‘La Casa de Papel’ arrests viewers’ attention

The masked criminals transcend television, striking a chord with fans and creating a much larger global impact.

Annette Khechoumian

The masked criminals transcend television, striking a chord with fans and creating a much larger global impact.

La Casa de Papel is one of Netflix’s most popular shows for a reason. Tens of millions of fans worldwide are hooked to the series and have manifested several features of the show into their lives. 

Perhaps the most gripping aspect of La Casa de Papel is the complexities of the characters that so many shows fall short of achieving. These characters are hardly considered typical heroes; they all make mistakes, have weaknesses and have less-than-commendable pasts. These details as well as their distinct personalities, strengths and chemistry with each other elevate the viewer’s connection with them.

Protagonist and gang member Tokyo narrates the series as she and her companions pull off a meticulously planned heist at the Royal Mint of Spain. She and her friends Rio, Nairobi, Berlin, Denver, Moscow, Helsinki and Oslo had studied the plan for five months in order to perfectly execute the crime. This plan was made by the mastermind who calls himself The Professor, an oddly charming, genius who accounts for every single variable in the heist to ensure success. Later the team also targets the Bank of Spain, an even riskier heist.

Despite the gang’s radical actions, they are unprovocative to the police force and fair to their hostages. On top of that, they have the support of the general public because the people rather enjoy watching their corrupt government be threatened, which is a key part of the plan. These factors encourage the authorities to carefully negotiate with The Professor.

Amid flashbacks and tranquil moments in the heist, there is no shortage of nerve-racking plot twists and high-risk situations that instill a sense of urgency in the viewer. La Casa de Papel will keep even the most seasoned action-movie watcher on edge. It seems no one can keep up with The Professor.

The iconography in La Casa de Papel also sets it apart from other shows. The team wears their distinct uniform of a red jumpsuit and Salvador Dali mask and has an unofficial anthem called “Bella Ciao.” This theme song was aptly chosen, as it has its origins in Italian partisan resistance. 

La Casa de Papel is helping fans all around the world express themselves using these symbols. From celebrations in soccer stadiums in Greece to political protests in Lebanon, the show evidently resonates with viewers. Like The Professor and his team, fans use nonviolence to make a statement about a topic they are passionate about. 

In El Fenómeno, a documentary showcasing the making and effect La Casa de Papel has had on people, producers revealed that the show was nearly scrapped altogether. Parts one and two of the show had aired on Spanish television, and despite an impressive viewership in the beginning, interest in the show began to plummet. This is where Netflix stepped in and added the show to their catalog, and viewership skyrocketed. Thanks to this, 65 million people in the U.S., Brazil, Argentina, Turkey, France and elsewhere have watched the  series.

The writers also revealed that episodes are written during filming. This leaves the plot open to every possibility should there be a wish to steer it in a certain direction. Fans are impatiently awaiting the next season, as the last released episode left with a major cliffhanger.