TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Veneno TV Poster Image
Excellent Spanish biopic has LGBTQ+ themes, nudity, cursing.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

It’s about Cristina Ortiz’s challenging life as a trans person, but it also offers positive messages about self-acceptance, finding community, and friendship. Prejudices against, and stereotypes about the LGBTQ+ community in Spain over the last 60 years, are highlighted in various ways. 

Positive Role Models

Cristina, as an older trans woman, teaches Valeria a lot, but she isn’t always the best role model. Paca is Cristina’s best friend, and very loyal to her. 


Catty exchanges and arguing is frequent. A young Cristina is shown being bullied (bloody injuries visible). Occasionally, guns are drawn and threats are made. The death of a friend and others are mentioned. There are some tough prison scenes, too. 


Sex work is a major theme. There's strong sexual innuendo, including grabbing male genitalia, nudity (bare breasts, back sides), and crude references like "t--ts," "p---y," and "d--ks."


The English dubbed version includes strong words like "bitch" and curses like "f--k" and "s--t." The un-dubbed version has endless cursing in Spanish that also appears in the subtitles in English. Homophobic slurs are also frequently used, some of which are considered commonplace in Spain. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots of cigarette smoking. There's some drinking, and pot smoking is sometimes visible. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Veneno is a Spanish miniseries about the life of Spanish transgender 1990s icon Cristina "La Veneno" Ortiz. It’s well-written and well-performed, but there’s plenty of mature content, including lots of crude innuendo, suggested sexual acts, nudity (bare breasts and thong-clad bottoms), cursing (including "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," etc.) and homophobic slurs. There’s some arguing and threats, and occasionally guns are drawn. Cigarette smoking is constant, and drinking and pot smoking is sometimes shown. All this being said, the series is also heartfelt and honest, and contains strong messages about self-acceptance, community, and friendship, as well as the issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community in Spain over the last 60 years. 

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What's the story?

Based on the book by Spanish journalist and activist Valeria Vegas, VENENO is a Spanish limited series about the life of 1990s transgender pop culture icon Cristina "La Veneno" Ortiz Rodriguez. The biopic stars Lola Rodriguez as Vegas, who, after meeting a middle-aged Cristina Ortiz (portrayed at different stages of her life by Jedet, Daniela Santiago, and Isabel Torres), decides to write a book about the vedette performer's life. What the young writer uncovers is a harrowing and uplifting life story about how Ortiz evolved from a bullied and rejected teenager in a homophobic Andalusian fishing town, to a high-priced sex worker. It details how Ortiz was discovered by tabloid journalist Faela Sainz (Lola Dueñas), which led to her TV debut on a popular adult late night talk show, and her subsequent rise to fame. Throughout it all, Valeria is coming to terms with who she is and her acceptance in the world around her.

Is it any good?

The dramatic coming-of-age series takes an intimate look into the tumultuous life of Cristina Ortiz with poignancy and humor. Using flashbacks to structure the narrative, it highlights some of the key moments that changed the trajectory of her life. But while Ortiz is painted as a likable, relatable, and talented person, the story does not ignore her many flaws, and some of the life-altering bad choices she made. The creators’ choice to cast as many transgender actors as possible in key roles (like Paca La Piraña, who plays herself as Cristina's roommate and best friend) adds to this authentic interpretation of her unique lived experience. 

Like any dramatic biopic, there’s a fair share of fictionalized moments. But the overall miniseries is well-produced and extremely well-performed. Through the eyes of both the young Valeria -- who is embarking on her own personal journey -- and the memories of the older Cristina, it succeeds at revealing how life for the LGBTQ+ community in Spain has evolved (and not evolved) since the 1960s. It also highlights the powerful role the media plays in creating and destroying a celebrity, especially when it's used to comment on "other" people who are different under the guise of entertainment. Overall, Veneno is an outstanding story about a woman who opted to live openly and unapologetically as who she was, while addressing the joys and tragedies she experienced as a result. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the fame La Veneno enjoyed in the 1990s in Spain. Why was she so popular during that time? Was her popularity unique, given the sentiment about the LGBTQ+ community in Spain up until that time?

  • How have TV portrayals of the LGBTQ+ community changed in the United States over the years? How do they compare to TV representations of the community in other countries? What does Veneno tell us about the way the LGBTQ+ community is understood and valued in Spain?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love LGBTQ+ stories

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