NETFLIX debuted its first Spanish language series CLUB DE CUERVOS set in the world of professional futbol (know as soccer in America) I had to give the show a try. Since my Spanish is not as good as it once was, I only planned on watching the first episode to see how much I could understand. I also assumed that because of the futbol setting there would be a lot of scenes featuring soccer games, for which there wouldn’t be much dialogue. NETFLIX wisely includes subtitles so I ended up binging the 13 episodes of season one over a day and a half. The catalyst of the story is the death of the Iglesias patriarch, leaving siblings Isabel (Mariana Treviño) and Chava ( Luis Gerardo Méndez) as the heirs to his empire. Set in a small Mexican town, the Iglesias family basically built and became responsible for most of the town’s industry because of the futbol league.
During the reading of their father’s will, it’s revealed that his estate is to be equally divided among all his children, which gives his much younger wife Mary Luz the chance to announce that she’s pregnant, meaning Isabel and Chava will have to share their inheritance with the newest heir. Isabel is convinced that the baby is a product of an affair and insists Mary Luz agree to a DNA test. Chava has more of a soft spot for Mary Luz, who is definitely hiding some secrets.
The first half of the series mostly focuses on the conflict between Chava and Isabel. Chava has been named President of the team, over Isabel even though she has an MBA and spent everyday working beside her father up until his death. Chava is charismatic but lacks any real knowledge about running the team, which propels most of the story. CLUB DE CUERVOS is honest in its storytelling in regards to the chauvinistic attitudes towards women in the corporate world. In her personal life, we see Isabel as an equal in her marriage with soon to retire goal keeper Rafael (Antonio de la Vega). As the battle between Isabel and Chava escalates, the two show that they’re willing to go to any lengths to gain the power they both desire and believe they deserve.
As the season progresses, we start to gain a little more insight into some of the players and their lives. The introduction of a player from Spain causes disruption to the locker room as the team has to adjust to his superstar status. Later in the season, homophobia in the sports and Latin communities is explored when one of the players is outed, although he emphatically describes himself as pansexual. This story gives viewers an opportunity to gain real insight into the true character of Isabel and Chava and the lines they will and won’t cross for business.
The origin story for CLUB DE CUERVOS isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, but it’s told in a compelling and sometimes fun way. While there are moments of sex, I was expecting the show to be sexier, which it really isn’t. The show moves into some very dark places as the season progresses which pulled me in and made me want to keep watching. Surprisingly there’s no big love story in the show. I’m a bit ambivalent about that decision. On one hand I think the show presented so many complicated relationships that a bigger love story might have been a distraction. But, on the other hand, there are a couple of characters that could have used a love story that would have worked as part of the larger umbrella story.
CLUB DE CUERVOS isn’t technically a telenovela but by the end of the season, it does give most of the characters enough closure in case there isn’t a season two. However, the story is broad enough that there are more stories to be told with the Iglesias family, the futbol league and the players. For its first effort embarking into the Spanish language series, NETFLIX definitely gets an “A” for its effort to expand its content beyond English language programming.
Check out the trailer for CLUB DE CUERVOS below: