The dark side of the music industry is one of the best documented. The stories of countless artists who have been exploited throughout their careers are many, and they are really compelling when seen as cautionary tales. Like many other industries, including film and television, the music industry thinks only in numbers. It thinks about how to make money and how to always be the next big thing. The artists that manage to deal with the workload, and remain relevant, are very few and far between.
Tackling this subject comes the new Netflix show from Spain, Fanático, which means fan in Spanish. The show tells the story of Lazaro, a young man trapped in a delivery job and trying to make ends meet. Lazaro is clearly disappointed with his life, even when he has a beautiful girlfriend, Clara, beside him. When a famous rapper named Quimera dies, Lazaro sees the opportunity to take his place and live the life of fame and riches that the late rapper was not able to take advantage of.
Fanático is a very strange show. The first season contains only five episodes, and they are very short. The first episode lasts around 20 minutes, and the rest run for only 15 minutes each, sometimes even less. Why was this a TV show and not a movie? It is a baffling decision. The episodic nature of the story is non-existent. It would have been a better decision to present the story in movie form instead of just cutting it into five episodes.
None of the episodes work around a theme or subject so that they can justify the cutting. It feels like the story was presented in this fashion because Netflix wanted a TV series and not a movie. As a consequence of the strange presentation, the show doesn’t really take the advantage that a series format can offer. The plot is set up by a very solid first act, but then the developments of the story just happen one after the other, and they don’t hold any weight.
This lack of development really hurts the plot and the characters. Maybe the series’ short running time is trying to be a symbol of how the careers of these musicians are just a leaf in the wind and nothing more; they come and go just as quickly. Perhaps that is the reason the story never stops to think about the things that are happening and analyze them. The story continues as if there was some sort of limit on what they could show.
When the ending comes, the series tries to loop around to the first episode, and it tries to present this loop as a sort of revelation, but it fails to earn the weight of the moment. The ending of this season thus feels more like a gimmick than anything else. It is a really strange thing to see. The thematic work that has been done on the show at this point is almost none. There just have been a lot of moments stitched together.
The show remains entertaining to watch, in the way it is hard to take your eyes from a car crash. Lazaro’s descent into the darkest places in the music industry happens so fast and it is so obvious that it feels like a train wreck of epic proportions. How could this person not see that this is what was going to happen? There were so many red flags on the way that it is interesting that Lazaro never saw even one of them.
Which takes us to the casting. The series stars Lorenzo Ferro as Lazaro, and he is accompanied by Eva Almeida, Carlota Urdiales, Fernando Valdivielso y Dollar Selmouni. Lazaro is not a very compelling protagonist. He isn’t very smart or talented in any way, so the premise falls apart very quickly. For some reason, Lazaro and Quimera are doppelgängers. This is never explained, but the fact that the record label just goes with Lazaro taking the place of the late rapper feels cartoonish. Especially when Lazaro has nothing to offer besides his looks.
Maybe that is what the show is trying to convey, the shallowness of it all. However, it wouldn’t be true to say that artists only matter because of their looks and nothing more. A special kind of person is needed in order to handle being a popular artist and a celebrity. The recent Elvis film shows it very well. You require talent and so much more to be able to handle the industry. If you don’t have that, you won’t go very far. So there is a contradiction here. Do Lazaro and Quimera have what it takes or not?
Lazaro isn’t very compelling because he isn’t interesting enough, which is a weird choice for a protagonist. His girlfriend, Carla, is a thousand times more fascinating than Lazaro. It would have been better to follow that character and her life. It would have been a different show, for sure, but a more intriguing one. Almeida really shines in the show. The same goes for Valdivielso, who plays the perfect shady music manager to perfection.
Fanático is strange and inconsistent. It presents its story in the most strange of ways. There are more episodes to come, so maybe the entire premise can feel more complete once we get those episodes in. As it is, it is better to wait for those to come because the show feels too incomplete without them.