A call you want to answer: Las Chicas del Cable

Charlotte Seton

When my college applications asked me what my guilty pleasure was, I immediately responded “Las Chicas del Cable” (or “Cable Girls”), Netflix’s 2017 Spanish period drama that kept my eyes glued to the screen. The series is a treat for the eyes. The flattering clothing as well as the opulent decor and architecture make you long to relive the 1920s. The fast-paced drama, gorgeous sets and lavish costumes added to the impressive production of the series.

“Las Chicas del Cable” is set in Madrid, Spain in 1928. The series follows the lives of four young women who work as telephone operators for a modern telecommunications company. The girls seek their independence in different ways as they test their relationships with the men in their lives—fathers, husbands, brothers, bosses and lovers.

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The show opens with one of the heroines worming her way into a job as a telephone operator so that she can rob the company’s safe. By stealing the money, she hopes to escape the clutches of the local police chief, who threatens to imprison her for a murder she did not commit. However, her theft is foiled by an employee who turns out to be her long lost lover, for whom she still has feelings.

The plot moves rapidly and is filled with drama, romance and crime. At times, it was so riveting that I was afraid to blink because I’d miss the next piece of the action. The storyline is captivating and well-written, delving into feelings of love, friendship and familial ties. There are definitely soap opera-type moments that might feel overdramatized at times, but for me, the additional drama just enhanced the show’s appeal.

Each woman’s story is intertwined with the others’ in the typical style of Spanish telenovelas. Keeping track of each woman’s story can be challenging, but the script writers quickly and subtly pull the plot strings together to help the audience’s understanding.

The protagonists’ common desire for self-fulfillment transcends culture and time and is another engaging aspect of the series. In their quest for independence, however, the women sometimes get away with more than they should. For example, one woman hosts a cocktail party in her single-sex boarding house. She calls the matron running the house a tart when she catches her, but surprisingly does not get thrown out.

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The series stars Ana Fernandez, Nadia de Santiago, Blanca Suarez and Maggie Civantos, all of whom perform their roles very convincingly. Blanca Suarez is particularly sympathetic, and we cannot help but cheer on this unrepentant thief, and her budding relationship with the communications director’s son, played by Martiño Rivas. Yon Gonzalez, the actor who plays Francisco, one of the primary male characters, disappoints in the first few episodes but becomes more effective at conveying his character’s passion as the season progresses. The actors are supported by fine screenwriting, and the viewer is quickly drawn in by the suspense.

Perhaps the strangest aspect of the series is the music. Although set in the 1920s, the music is modern. The introductory clip in the first episode was certainly jarring. But I believe the producer wanted this series to appeal to a younger audience, and this music adds a contemporary sense of vigor and urgency that 1920s big band music could not. Once you get used to the music, it actually further enhances the energetic appeal of the storyline.

There is some violence, nudity and mature content in this series, so I would not recommend it for younger audiences.

The series was awarded Spain’s best online TV show at the 2017 Ondas Awards. The first season of 16 episodes premiered worldwide on Netflix in April 2017, and the second season just aired in Dec. 2017. A third season has been ordered for release in 2018, and I’ll be watching it with plenty of drinks and tapas!