MERLÍ. SAPERE AUDE is terrific!
Updated: Mar 7, 2022
You might not think that a series about college philosophy students would be interesting. But this group of sexually charged and intellectually curious friends makes for fascinating viewing in this NetFlix sensation from Spain. The students are grieving and unsettled due to the death of the beloved maverick teacher Merli. They turn to various professors who challenge them to find the meaning of life, and the classes provide interesting debates that counterbalance the youthful shenanigans. Our lead is Pol (Carlos Cuevas), the bisexual leader of the class. Pol is working-class and parks cars at night to support his widowed father. Cuevas is charming, intelligent, and sexy and not afraid to connect with suitors of all kinds. The production team lights him beautifully, as he seems always to be seated a gorgeous shaft of light coming thru the beautiful architecture of the university. Dressed simply in white tee shirts and jeans, he gives a lovely, honest performance.
Pol is loved by Merli’s son, Bruno (David Solans), as they have shared a great deal in the past. Now Pols’ affection has turned to Rai (Pablo Capuz), who uses his family’s assumed wealth as an emotional shield. It is intriguing to see this trio of men taunt and tease in a prime-time show, and the creative team does not hold back in terms of nudity or sex. The season begins with Cuevas nude in the shower, setting a lovely tone of revelation and concealment. The women in the series are just as intriguing. María Pujalte plays María Bolaño, a lonely tenured teacher struggling mightily to love her daughter and keep her demons at bay. Other notable characters in the large ensemble are Claudia Vega, who plays Oti, a student desperate for connection, and Eva Martín, who plays a new teacher who had once been a favored student of Bolaño, and now is a challenger for her position. MERLI explores some of the same things as the American series EUPHORIA as students explore sex and booze. But here, you also get teachers who are wise - or foolish - to shape the young lives that are in the balance. The title translates as Dare to Learn. And as Bolaño toasts, "To the best teachers!" Indeed.