By Joyce Slaton,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Language, supernatural visuals in enjoyably bloody series.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Heroism usually takes the form of brute force, and heroes and villains are assumed to be opposites but use the same or similar methods to prevail. Themes circling around religion are also pervasive, with characters voicing thoughts like "If God exists he doesn't give a damn about us."
Positive Role Models
Women take on strong and central roles in this show, and aren't fetishized for their looks. They have agency and ability on par with the male characters. Father Ramiro is a conflicted priest whose sins are now coming back to haunt him; Elvis is a stereotypical macho adventurer type, but at least he's presented with a wink and not dead seriousness.
Violence & Scariness
Violence is bloody and gory with onscreen deaths and a lot of supernatural imagery: demons with glowing eyes, bloody wounds on people who shriek in pain, a dreadful sequence in which a dead rat with intestines hanging out is brought back to life with a demon potion and snarls in agony while pinned to a board. A young girl is in mortal danger, abducted by a demon and held in a dark, scary place. A mother is flung out a window and onto the hood of a car while her daughter screams "Mommy! Help!" piteously. An orderly at a psychiatric hospital pulls down his pants and intimates that he's going to rape a woman before she dispatches him, bloodily.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Female sex workers are part of the atmosphere at an underworld establishment; we see them leering at potential customers in brief outfits and kissing men in the background of scenes. Much is made of a presumably celibate priest having sired a daughter.
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Language includes "motherf--ker," "f--king," "s--t," "a--hole," "damn," "hell," "balls" (the body part).
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Many scenes take place at drinking establishments, with characters throwing back liquor; nobody acts drunk. Elvis advises a woman to give her husband beer with lime as part of his recovery process from a demon possession.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Diablero is a dark dramedy about demons who possess and harm humans and the demon-hunters who fight them. The series is originally in Spanish, but it's available with dubbed English and subtitles. Inventive but gory violence will be parents' chief concern, with lots of spooky supernatural imagery, onscreen deaths, the kidnapping of a young girl, an implied rape in a mental hospital that's thwarted by its would-be victim turning into a demon. A difficult-to-watch segment has a rat splayed on a dissection board with intestines coiled around him brought briefly back to life and then killed again. Sex workers are background visuals in a rough part of town, and a Catholic priest is dismayed to learn he's fathered a daughter. Many scenes take place in bars and with adults drinking, but no one acts drunk. Language is frequent: "motherf--ker," "f--king," "s--t," "a--hole," "damn," "hell," "balls" (the body part). Women have strong roles with agency.
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The suspense and the funny details
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What's the Story?
Mexico City used to be in balance: an angel for every one of the devils walking among the humans. But after the angels deserted the earth, there's only the DIABLERO left to keep the demons from taking over. Elvis (Horacio Garcia Rojas) is one of the few who can overpower and capture these demons, delivering their souls to the menacing El Indio (Humberto Busto) to pay a debt. But when the tormented Father Ramiro Ventura (Christopher Von Uckermann) learns his daughter Mariana (Cali DiCapo) has been abducted by devilish forces, it's up to Elvis to bring her back home, cancel out his debt to El Indio, and restore some order to the spiritual world of Mexico City.
Is It Any Good?
This Mexican fantasy series seems to be reaching for Stranger Things territory with its dark and otherworldly storyline, but it's too deliriously bonkers to be taken as seriously. Here are just a few things that exist in the same place and time in Diablero's world: vengeful demons who can possess any human at any time but whose essence can be captured in a soda bottle, a "demon appraiser" in a rough part of town that tests the quality of imprisoned devils by injecting the evil potion into dead animals, and an organized fight club in which participants allow themselves to be possessed for the duration of the battle, just for kicks. Whew! And we haven't even gotten to the part about the Upside-Down-like chasm underneath the church, where dark forces are holding a (Eleven-like) young girl for mysterious reasons.
It's goofy and kinda dumb, but it's fun anyway, particularly for viewers who will relish the slanted bits and pieces of Mexican culture that slips through the supernatural goings on. When two fellas meet to talk over a personal problem, they watch soccer and sip tequila; ranchera music, not hip hop, is the background at a tough-guy party scene; Elvis hangs out at a pulqueria (which serves an ancient Mexican booze known as pulque), not a bar. The characters are weird and interesting too, including plenty of intriguing women: two menacing female bruisers who operate as muscle for their gangster dad, the searingly cranky partner of the demon appraiser, the by-turns scary and sympathetic Nancy. This show may be a guilty pleasure, but it's a pleasure nonetheless.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Diablero's bloody injuries and frequent on-screen deaths. Why do some dramas show blood and guts? Is it entertaining for the viewer? For you? What's the impact of media violence on kids? Would the level of violence make you uncomfortable about watching with a young friend or relative? Your mom? Your grandmother?
How does this show's setting in Mexico City affect the characters and action? How would it be different if it were set in a small American town? A European city? A rural location? How does this show communicate this sense of place?
- Premiere date: December 21, 2018
- Cast: Cali DiCapo, Jason Her, Quetzalli Cortés
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- TV rating: TV-MA
- Last updated: February 18, 2023
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