A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Cable Girls is a Spanish-language drama from Netflix, taking place in late-1920s Madrid. This being a period piece, characters often have a boozy cocktail or cigarette-holder in hand -- there's even a plot detail that centers on a character losing an engraved cigarette case. Romantic relationships are explored, and there is some nudity and simulated sex, including a threesome. There's some violence -- poisoning, multiple shootings, self-harm, and domestic abuse -- but it's not overly graphic, and the show doesn't linger on it.
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What's the story?
CABLE GIRLS is a Spanish-language melodrama set in 1928, which centers on the lives of four young women working as telephone operators at Madrid's largest telecommunications company. They've each come to their position for a different reason: to defy the expectations of a parent or a husband, to fulfill personal ambitions and make their small town proud, or to pull off a heist and escape their past. There will be plenty of obstacles along the way for these friends, not the least of which is just existing in a patriarchal society that is invested in keeping women "in their place." The cast is headed by Blanca Suárez as Alba Romero, aka "Lidia Aguilar Dávila," who is probably best known for her role in acclaimed director Pedro Almodóvar's film The Skin I Live In.
Is it any good?
Though this show is a well-done period piece, it isn't slavishly focused on getting every aesthetic detail right; of particular note is the use of modern music, which helps draw the viewer in and make the show more relatable. That being said, the costumes and styling are really fun to behold, and help strengthen our sense of each character's personality: Magda in her mousy dresses and hats, Carlota with her sexy headbands and vampy lipstick. The cast is full of vibrant, magnetic actresses who have a real chemistry, which keeps you rooting for their characters from one episode to the next.
Cable Girls does a decent job showing the way women were treated in suffragette times, with female characters being forced into jobs, situations, and even marriages they don't want simply because the law did not grant them the autonomy to choose otherwise. This reality means there are characters who hit their wives, women who can't take money out of a joint bank account without the permission of their spouse, and some who feel their only route to independence is through criminal means. This sociopolitical edge helps differentiate the show from other melodramas, and helps to ground the "soapier" elements, though of course the murder plots and will-they-won't-they love affairs are part of what will keep viewers addicted, too. It's advisable to watch the show with the original Spanish dialogue and English subtitles (the acting almost always comes across better in the cast's native tongue), though Netflix does offer a dubbed version if you prefer.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way times have changed for working women since 1928, especially with the advent of new technologies. What are some of the situations the Cable Girls characters found themselves in that would never happen today? In what ways have things stayed the same?
There are male and female characters who mistreat women on Cable Girls. Why do you think this might be? Is it possible for a woman to be sexist? How do you think the show wants us to feel about how these characters are treated?
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