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 Elite is a Spanish-language drama about a murder that occurs after three scholarship students begin attending a upscale school. Iffy content is, in general, more intense than you'd find on an American teen-soap counterpart: characters have sex (with nude backsides exposed) in a variety of unusual and risky ways, including a girl who has sex with a boy so her boyfriend can secretly watch, a couple who enjoys having sex in public places, and a teen who uses a gay hookup app. Another character tries to have sex with a girl so that he and his girlfriend can ruin her reputation. Teens also buy and smoke hashish, smoke cigarettes, and drink to the point of vomiting, even with parents at the party. Language includes "f--k," "f--king," and "s--t," as well as bigoted language such as referring to a Muslim woman's hijab as a "turban" and calling her "Palestine." A murder takes place in the show's running time; we see the girl's dead, bloody body. A young Muslim woman is a strong character, and the show, while very edgy, has interesting things to say about race, class, ethnicity, religion, and sexuality.
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What's the story?
Las Encinas is where the ELITE of Spain send their kids. But this year, Nadia (Mina El Hammani), Samuel (Itzan Escamilla), and Christian (Miguel Herrán) have been invited to the party, recipients of a special scholarship funded by the builders who put up the inner-city school that collapsed right on top of its students. It's tough to be the new kid at a school where the students are rich, connected, and mean -- particularly when someone winds up murdered.
Is it any good?
Racy and irresistible, this Spanish import dazzles and intrigues -- but think twice before showing it to teens, though it's supposed to be about high schoolers. The students at Las Encinas indulge freely in illicit sex, drugs and alcohol, Cruel Intentions-style sexual mind games, and, of course, murder. But it's not all seamy appeal. The setup also drags in a layer of rich vs. poor class struggle which, interestingly, has different angles than the same conflict in America. In the show's first episode, a rich boy explains to a scholarship student that his 16-year-old sister's elaborate coming-out party would have once been about finding a husband quickly. But now it's more about "networking, although the husband thing is not ruled out."
Largely through the character of Nadia, Elite also has compelling things to say about race and ethnicity. Consistently greeted with contempt for her "turban" and "attitude," Nadia's set up for a downfall by a classmate clearly threatened by her smarts and bravery, and given a complicated home and inner life that makes her actions hard to predict. Sexuality is treated in a similarly layered way, with a gay student looking for hookups online, an HIV-positive teen, and a couple who gets kicks from voyeurism all in the mix. It adds up to a show that's glossy, sometimes shocking, compulsively watchable, and only for the most mature teens.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether it's OK to show teen sex, drinking, and drug use on television. Do shows like this present a realistic view of teen life, or is anything exaggerated for entertainment? What would the real-life consequences of the characters' behavior be?
Aside from the language, what sets this Spanish series apart from their American counterparts? Why do you think some content (swearing, nudity, smoking) is more accepted in other countries?
This series touches on timely issues, including bullying, tolerance, sexual identity, sexual activity, and bigotry. Depending on the episode's content, talk to your kids about these and other topics, drawing comparisons between the characters' actions and your own family rules. Did the show encourage you to see a situation differently than you have in the past? How does peer pressure play a role in your decisions about what you will and will not do?
For kids who love teen drama
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