A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Positive messages are not frequent, but there are points being made here about class, wealth, and power, as well as about religious and ethic identity, and sexuality. Parents won't always appreciate the way they are made, though.
Positive Role Models
Some characters are stereotypical rich-kid types; the lower-class characters are typically portrayed more sympathetically. Nadia Shanaa is a strong representation of a Muslim woman who thoughtfully considers whether to wear or hijab or not (and is threatened with expulsion for doing so at school), and works hard at school to succeed despite being the target of racism, contempt, and shady plots. All of her problems are are not connected to being Muslim -- she's also a realistic teen girl with a teen girl's typical problems.
Violence & Scariness
A murder anchors much of the plot, and we see a teen girl as a dead body, with the camera lingering on her face and pouty lips. Teen boys scuffle and punch each other at a party; sexual situations are iffy (a girl seduces a boy so her boyfriend can secretly watch; two teens conspire to entice a "virginal Muslim girl" into having sex).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sexual content is more intense than you'd see in an American show about teens: dating, flirting, talking about sex, kissing, two characters having sex in a shower with thrusting (the male partner is visible nude from the rear). Another character is nude in a non-sexual context as he walks down a hallway after his clothing is stolen from a locker; his backside is visible but genitals are covered. A teen uses an app to take pictures of his body for a gay hookup; a girl has sex with a boy so her boyfriend can secretly watch; a young woman is HIV-positive. A girl asks her boyfriend to have sex with a girl to ruin her reputation.
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Language is in Spanish, subtitled, and cursing includes "s--t," "f--king," "f--k," "hell," "ass," "a--hole," "dick." Teens flip each other the bird. Language may also have a gendered aspect that bilingual or sharp listeners will pick up on, like when one character jokingly calls another "hijo de puta" literally "son of a prostitute" but translated as "son of a bitch."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Many characters habitually smoke cigarettes. Teens buy hashish from a dealer, learn to roll it into a cigarette by watching an online video, and then smoke it. At a party thrown by a girl's parents, teens guzzle champagne and beer and get sloppy; one vomits on another character and then makes a chancy sexual decision.
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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.
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.
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