Netflix Review: Elite is Gossip Girl on Steroids

Elite is a Spanish web television series about three working class teens that attend a wealthy school. With all the drama that ensues, episode 1 reveals that there is a murder that takes place as someone from the main cast is responsible for the death of another main character. This series caught me by surprise, and it’s sort of like if Gossip Girl and Big Little Lies had a baby. Also, times the drama by 15 because there’s a lot packed into this eight episode series. I’ll be breaking up the review into the sets of characters who shared a story line. Read with caution because this does contain spoilers. Let’s start with the romance and then we’ll get to the murder.

Everything Marina, Samuel & Nano: So Samuel likes Marina. Nano likes Marina. And Samuel and Nano are brothers. Cue the drama. At first, I thought Marina was miscast because I did not feel the chemistry with Samuel, but then I realized that maybe we as an audience weren’t supposed to buy them as a couple because her chemistry with Nano was so much more intense. I feel bad for Samuel, but I also wished he stood up for himself more because as much as Marina was going through, she was a terrible girlfriend to him. Also regarding Samuel, I adored his friendship with Omar. I actually liked Samuel supporting his friends way more than his interactions with Marina.

Polo, Christian & Carla: Okay I was not expecting there to be a story line like this. Polo and Carla have been together forever, but they’re bored. So enters Christian who becomes obsessed with fitting in with the elite crowd, and we’ve got a throuple. It’s a pretty messed up story line because both Polo and Christian would do anything for Carla, include share her with another man, but I couldn’t take my eyes away from this captivating plot. You can tell that Christian enjoys the luxury and I have to hand it to the actor because he’s kind of like a cartoon character. But with Polo, there’s much more of a darkness with his adoration with Carla.

Guzman and Nadia: Guzman is the top dog at school. We establish that he’s supposed to be the rich popular guy. He starts off dating Lu, his other popular counterpart, and they make a bet to take new girl Nadia’s virginity. Nadia is a Muslim girl who struggles with her family values and her school life, but she’s one tough cookie. Her romance with Guzman was so innocent and sweet. To see the chemistry build episode after episode without ever sealing things with a kiss makes them such a rootable couple for the second season. I like that they’re both pretty imperfect as well. Guzman can be materialistic and lose his temper. Nadia can be close minded sometimes. But somehow, they work.

Ander and Omar: I saved the best for last because I loved watching these two on screen. Ander is the classic “athlete rich kid” who feels all this pressure from his family to be a tennis star. What I really liked about Ander was that he would always be the quiet or neutral one among the popular crew but when he blew up, you knew he was a lot more layered. While Ander seems to be angry a times, Omar is simply living his life¬† in fear. Omar is Nadia’s sister who happens to be a gay drug dealing Muslim. They’re from two completely different worlds, but the chemistry between them is electric. The actors are really fantastic, and their forbidden romance is hands down my favorite plot of the bunch because they’re so darn cute together. Who’s down for a double date between, Guzman and Nadia and Ander and Omar?

The Murder: MAJOR SPOILERS*¬†So Marina dies. We find out in episode one and we’re supposed to believe it was either Samuel or Nano because of all the relationship drama. For some reason, my dumb ass believed it was the teacher for some reason. Once Samuel accused the teacher of sleeping with Marina, I thought we were going to get real dark considering it cost him his job.

Similarly, in Big Little Lies, I thought the father of Ziggy was going to be Madeline’s ex for some reason, and I thought Noel Kahn was the first A from Pretty Little Liars. I was wrong again. It was Polo. And it was actually done pretty masterfully in terms of storytelling. We get this threesome story line that very much feels separate from the other plot points, but it all makes perfect sense as things escalate over a watch that Carla is desperate to get back. Polo is so madly in love with Carla that it leads him to murdering Marina after a heated argument. I also was so in love with characters like Nadia and Ander that I was praying it wouldn’t be one of my favorite characters. And we also slowly learn that Polo is a bit messed up himself so it all ties together well.

Something that Pretty Little Liars failed to do was give people the correct motives, but by the final episode, everyone has a motive and a damn good one at that. And something Gossip Girl also failed to do was stay on track with its original mystery after a few seasons. This show really impressed me, and I’m shocked it doesn’t get more attention because it really deserves it. The acting is great. The murder was a great premise, but all the drama that ensues in between is gripping as well. I cannot wait for a second season.

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Netflix Review: You

You was a series I was excited to watch immediately after its episode one airing on Lifetime. Then, all of a sudden, I was in the UK, and there was no way of watching the series legally. I was bummed after seeing what could be a great guilty pleasure. Then, I hear the entire season is on Netflix, and I waste no time binging through the remaining nine episodes. And boy, it was exhilarating.

The series stars Gossip Girl’s Penn Badgley who plays Joe, a book store worker who meets a young graduate student, Beck, and instantly falls for her from first sight. Joe starts finding out more about Beck (Elizabeth Lail) , such as a mild social media search and a quick address search in Google maps. Sounds like stuff we’ve all done right? But something isn’t right, as Joe starts stalking her, watching her, breaking into her apartment and a variety of creepy activities in his all black getup and a cap. His infatuation turns into an obsession and the scariest part is that from Beck’s perspective, Joe seems like the perfect gentleman.

The series definitely has a Lifetime feel, don’t get me wrong. The show is not something that is always the most smartly crafted series ever, but it really embraces that guilty pleasure feel that I miss in a series. Every episode is unpredictable as Badgley shows Joe’s erratic behavior perfectly through his eyes and clenched demeanor every time something doesn’t go his way. It’s a social media horror story, as Instagram and Twitter become key mediums for Joe to pull off some of his shenanigans. Additionally, it’s relevant more than ever as dating apps and “sliding into the DMs” are the new ways of meeting people these days.

The show largely benefits from the fact that Joe is the one narrating every creepy thought he has, and it’s twisted that we can actually empathize with him at times, especially when we see him care for his neighbor, Paco.

Pretty Little Liars star Shay Mitchell also stars in the series as Beck’s spoiled Queen Bee friend who is smarter than she appears, as she catches on to Joe’s sketchy behavior quite quickly into the series. John Stamos also makes a surprise appearance as Joe’s therapist late into the series. These guest stars add to the overall drama and both play key roles in how the story unfolds.

The 10 episodes fly by quickly, and the ending left me pretty satisfied as the finale escalated to a point when I started saying “How are they possibly going to wrap this up?” If a series has me asking that by the final episode, that’s a good sign. With the twist at the very end, I’m not sure how strong a second installment of the series will do, but I’ll definitely be tuning in to see how the second chapter will go down.