Don't let the crap name put you off
Like a cross between Ocean’s Eleven, Baby Driver and (in its more soap-opera moments) Prison Break, Money Heist is a lithe, punchy crime drama, and its second half hit Netflix on Friday (April 6). Its Spanish name is way cooler: La Casa de Papel translates as ‘House of Paper’ or ‘Paper House’ – subtly teasing the brutal plot of this series, which follows a group of criminals infiltrating the Royal Mint of Spain to print 2.4 billion euros during an 11-day police siege.
Maybe Netflix thought a literal translation of the name would have been too similar to its one-time ace-in-the-hole, House of Cards, but the name they’ve chosen does no justice to this thrilling series’ contents. If you’re a fan of any of the above crime dramas, Money Heist will have you hooked across its 22 episodes. But, before you begin, there’s five more things you should know.
1. It’s in Spanish – but only if you want it to be
If you hate watching foreign-language shows with subtitles, Netflix has got you covered. They’ve dubbed the entire series into English as a default – but you can optionally choose to watch in Spanish, with or without English subtitles. If you really want to absorb the personality of the show, stick with the original Spanish.
2. The criminals are all code-named after cities
The series is about eight multi-talented criminals, hired by a mysterious man called ‘The Professor’ to perform the titular heist. Their codenames are famous cities – Berlin, Rio, Helsinki and so on. Our narrator and real heroine is Tokyo, but most of them are great in their own way.
While the eight conduct the heist, ‘El Profesor’ sits in the town outside the Royal Mint in his base of operations: here he watches their moves, manipulates the police and generally keeps an eye on things.
3. The criminals don’t plan to hurt anyone
Though the press photos for La Casa de Papel show the group armed to the teeth with weapons, the heist planned by El Profesor is meant to be non-violent: initially, the guns are only for show as they round up 67 hostages and force the police to keep their distance from the Royal Mint. Things tend to go south as the series progresses, but this is not the all-guns-blazing heist story you’d expect if this series had been produced in America.
4. You’ll spend half the time rooting for the police
Raquel Murillo (Itziar Ituño) is the police’s inspector, in charge of dealing with the criminals and bringing the heist to an end. Over the 11 days of the series, she and El Profesor spend hours on the phone in a verbal game of chess. Murillo is a formidable opponent to our criminal anti-heroes – and you’ll more than likely want her to take them down every now and then.
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5. There probably won’t be a third season
“Unfortunately,” writes Deadline, “it looks like Parts 1 + 2 are all we’ll be getting of La Casa de Papel on Netflix.”
In Spain, the series aired as 15 episodes lasting 70 minutes. Netflix broke up the content into 22 episodes – meaning they were shorter and slightly easier to binge. But when the story ends at the end of season 2, that’s your lot – meaning Money Heist is a rarity in the streaming age: a new show that’s given to you whole. Full stop.