note, the characters of Carmen, Lola and Nerea, though rather stereotypical and a bit over the top, are generally pleasant and humorous.
All in all, Valeria does not dazzle in terms of its originality but is certainly a light-hearted, entertaining programme that adequately combines comedy, romance and drama, supported by good performances and funny dialogue, though perhaps somewhat spoilt by the presence of certain soap opera-like moments (and characters – especially the young architect Victor, played by Maxi Iglesias) that may appeal to a younger audience and the genre's aficionados, but which risk discouraging more casual viewers and those who may be less familiar with Spanish productions.
Valeria was produced by Netflix and Madrid-based outfit Plano a Plano. The series will premiere on the popular streaming platform on 8 May.
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