Money Heist is a terrible name for a TV show. Especially one that is actually about a money heist. I mean, it would be fine if the show was a romantic comedy set in an aquarium. Then the name would sound clever and cryptic. As it is, calling Money Heist ‘Money Heist’ would be like calling The Sopranos ‘Gangster Men,’ or Coronation Street ‘Northerners In A Pub.’ It leaves little to the imagination. But Money Heist is a Spanish drama that, in its home country, is actually called La Casa De Papel which, obviously, sounds much cooler. What does that literally translate as? There is no way of knowing.
But knowing those Spaniards, it probably means something dead romantic and mysterious. So I guess the only person to blame for the shit title is the in-house translator over at Netflix, who are the otherwise clever bastards who decided to bring this show to a British audience.
Because the title is the only shit thing about it. The premise is simple: a tweedy criminal mastermind going by the name of ‘The Professor’ recruits a super-group of eight maverick criminals to rob the Spanish Royal Mint. The team is comprised of various experts (the tech wizard, the master forger, the charmer, the violent wild card) each of whom go by thematic code names (Rio, Berlin, Moscow, Denver). Their plan is devilish and meticulous; but, of course, the unexpected happens, mistakes are made and best-laid plans end up in tatters. In other words, it unashamedly embraces all of the familiar tropes of the genre.
Their plan is devilish and meticulous; but, of course, the unexpected happens
And why not? We all love a heist movie: the tension, the action and the high stakes are all built in. And it is easy to root for the sort of criminal whose only ambition is to get rich quick – not at the expense of other individuals but of huge, faceless institutions. The cavalier spirit of the men and women at the heart of Money Heist is impossible not to love. Of course, they muck things up along the way – it would struggle to go beyond two episodes if everything went according to plan. But career villains never really want things to go too smoothly.
About 20 years ago I got to know Bruce Reynolds, the leader of the Great Train Robbers who held up the Royal Mail money train in 1963. After the robbery he was on the run in South America for five years before getting bored and coming home to effectively turn himself in. For men like that, meaning can only be derived from constantly experiencing life’s biggest highs and most sickening lows. For men like me, watching thrilling Spanish dramas on Netflix is quite enough.
Seasons 1 and 2 of Money Heist are available to watch on Netflix now