Netflix keeps pushing its international productions. It seems that every week there is a new movie or TV show made out of the Hollywood system that is being released on the platform. It is a very interesting phenomenon to study. On one hand, it seems that Netflix is quickly becoming a platform where productions outside of Hollywood can find the biggest possible audiences. Squid Game didn’t become the global phenomenon it was because Netflix didn’t have enough reach outside the world.
This development in the way international productions are able to reach the homes of audiences in countless other countries is fascinating. This means that more talent will possibly be able to jump frontiers. The entertainment industry should be a global one, and Netflix is taking those first steps towards that goal.
Welcome to Eden is a TV series created by Joaquín Górriz y Guillermo Lopez. The series stars Amaia Aberasturi, Belinda Peregrin, Albert Baró, Cesar Mateo y Amaia Salamanca, among others. It tells the story of a group of teens who after being invited to a party are then forced into becoming part of a cult with mysterious intentions. The teens will find out that escaping the island will be a lot harder than they think.
Welcome to Eden could be labeled a Teen Drama, as most of its protagonists are basically young beautiful people. The show really doesn’t make any effort in trying to hide its influences. The show is basically a mix between Lost, The Hunger Games, Squid Game and the 100. All of these are amazing shows. Some of them, like Lost, changed the TV space forever after their release, and others like Squid Game showed that international productions can have the same level of quality as any other show made in America.
The show’s influences might be too obvious, though. It is clear that the creatives are trying to match all these different elements from all these successful stories and expect to have the same level of success as those. If they manage to accomplish their goal, only time will tell, but Welcome to Eden lacks its own identity and that is something those other shows had plenty of.
Visually, the show is gorgeous to look at. The production takes advantage of its beautiful locations, and the island itself becomes part of the show. There are plenty of times when the show calls the island a paradise on Earth, and there are plenty of times when it feels true. The island seems to have many biodomes, from the stunning beaches, to deep jungle and even a rocky wasteland. It would be a really cool place to visit without all the sketchy cult stuff.
The camera work is standard for any TV production, there aren’t really any shots that call back to a very specific or curated visual style. However, the lack of artistry is compensated with clarity. The cinematography really knows how to accentuate the mysterious tone of the show, but never makes very obvious movements as to where to hide things from the viewer.
The setting of the show is pretty cool, but in terms of plot, the story takes its time. Maybe a bit too much, there are times when each episode ends, and it feels like more should have happened. Towards the end of the season, the pace builds up and becomes quite more bearable. The twists and turns are pretty obvious, and most of the tension comes from the interaction between the characters. It is going to be interesting to see how the creators manage to take this concept into further seasons.
The cast is equally pretty, some actors do show some range, but it is very clear that most of them were cast because of their great appearance. There is nothing wrong with that, but it breaks the reality of the show a bit when everybody is pretty all the time. A bit more variety would have been welcome.
However, it doesn’t matter how pretty the actors are, getting to know them seems to be not a priority for the show. Aldo, Africa and Zoa for example, only show glimpses of whom they really are throughout the show, and they mostly stay one note. That doesn’t make for good drama or good TV, as the stakes become very limited.
A subplot, involving Zoa’s younger sister, seems to be quite more engaging as the little actress shows ten times more emotion and intensity than anybody else on the show. You really buy the fact that she is worried about her sister and that she needs to find her because she knows there is something wrong. Maybe the actress Berta Castañé can have a bigger role if the story continues on a future season. She is a more compelling protagonist than her sister.
Welcome to Eden offers some entertainment, but the influences are just too obvious. If the show manages to go beyond this first season, it could have a chance to find its own identity. In its current form the show is a nice binge, the episodes are only 30 minutes long, and you will watch them in a blink.