Jaci Stephen casts her eye over Netflix’s latest catch. But will she be hooked?
Silvana Sin Lana (Netflix, English/Spanish subtitles)
Not in my wildest nightmares would I ever hook up with a man who smelled of fish. Women have enough to contend with in the seafood department, trying to disguise the smells their nether parts emit even at the best of times, so why add another scale to the drama?
It was with some trepidation, therefore, that I turned to Silvana Sin Lana for my first review for The Valencian. Written by Sandra Velasco for Telemundo, it’s adapted from an original story by Rodrigo Bastidas and Elene Muñoz and is a remake of the Chilean version, Pituca Sin Lucas.
It’s one of dozens of Spanish language dramas with subtitles on Netflix, and this one, at 121 episodes, already feels like 120 too long. Life as I know it may be over.
So, to the story.
Silvana (Maritza Rodriguez) is an attractive woman married to a very rich man and lives in a bleached white house with bleached white walls, complete with bleached white bedding, and drives a bleached white car. You can tell she’s rich because she has very high ceilings and there’s not an open box of Rice Krispies in sight.
She has three children: the proverbial blonde, brattish one who’s clearly going to be a tonne load of trouble and will be pregnant by episode 27 (would be my guess); a thin, sensitive one to whom everyone will turn when the adults fail miserably at carrying out their parental duties; and a plump, young one who will keep eating all the pies just as she appears to have been doing since she exited the womb.
It all looks very cosy until Silvana’s husband, working late at the office, does a runner in a helicopter when the cops arrive. He is clearly a wrong ’un, and leaves his family destitute, with bailiffs arriving within seconds to strip them of their home, second home, and everything they own.
Enter fishmonger Manuel (Carlos Ponce). He’s handsome, of course – like all those guys in Hallmark movies who just so happen to be widowers alone at Christmas when lonely women in PR (it’s always bloody PR) need a hunky shoulder to help them up off the ice rink.
He’s single and being chased by the proverbial town slut, Stella (Marimar Vega), and his three sons are keen for him to meet someone better (it’s a very low bar; I suspect he’ll be fine). In the opening episode, he’s won some kind of fisherman/shopkeeping award (I have no idea – it’s smaller than a goldfish), and arrives back to the market stalls to riotous applause.
We’re not talking Captain Birdseye here; Manuel is hot. Very, very hot. One suspects there are not many local women who would say no to his fish fingers.
Anyway, once the celebrations are over, who backs into his van but our new local, Silvana, downgraded from her posh lifestyle and having to slum it in a semi in a neighbourhood that appears to have only fish on the menu (as Manuel’s three boys complain…. Oh yes, did I mention them? I think we’re on three brides for three brothers territory here – or four, if Manuel gets his fish fingers anywhere near Silvana).
Naturally, they hate each other after several altercations involving talk about insurance and lost produce (the fish, from Canada, is apparently rendered useless because it is now too cold – or not cold enough? I forget. I’m already done with fish and there are 120 episodes to go).
Well, imagine the surprise when it turns out that the pair are neighbours and living next door to each other in the adjoining semis.
It’s a good, old-fashioned rags-to-riches, capitalism-versus-socialism yarn about what happens to privileged people when they’re brought down to size and are forced to realise what real life is like for pretty much everyone else. It was filmed in Miami and has won several awards there, though at the moment it’s rather vague about whether that is actually where it’s set.
Literally translated, it means Silvana Without Wool, which gives you no clue as to what ballpark we might be in geographically. Suffice it to say, we know what it is, where it’s going, and how it’s going to get there.
Call it a fishing expedition. A long one. A very, very long one.
Three stars out of five
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Jaci Stephen writes the Soapwatch column for Daily Mail Weekend; you can read more at jacistephen.com Silvana Sin Lana (Netflix, English/Spanish subtitles)