It was an experience enjoyable watching “Merlí: Sapere Aude” season 1, a 2019 Spanish and Catalonia comedy-drama series, created by Héctor Lozano, which flirts with Philosophy.

“Merlí. Sapere Aude” is a sequel and spin-off of “Merlí” (2015 – 2018), a coming- of -age drama comedy series that revolves around a secondary school teacher called Merlí Bergeron (Francesc Orella) who genuinely loves teaching and uses unorthodox knowledge, his charisma and Philosophy to make his students think out of the box.  He befriended Pol Rubio (Carlos Cuevas), a troublemaker and underestimated young man who comes from a work-class family, lost his mother, has a turbulent relationship with his father, and becomes his best student. The series features 3 praised seasons by the audience and the critics that motivated Lozano to develop a new saga for one of the major characters of Merlí: Pol Rubio.

Spoiler Alert: “Merlí: Sapere Aude” follows the happenings afterwards Merlí’s death and how it affects the life of his pupil Pol Rubio. Merlí stood for Pol and was the only one to believe in his talent. Since the loss of his mentor,  Pol’s been hanging out a lot with his friend Bruno (David Solans), who is Merlí’s son; during their mourning, the attraction between the two is palpable. Bruno encourages Pol to go to the university, given that they’ve had some sexual interactions in the past.

Pol decides to study Philosophy at the University of Barcelona following the footsteps of his idolised teacher, while the relationship between Bruno and him begins to strengthen. In this series, Pol has still a turbulent relationship with his father Alfonso (Boris Ruiz), a humble and uncultured man, who confronts himself with his sexual desires and needs to make effort to pay for his studies by doing shit jobs. At the University, he meets new friends such as Rai (Pablo Capuz), a quirky wealthy fella,  Minerva (Azul Fernández), an immigrant struggling to survive in Spain,  Oti (Claudia Vega), a voluptuous girl from the countryside and Biel (Pere Vallribera), a naive student; as well as new professors like María Bolaños, an honourable who at the beginning, their personality traits clashed, but that hides their mutual admiration. 

Merlí Sapere Aude’s plot explores its characters’ daily lives subjects such as social inequality, sex, sexualities, unrequited love, professional conflicts among professors and institutions, alcoholism, immigration, cultures and stereotypes, ageism, but especially Philosophy. The social critique is on top of it and encourages us to use our own reason, and invites us to reflect on our existence to change old concepts and paradigms, in unpretentious and cool ways,  linked with our postmodern society. The series’ title’s “Sapere aude” is the Latin phrase which means “Dare to know”; or even more loosely translated as “Dare to be wise”.

The story makes references to the major philosophical ideas such as Aristotle and Nietzsche. Each of the 8 episodes is inspired by one philosopher and it flows organically over the narrative structure most of the time, even I believe some scenes when they have philosophical discussion could have been developed better because they seem a bit out of the context.

Also, the series criticises the Spanish government which undervalues its Education formal system. Why is Messi’s labour force worth more than a teacher’s?… Does it sound familiar? It’s easy to connect with this problem, especially for me who is originally from Brazil and now how bad our education system is.

There’s another great asset: The series is driven by its characters, their conflicts, ideologies, and motivations. Most of the characters are well-tailored. They have their own stories, issues and journeys. There’s no Manichaeism, they have layers and profundity instead, which makes it very realistic, and believeble and made me connect with them.

The cast is lovely and portrayed their characters with honesty and naturalness. I highlight the performances of Carlos Cuevas who plays the handsome bisexual Pol and features a remarkable performance, as well as María Pujalte as María Bolaño who has outstanding acting.  She brings to life María Bolaño, a respectful and superb professor, with a pinch of egocentrism dealing with alcoholism and divorce.    Also, Pablo Capuz as Rai, Azul Fernández as Minerva and David Solans as Bruno Bergeron make a difference in the TV series.

The series is delightful entertainment, but it’s also an irresistible tour through the existentialism and all complexity of human nature. The message is clear: dare to know things! I’m looking forward to seeing season 2.

See the official trailer:

You must watch it! it’s available on Netflix in the UK and Ireland.

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