How to Screw It All Up (Cómo mandarlo todo a la mierda) captures the essence of teenage angst, of that intense time of desiring everything you can’t have. Of dreams and disappointments. Of wanting to live like an adult but without the attendant demands and duties. That stage of discovery and frustration that can be fantastic and yet chaotic – just like the end-of-year trip the six central characters decide to sneak off on in this HBO Max series premiering on Friday July 1.

When you’re 17 and in high school, you think the friends you make will last a lifetime and that you’ll never again experience relationships that intense. You’re so run by impulses and conflicting desires that you can end up doing some pretty crazy stuff. Like when your school’s official end-of-year trip is canceled so you and your friends decide to go ahead with it anyway, and without your parents knowing. What could go wrong?

And so it is that How to Screw It All Up embarks on six episodes of continuous escapism in a road trip fueled by that urgent desire to experience freedom. A plan involving no plan, just total spontaneity. Stretching out ahead, three long weeks with no fixed destination, of always being on the move, and having just one rule – don’t share anything on social media that could screw it all up.

The cast is led by faces that have already popped up in other series with strong teen components. Among them Malva Vela (The Candidate), Gabriel Guevara (Skam), Óscar Ortuño (30 Coins), Nadia Al Saidi (La caza. Monteperdido) and Sergi Méndez (Sky Rojo). Joining them is Naira Lleó (Hierro S2) as Alba, a girl who finds it hard to fit in and who hasn’t been at the high school for long. For her, signing on for this impromptu adventure is much more than just a teenage lark; it’s a way to set herself free, to leave behind a life she wants to flee from at all costs. What’s more, she’s the only one who knows how to jumpstart the beat-up van in which they make their getaway.

‘How to Screw It All Up’ (Cómo mandarlo todo a la mierda).

Creators Jaime Olías and Pablo Sanhermelando wanted to provide a “truthful, faithful and naturalistic” portrait of a group of teenagers. Both point out that the series delves into the sense of a lack of freedom, and the struggle for it, in youth: “A feeling that we all have (to a greater or lesser degree), and that we experience in each and every phase of life in one way or another.”

The chaos that takes place onscreen derives from a very deliberate storytelling. It reflects the creative freedom the platform wanted Jaime Olías to run with. In the words of Miguel Salvat, executive producer for HBO Max: “Everything has been meticulously planned out so as to make it look like it isn’t. Above all it’s a story about freedom, but not only the freedom that Alba and the rest of the characters yearn for and relish; it’s also the freedom that Jaime Olías has wisely used in order to tell this story, choosing the style, the music, the right format and all the elements that give this series a touch of reality and authenticity unique in TV drama series.”

Produced by Boomerang TV, How to Screw It All Up featured at the latest edition of the Lo Que Viene festival, held in Tudela. Its July 1 premiere marks the official kickoff of summer holidays series on HBO.

Daniel Forcada
Daniel Forcada is a journalist, writer and a avid devourer of all kinds of drama series and has worked for ‘El Confidencial’ and ‘Telemadrid’, among other media. As an author, Daniel has published ‘La Corte de Felipe VI’ and ‘Anson, una vida al descubierto’.