La Casa de Papel, otherwise known as Money Heist, is a thrilling, Alex Pina-created Spanish-language series that first made its debut on Spanish television in 2017. Jam-packed with action, twists, sexual tension, and drama, the show follows eight thieves taking hostages and locking themselves in the Royal Mint of Spain as the brilliant criminal mastermind Professor manipulates the police to carry out his plan.
The story, narrated in a real time complete with flashbacks, time-jumps, and hidden character motivations from the perspective of one of the sultry robbers, Tokyo (played by Ursula Corbero), became such a hit that it recorded an astounding 4.3 million views upon debut.
While it was initially intended as a limited series to be told in two parts, it didn’t take long for streaming giant Netflix to swiftly acquire streaming rights, which thrust Money Heist into full view of the global audience. It was the adrenaline-fuelled entertainment the world needed. In 2018, the show bagged Best Drama Series at the 46th International Emmy Awards. It also became the most-watched non-English-language series and one of the most-watched series on Netflix.
Fans were hooked, devouring episode after episode, and the show went on to achieve superb success, copping 65 million households with its fourth season in its first month, and earning a cult following. Not only has it become a worldwide phenomenon, it also transcended into one of the largest pop culture phenomena of this generation i.e. the Salvador Dali mask and red overalls are instantly recognisable anywhere in the world.
Undoubtedly, the series will leave behind a legacy of being one of the most beloved international shows ever made and a beacon for more Spanish-language content to hit the global market. As it comes to a close this year with its fifth and final season, Tatler speaks to Money Heist actress Ursula Corbero as she prepares to say goodbye to the world's greatest heist and her character, Tokyo.
Money Heist has undeniably opened the floodgates for more Spanish-language content. In your opinion, why do you think the global audience loves the show so much?
Ursula Corbero (UC): That’s the big question. We talked a lot about this with our colleagues, the cast, the crew, and each one has a different theory. I believe it’s not just one thing, it’s an amalgamation of a few different things that took place.
If I had to choose one, I would say that what the audience loves is that they feel like what they see could potentially happen to them. If you take a look at the characters, they're not powerful or special people. They're just vulnerable, regular people in difficult circumstances and they have the courage to stand up to the powerful people, to face them, and to confront them.