Netflix have been on a roll recently with its Spanish Originals. From the deliciously twisty-turny mystery of Alta Mar across to teenage whodunit Elite, the catalogue extends far beyond this to include some real hidden gems, including The Ministry Of Time. This latest Spanish Original Valeria is not a particularly challenging watch but it’s a very specific show that rides the coat-tail of Sex and the City, but does so with little in the way of originality making for an average but enjoyable melodrama so far.
Episode 1 of Valeria begins with the sound of car horns outside as we cut inside an apartment and see our protagonist Valeria hit with a nasty snag of writer’s block. As she deliberates over the best way to proceed with her book, she instead takes to the internet where she researches about writing. As time slips by, Valeria races off to her interview at the museum but learns that it’s a full time job rather than a part time gig. Realizing she’ll have less time to procrastinate over writing, she finishes the interview and calls her friends Lola, Carmen and Nerea to meet her for drinks that night to unwind.
After discussing her job and teasing Carmen about her shyness toward men, they turn their attention back to Val’s novel but her latest idea prompts laughs around the table. As the evening draws to a close, Val receives texts from her husband Adri and heads home after saying goodbye to Lola.
With big financial problems, Val visits her sister Rebe and asks for a loan. When she refuses, Val heads back home feeling more hopeless than before and struggling to put words on paper. Instead of working however, Val is invited out by her friends to unwind and also receives an email from the museum confirming she’s got the job.
When Val heads out to the club Lola is nowhere to be found, instead happening to be upstairs with her married lover Sergio. Val locks eyes with a handsome stranger at the party who happens to be Lola’s mysterious friend, Victor. They get talking and he encourages her to finish the novel to make herself happy, but to actually market it toward what sells – sex.
Adri lies in bed messaging Val, informing her he’s lost his job. He sends it just as Val gets off the phone to the museum informing them she’s going to decline the job. As she gets into a cab to take her home, taxi drivers swarm around the car and start shouting at the driver while Val remains inside, which is where the episode ends.
Aside from the very random and contrived burst of drama at the end with the taxi drivers swarming around the car, this Sex and the City set-up actually gets off the ground quite well with a quirky tone and some nicely placed humour surrounding Val struggling with writer’s block. As a writer myself seeing her attempts at dealing with this are certainly well-written and play nicely on the humour.
The girls have okay chemistry but it’s too early to tell how well this is going to play out going forward. It’s predictable, melodramatic and pretty formulaic stuff with its cliched love triangle angle, but there’s enough here to pique the interest to keep watching. Whether Valeria can keep this up throughout its run however, remains to be seen.