On Wednesday, March 30,  Ser o no ser (To Be or not to Be) (6×25’), produced by RTVE and Big Bang Media (THE MEDIAPRO STUDIO), premieres on Playz and the gamble has truly paid off as the show immerses audiences in one of the most honest adolescent worlds we’ve seen from TV drama in recent years.

The action takes place in a high-school drama studies class where the teacher (Emma Vilarasau) will do everything in her power to get her students to hate, like or love her, managing the latter even though it’s against all odds and despite the dicey staging. But if this series knows how to do anything it’s to gamble and win, pitching real-life problems into this drama that comes out smelling of roses.

Created and written by Coral Cruz and directed by Marta Pahissa, without a doubt, feminine sensitivity goes a long way in helping to deal with issues as volatile as is life at the age of the characters, and whose performances put the final brush strokes to the show: innocent, while so well-crafted, fresh but dark, amateur but professional… the list of paradoxes, like the ones each character has to face or the very title itself would suggest, could go on ad infinitum.

Sensitive issues at a delicate age

Joel (Ander Puig) is a 16-year-old trans boy, recently enrolled in a drama studies course at a new high-school, affording him the opportunity to clean the slate and start afresh in a place where nobody knows him and where he’s free to present himself, following his heart and true nature. However, his past is ever-present.

Joel soon discovers that he’s not the only one dealing with issues as his classmates begins confessing their greatest fears, laying their cards on the table and dealing with sensitive topics, all the more delicate a feat given their juncture in life.

The series deals with transsexuality, free love, ambition, uncertain future, stage fright, cancer, homosexuality, jealousy and many other themes our adolescent characters soon begin voicing their opinions on.

Ander Puig in ‘Ser o no ser’. Playz.

The constant game between reality and fiction

Ser o no ser was by no means a title chosen at random, as the four immortal words with which Hamlet initiates a soliloquy that takes us into the depths of human contradiction, of reflections on our existence, of the contradictions of life.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet continues: “…that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them” the perfect summary of the moment in life our characters experience, as life itself perpetually places them in juxtaposition of reality and fiction.

Their drama studies class might allow them to don the mask and perform a role, or to play themselves. They can choose whether to continue acting even after the bell goes or face up to their harsh realities, like putting on a good face at home, even when things aren’t going so great outside, or to collapse and just feel the drama.

Then, just when we think we’ve got our heads around the role each character is set to play, the story takes a radical twist proving all is not as it seems, that’s there is still more drama, or more reality behind the facade. Because even though this is a teen drama, their brand of adolescence still has plenty of room for mystery, romanticism and even comedy. 

‘Ser o no ser’. Playz.

A beacon among other dramas in the same universe

Not many shows since Compañeros (1998) and Física o química (2008) have so adeptly reflected their adolescent stars in such a naturalistic light, taking an open-minded and unprejudiced approach to address such current issues.

Streaming platforms offer dramas like Élite, with their anything but run-of-the-mill high schools and characters that are practically unrecognizable to audiences of a similar age, Other shows from abroad like Gossip Girl, Rebelde and Riverdale, portray a reality that many teens here find hard to connect with.

So, if its superficiality you’re after, then look no further than Instagram, Facebook and the host of elitist dramas on offer. It comes as a breath of fresh air then to walk through the doors of a high school willing to go beyond the outer shell, capable of transforming,  making visible and naturalizing the range of identities of young people today, and that’s exactly what you get with Ser o no ser.

Paula Hergar
Paula Hergar is a 360 journalist as Paquita Salas would say, writes about TV in Vertele and presents, writes, and directs Zapping on LOS40. In addition to collaborating in cultural programs in La 2 and being the author of the book ‘Around the world in 80 series’.