Meet the squad of Netflix's Valeria.


Dept. of Sex and the City


I came upon Valeria purely by chance. I was on one of my frequent trawls through the hidden underbelly of Netflix, looking out for some hidden gem that its algorithm deemed ill-fitting to my tastes (or maybe it was just their marketing department), when I came across what looked like a bit of a romp.

The trailer was a burst of life and colour. It featured four women, best friends, scrambling to make sense of their lives and of their loves. It was chatty. It was sexy. It was set to one of those generic, yet catchy, pop songs. It was Sex and the City. Kinda. Sorta. But in Spanish.

How was this not already on my feed? How dare the algorithm assume that the soapy sex lives of four Spanish women wasn’t something I would enjoy. This is profoundly compelling content dammit.

Diana Gómez is Valeria.

Valeria‘s eponymous lead, played by Diana Gómez (whom you may recognise as Tatiana from Money Heist), suffers from a very different affliction than Carrie Bradshaw. She isn’t looking for love in a city that’s hell-bent on keeping her sad and alone. Hers is more of a mid-life crisis. (Millennials, as you well know, hit mid-life at 30.) She’s unhappy in her marriage to Adri – a decent man who is a little too caught up in his own failings. She once wrote a great short story and is now struggling with impostor syndrome and unable to finish her novel. She also has her very own Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda that come in the form of the brassy but broken Lola (Silma López), the mousy Carmen (Paula Malia), and the inhibited Nerea (Teresa Riott).

Her family thinks she’s a flake. Her husband doesn’t want to sleep with her. Her friends are worried about her. And she’s just met the wildly attractive Victor. What could possibly go wrong?

I mean, look at him:

Maxi Iglesias is Victor in Valeria.
Call me. Seriously. Now! Later? Whenever. I’m cool.

There isn’t anything particularly novel here. The stories of these four women are familiar. Some we’ve seen before. Others we’ve lived ourselves. It is sometimes tropey and sometimes clichéd. And that’s okay. Because new isn’t always what we’re looking for. Valeria doesn’t shy away from its influences. It leans into them. Taking what’s tired and infusing it with personalities that we can relate to and sympathise with. But mostly, with characters that we like and ultimately want to spend time with.

The thing that sets Valeria apart, however, is in its approach to sex. Not just the physical act, but everything around it.

The “sex” in Sex and the City was almost always part of a joke. It was the lead-up to many frequently funny punchlines. Which makes sense given the era that the HBO classic first aired, back when there was still this tendency to undercut raciness with comedy. (Can you believe it was 22 years ago that we first met Carrie and her squad? Hell, it was so long ago, people were only using the word “squad” if they were talking about sport.)

They way this series depicts sex and desire – from the kind of lust that leads to getting pleasured in the middle of a busy public square, to the comic awkwardness of your first time with someone new, to the butterflies that come with forbidden flirtations – feels thrilling and tantalising. With its sharp dialogue and fair share of astute observations, the series successfully navigates both the fact and the fantasy.

I knew I was all in when I realised how involved I was in the texting lives of these four women. Allow me to explain. In Valeria, just as in real life, there are many conversations that take place over text message. Between friends. Between lovers. Between newfound fancies. Take the burgeoning love affair between Valeria and Victor. There are entire scenes where the camera stays with her as she and Victor exchange texts. We get to observe the way her lip curls, the way her body reacts, the way she touches her hair. Her many expressions as she looks down at her phone, how she reacts to every quippy, flirty text, allow us to feel the same sense of excitement that she does. It is some truly solid writing that is elevated to greatness by Diana Gómez’s face.

I knew I was all in when I was sitting there waiting to see how Victor would respond. My anticipation was also heightened by the fact that Netflix slows down the subtitles during these parts, so we first see the text appear on screen in Spanish, and then have to wait a few seconds before getting to read what it says in English.

Maybe you enjoy peering into the lives of others and getting invested in their stories. Maybe you’re still looking for something to fill the decades old void left behind by Sex and the City. Or maybe you just need a reminder of what it was like to have friends that you could hang out with in real life.

These eight episodes might be exactly what you need.

Netflix, Season 1, 8 episodes
Showrunner: María López Castaño
Cast: Diana Gómez, Silma López, Paula Malia, Teresa Riott, Maxi Iglesias, and Ibrahim Al Shami J.

Valeria is now streaming on Netflix.

Uma has been reviewing things for most of his life: movies, television shows, books, video games, his mum's cooking, Bahir's fashion sense. He is a firm believer that the answer to most questions can be found within the cinematic canon. In fact, most of what he knows about life he learned from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. He still hasn't forgiven Christopher Nolan for the travesties that are Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises.

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