On March 26th, Netflix premiered ‘Magic for Humans Spain con el Mago Pop’, the Spanish adaptation of Justin Willman’s format (also available on the platform). Produced by 100 Balas (The Mediapro Studio), this latest bid neither fits the definition of series, nor documentary… because, as anyone will tell you; magic is in category of its own.
Over six episodes, the Spanish conjurer manages to deal with a series of issues that have already been more than treated the audiovisual perspective, including hobbies, the weather, pace of life, love, lies and terror, but he does so in a way that’s so novel compared to anything we’ve ever seen before. He deals with these issues using magic tricks. Flipping what we thought we knew on its head and bringing a smile to our faces into the bargain.
The minute you catch sight of Antonio Díaz, everything else you’re doing takes a back seat, time appears to stand still and your mood changes, after all, he didn’t earn the title of the greatest European magician box-office draw in the world for nothing. Besides, it’s family entertainment for all races, creeds and walks of life… rendering berth to anyone open to being surprised (even leaving those already more than familiar with his tricks gobsmacked).
However, the unique format garners even greater enthusiasm when you discover that there’s much more to it than magic; he also breaks down stereotypes by constantly portraying women in roles traditionally associated with men and men in a capacity routinely reserved for women. The background talent also encompasses the entire spectrum of ‘common people’, just like his guests, who are not generally the type of folk you’d expect to see on TV, despite having stacks to contribute.
I’m at a complete loss when it comes to figuring out how he does it, but what ‘Magic for Humans Spain con el Mago Pop’ achieves is somewhat of a rarity for a platform, notably for the following two reasons:
Something that only occurs in this “magical” format
What the stories narrated by movies, series and documentaries have in common is that they begin with an introduction, then we move into the heart of the matter, only to arrive at an ending we’re all craving for, to discover how it all comes out in the wash. More than a few of us jot down the episode where we left off, or indeed the minute we paused that movie we’re watching, so we can pick up the story later on.
However, ‘Magic for Humans’ with El Mago Pop provokes a disruption to the conventional narrative, in as much as after every revelation, you’ll find yourself rewinding 10 seconds, then another 10 seconds, desperately trying to figure the trick out. We already know the outcome, but what really matters is the starting point, that instant at which he distracts us, any minor detail that might help to reveal what just happened. Because what we’re seeing constantly goes far beyond our scope of reasoning.
The 25 minutes each episode lasts leaves you craving more and before you know it, you’ve already watched three more episodes than you’d originally planned. He was really working his magic all along on time itself.
The ever-growing legend of El Mago Pop
Antonio Díaz, the real-life name of El Mago Pop, has built his own legend, brick by brick. From performing street magic, he’s gone on to buy up the Teatre Victòria in the heart of Barcelona, performing to sell-out crowds every night. He has become the biggest box-office draw among magicians throughout Europe, dumbfounding celebrity athletes and actors, sharing their encounters with the conjurer on social media.
And he’s managed to do all this by creating an intimate show, in which he hasn’t needed to make the Statue of Liberty disappear to position himself among the crème de la crème in the world of magic. His particular brand of entertainment looks you directly in the eye, and everybody gets his indispensable sense of humor distracting your attention. He’s even sassy enough to reveal how he did a trick, knowing that he’s about to wow us with something even more inconceivable. The notable difference with Díaz is his playful spirit. He’s constantly playing. But above all, he plays at being one of us, to later reveal that he’s not. You see, there’s much more to El Mago Pop than merely the magic itself since what he does is to construct a complete lifestyle around him.