Diego San José (Irún, 1978) is one of the most prominent comedy creators in Spain at present. He began his career writing for comedy shows including “Vaya Semanita”, “El Intermedio” and “Qué vida más triste” to later make the leap to cinema, where he has written successful comedies such as “Friend Zone” (2009), which won an award at the Malaga Film Festival for Best Novel Screenplay, “Lovestorming” (2011), the box office success “Spanish Affair” (2014), originally titled “8 apellidos vascos” in Spanish and its sequel “Spanish Affair-2” or “8 apellidos catalanes” (2015), all of them co-written with Borja Cobeaga. He has also released “We have to talk” (2016), “Bomb Scared” (2017) and “Súperlopez” (2018), for which he was nominated for a Goya for Best Adapted Screenplay. His latest works on television include “Vota Juan” (2019) and the sequel “Vamos Juan” (2020). Since 2019 he has been part of the creative team of THE MEDIAPRO STUDIO and lectures in the Master in Screenwriting organized by THE MEDIAPRO STUDIO and the UCM.
If you’re reading this, then the age old trick of overexaggerating the headline has worked, or rather to exaggerate completely in this case, as I haven’t a clue what’s going to come our way in 2021. But that’s the least important fact about this text because I will use 2021 to avoid talking about 2021. More or less.
A few weeks ago, when they asked me to write something about the audiovisual outlook for the coming times, I accepted. At that time I had absolutely nothing to say about 2021, but I said yes, convinced that something would occur to me. Big mistake. I had too much faith in myself. It’s been a month and I still have nothing to say.
Or do I, because looking for some brilliant forecast for 2021 has allowed me to discover two things. One, that I’m not a genius. And two, the most important, that we spend too much time talking about series. We’ve just closed out a year that has been hailed by the media as exceptional for Spanish drama. Exceptionally good, I say, because they had all seemed exceptionally bad until now. So wonderful was 2020 that every week the best Spanish series in history premiered. There were even weeks where several Spanish series were released, all of them being the best of all time. Will 2021 be such a year? Well, I don’t know, and I think those of us who write shouldn’t care.
A screenwriter doesn’t have to try to write the best series in history but the best series in their history. When one is stuck at home without knowing what to do with their shot list, the media’s perception of the state of Spanish drama is about as useful as a handbrake on a canoe. By the time you premiere, the world will have moved on and your series will be exactly as good (or bad) as it was intended to be. Reflecting on serial trends for 2021 has helped me realize that a screenwriter can chose to entirely ignore these analyzes or, if they are braver souls than I, fight against them. Because the only certainty we can conclude emphatically about fashion is that if you follow it, then you’ll never go anywhere interesting. Because, regardless of where or with what you end up, the party is already half-over. For a screenwriter, audiovisual fads are an infallible GPS to reach that building they knocked down two months ago.
Rafael Azcona once said that Spanish film directors spend too much time looking at other people’s films and far too little looking around them. Something similar seems to be true of series, we began to spend too much time watching them all and we have almost no space left to find any stimulus beyond the plasma screen of out TV’s. We run the risk of writing as spectators and not as screenwriters. Series that come out in 2021 shouldn’t emerge from the successes of 2020, because even though we may have been surprised by last year’s series for their originality (some more than others) it’s nothing compared to what the reality of the year just ended was like. Upcoming series should harvest all this crazily-weirdo crap happening to us because it’s rarely true that what surrounds us offers us the best vantage point for finding the inspiration to spin a tale as yet untold by any other.