Netflix Review: White Lines (2020)

It’s got the swish location. It’s got the glamour, and the trashiness, of 1990s Ibiza and ageing Manchester people remembering their former glory two years on. It’s got a critically acclaimed director (Alex Piña, of Money Heist), and the best soundtrack to a TV show which I have ever heard, combining the biggest house tracks of the day with current EDM bangers. All in all, it’s got all the ingredients for one of the best shows around.

In the current era of streaming, every new show seems exactly the same as something which has come before it; slightly different plot, slightly different accents, but essentially the same. ‘White Lines’ feels almost identical in nature to my favourite show of all time – ‘Queen Of The South’ – but has English and Spanish accents, as opposed to American and Mexican, and is about an unsolved murder from 2000 (or 1998, it’s never really made clear).

Axel Collins vanished on the night of his 24th birthday party (a 24 hour party), and was never seen again. At least, until a freak storm takes place in the opening scene of episode 1, and enough sand in Valencia lifts to reveal his body, which by now, it is obvious had been murdered and buried in the desert. His sister, Zoe, who struggled greatly following his disappearance, comes to Ibiza to try and find her brother’s killer. Although, as is pointed out to her repeatedly, she appears to forget that most of the time.

There is a sprawling cast throughout this show, each character with ridiculous character quirks. Take David, played by Laurence Fox (of ‘Lewis’ fame, or more recently, deciding to try and become relevant again by deciding that white people have it tough, on Question Time), who runs a hippie commune, and spends most of his time talking about spirituality whilst taking copious amounts of hallucogenics. Or Oriol Calafat (Juan Diego Botto), prime suspect in Axel’s murder, who struggles to live up to his father’s ideals, has the Oedipus complex with his domineering mother (yes- that is actually a plot; it emerges he was forced to have a tattoo of her close to his crotch) and ends up in ridiculous situation after ridiculous situation.

Indeed, that seems to be this show. Zoe (Laura Haddock) instigates a lot of this chaos; her first interaction with ‘Boxer’ (Nuno Lopes) comes when she shoots him with a harpoon gun in a swimming pool. Every episode, at least three times, you’re left wondering what the producers were on when they created this – but it’s never bad. It’s well acted – Daniel Mays and Angela Griffin are two big-name stars, playing ex-lovers – and I would absolutely love a second series, but don’t expect high quality plotting and exquisite dialogue.

It’s fun escapism, with a really good soundtrack. It’s crazy, but enjoyable, and I would recommend anyone to take 9 or 10 hours from the miserable world to enjoy it. It incorporates a lot of telenovela tropes – to be expected from Alex Piña (I have been watching Money Heist too) – and there is a LOT of sex and even more violence. But it makes you feel like you’re in Ibiza, even though you probably, sadly, aren’t. I do think the plot could continue for another series of 10 episodes, as there are enough loose threads, but that depends on the figures. It’s been #1 on the UK’s Netflix since its release last week (add Netflix original to British actors and it’s a guaranteed success), and it deserves to be. White Lines really is the right name for the show – it is a drug that you can’t get enough of.

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